A LOCAL organization in Madang province, known as Asples Madang, is fighting against one of the region's biggest industrial loggers, Rimbunan Hijau (RH) chaired by billionaire Tiong Hiew King.
Aspeles Madang has accused Malaysian company, RH, of acquiring land illegally and of using brute force and bribery in its dealing with locals reports mongabay.com.
A lawsuit by a local landowner claiming that the Forest Management Area was illegally granted to RH has put the company's logging on hold for two months along the Ramu River in Madang Province. However according to Ecological Internet, which has started a campaign to expel RH from the area, the lawsuit is "only a temporarily reprieve".
Ecological Internet working with Asples Madang hopes to use the reprieve in order to bring attention to RH's alleged abuses which it calls "sociopathic", as well as highlight the possibilities of sustainable logging and alternatives to logging altogether in the region.
According to Ecological Internet RH has bribed local landowners, government officials, and police. The organization also reports on an incident where two teenage boys were shot by police allegedly paid off by RH after the boys broke into an RH tool shed.
This isn't the first time that RH has faced allegations of corruption and environmental degradation. A report by Greenpeace of RH's operations in PNG found that the company conducted large-scale illegal logging and had violated numerous human rights.
JK Balasubramaniam, RH company secretary, called Greenpeace's allegations "baseless, frivolous, vexatious" saying that Greenpeace was committing "economic terrorism".
However, a recent report by the Department of Labor and Employment also found evidence of bribery, corruption, and slave-like treatment of employees by RH.
The Ramu River Valley in Madang province is home to 2.47 million acres of lowland rainforest and swamp forest.
Rimbunan Hijau (RH) did not respond to request for comment, said mongabay.com.