By Save Rivers
The board members of the civil society organisation Save Rivers were investigated by police based on a report made by the CEO of the Samling group of companies.
The investigation was open under Section 504 of the Penal Code for intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of peace and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act.
In his police report, Samling’s CEO, Lawrence Chua Kee Long, accused Save Rivers of spamming him on his official email address with 5,700 emails. The emails were petitioning him to withdraw Samling’s legal suit against Save Rivers and its board of directors, which was filed by the company against the grassroots organisation in 2021.
The second item included in the police report was the presence of a crowd at the premise of the Miri High Court building on 15 May 2023, the day the legal suit was supposed to have been heard but was postponed for the fourth time.
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For giving their statement to the police on 11 August, the four members of Save Rivers board of directors – Peter Kallang, Thomas Jalong, Mark Bujang and Caroline Nyurang – were accompanied by their lawyer, Simon Siah. Each one had the statement given separately and the session for Peter Kallang, took almost two hours. Arriving at 10am, the group left at 1.30pm, after the proceeding was completed.
There were a number of supporters who also arrived at the police station to give their moral support for the civil society group. However, they were stopped at the gate by the police and not allowed to enter the station’s premises.
When asked by the affected community members, Caroline Nyurang said: “It’s disheartening to be wrongfully implicated for something where we had no involvement. It is a waste of our time and the police resources.”
However, all four of the directors were pleased with the way the investigation was being carried out. In commenting, Mark Bujang said: “The police were courteous towards us and we were equally cooperative in giving our statements.”
The police report by Samling’s CEO against Save Rivers is the latest development after the company sued the NGO in 2021 for defamation. The lawsuit, initiated by Samling is regarding a number of subjects featured on Save Rivers’ website, which the company claimed as offensive and false.
On the other hand, the NGO claimed the articles referred to are based on the company’s actual operation practices at the Gerenai forest management unit, as verified by members of the Ulu Baram communities affected. The Gerenai forest management unit is certified as sustainable by the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS).
The court case initiated by Samling against Save Rivers is now scheduled for 18-20 September. – Save Rivers