This is the tenth chapter of 'Conflict or Consent? The oil palm sector at a crossroads'.
This study examines an oil palm plantation being developed in the very centre of Sabah by the Kuala Lumpur-based Malaysian company Genting, which has interests in real estate development, casinos, tourism as well as palm oil. Its subsidiary Tanjung Bahagia Sdn Bhd has opened up some 8,000 ha of lands with an associated palm oil mill on lands claimed by the Sungai and Dusun peoples of Tongod District in the headwaters of the Kinabatangan river. After unsuccessful attempts at dialogue with the company and appeals to the government, in 2002, the communities took their case to court. During the past 10 years, the case has proceeded laboriously through the hierarchy of high courts, appeals courts and the Federal Court but owing to sustained objections by the defendants the communities’ pleadings have yet to be heard. The case exemplifies the tensions between the RSPO’s voluntary standard, which requires respect for customary rights and the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent, and the State’s laws and land allocation procedures, which deny these same rights.