Borneo human rights lawyer quizzed by police

August 4, 2010

Penan armed with blowpipes block road as logging trucks approach. © Survival 2009

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Prominent Indigenous rights lawyer Harrison Ngau Laing was quizzed by Malaysian Immigration and Special Branch police officers on Monday as he tried to board a plane to Kuala Lumpur.

Officials at Kuching airport in Sarawak, in the Malaysian part of Borneo, questioned Harrison about his destination and the purpose of his trip.

In 1987, Harrison was put under house arrest for almost two years and spent 60 days in jail under the Internal Security Act following his support for blockades of logging roads by the Penan and other Indigenous people of Sarawak.

Harrison’s passport was impounded by the state immigration authorities. It was returned in 2003, but his movement inside and outside the country is constantly monitored by Special Branch.

Mark Bujang, executive director of the Borneo Resources Institute (BRIMAS), said, ‘The state government is reverting to its old tactics of intimidating and restricting activists from travelling abroad.’