Background briefing

Samling - Logging firm, Malaysia

Samling is a Malaysian logging company which is destroying forests belonging to the Penan tribe in Sarawak, in the Malaysian part of Borneo.

Samling has been operating on Penan land for many years, without the tribe’s consent. The Penan have repeatedly mounted blockades to try to keep the company out. Many Penan have been arrested and imprisoned for their opposition to the company’s activities.

The Penan are now fighting to stop Samling logging their last remaining areas of intact forest.

Land rights

Several Penan villages have filed land rights claims in the Malaysian courts for areas over which Samling holds logging concessions. One of these cases has been pending in the courts since 1998.

The company claims on its website that it ‘operate[s] within the confines of the law which the government prescribes,’ and that in the legal disputes in which it is involved, ‘the real issue concerns the government and the local communities’.

However, Samling executive James Ho said in an interview on Swiss television in 2007, ‘The Penan have no rights to the forest.’

Samling is trying to log all the trees in our forest. When they enter the area we will lose everything.Penan man, Long Kerong

A report released in September 2009 by the Malaysian Ministry for Women, Family and Community Development verified allegations that Penan women and girls had been raped by logging company workers.

Samling workers were among those whom the Penan had accused of abuse.

The Penan suspect that community leader Kelesau Naan, who disappeared in October 2007 and was later found dead, may have been killed due to his opposition to Samling’s logging activities.

The company also has operations in Peninsular Malaysia, China, New Zealand, Australia and Guyana.