Wed, 31 Aug 1994

Siswono confirms rioting by Dayaks in W. Kalimantan

JAKARTA (JP): Minister of Transmigration Siswono Yudohusodo confirmed yesterday that West Kalimantan's Dayak tribe was recently involved in a clash with a timber company over an escalating land dispute.

Siswono was quick to lay the blame for the Aug. 11 rioting on the timber company for failing to take into account the sentiments of the Dayak people.

He said the Dayak tribe raided a number of the company's base camps, burning cars and damaging construction equipment.

"We regret that the incident happened," he told The Jakarta Post. "What disappoints us most is the deplorable attitude of the company's management, ignoring the people's protest."

"Our society is known as being very tolerant. We can solve all problems through dialog," he added.


The Dayak people from nine villages in Sandai, Ketapang, raided the timber estate belonging to PT Lingga Tejawana after several attempts to meet with the management failed. The timber project is linked to the government's transmigration program.

The local Dayak people said the company has taken part of their land and insisted that they vacate it.

There is no spatial zoning for the area and overlapping claims have been common in the area. This has fueled resentment among the Dayak people toward the timber companies.

The Institute of Dayakology for Research and Development, a local non-governmental organization based in Pontianak, has been monitoring the dispute closely and said that there are indications that the company was planning to develop the land for other purposes, including a golf course.

The institute, in a statement received here yesterday, also said that the company has cleared thousands of hectares of rubber and durian plants, which are the main source of income for many local people.

Siswono suggested that one possible way out of the impasse is for the company to involve the local people in the development of the transmigration linked timber estate project. (rms)