Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Native kids being classified as 'Melayu'

UPDATED

Read also:

The Dayak races are facing extinction on paper at Antubeduru.blogspot.

If this is not a genuine mistake, can we assume this is the beginning of “Ethnic Cleansing” of the Dayak Community? at Change We Must.

“According to William, it was found that it was neither the fault of the teachers nor the schools concerned but it was a directive from the Education Exam Division of the Education Ministry” at The Malaysian Mirror.

Dayak schoolchildren turned into 'Malays' at Malaysiakini. (See below)

Keruah Usit, Dec 1, 10. Sarawakian parents from the Lun Bawang, Kelabit and Iban communities are infuriated that their children's ethnic origin has been recorded as 'Malay' in official Education Department documents.

“Our religion is Christian. We are very upset…the school changed the status of our children to keturunan Melayu (of Malay origin) which is completely wrong and unacceptable,” the parents complained in a letter to William Ghani Bina, the president of the Sarawak Teachers' Union. They demanded that this practice be investigated and stopped immediately.

The alarming discovery was made in the students' mid-year and year-end report cards. The parents said the reason given by the Temenggong Datuk Murip School was that the change was part of “standard administrative procedure”.

Baru Bian, a Lun Bawang lawyer and head of Sarawak PKR, told the press: “We have been approached by concerned native parents about the sudden change in status of their children in school report cards. The status I am referring to is their keturunan.

“According to these parents who made the complaint, their children, who are natives of Sarawak by birth, are now classified as keturunan Melayu instead of lain-lain (others) as previously practised.”

Baru Bian pointed out the parents are natives under Article 161A of the constitution, and cannot possibly be Malay as they are not Muslim, do not habitually speak Malay and do not conform to Malay customs, as required by Article 160.

He said one parent had told him that the status recorded as 'Malay' cannot be changed back “because it was already within the system and the education officer was not able to make the changes”.

Baru Bian echoed the concerns of the six parents, explaining that some bureaucrats might accept the new status as evidence of 'back-door' conversions to Islam.

“It has great implications in the future. If such status is not clarified and maintained, it can (imply) that a native person, once he or she is classified as a Malay in official school documents, is a Muslim by virtue of the definition of Article 160.”

He urged the Education Ministry to rectify this error.

“Why are native children now classified as Melayu or Malay in schools? We are afraid this may be the tip of the iceberg and we would like to alert other native parents to check the status of their children before the matter becomes irreversible.”

The ministry was unable to provide any immediate comment.


Cultural dislocation


Feelings have been running high in Sarawak's blogosphere over the 10 strokes of the cane inflicted on 10-year-old Basil Beginda by an assistant principal in St Thomas's School in Kuching, for taking rice fried with pork sausages to school early last month.

The Education Ministry initially denied the teacher had caned the boy for taking pork to school. The authorities then argued that the boy's father, Beginda Minda, was Muslim, and therefore by extension, the boy was too.

But the state religious department could find no record of Beginda having converted to Islam. The teacher later apologised to the student and his mother.

The government's infringement of religious freedom has touched a raw nerve in Sarawak's traditionally tolerant and pluralistic society.

The BN ban on the use of the Arabic word for 'God' by non-Muslims has not yet been resolved, and bibles containing this word have been seized. Sarawakian Christians are angry over the new rules, since they have used the word for over a century in their prayer books.

Sarawakians are also concerned over the erosion of local languages by the nearly exclusive use of Malay in boarding schools - the only schools accessible to many poor rural Dayak students.

For example, Penan children in the hamlet of Pa'Tik have to walk two days to get to school in the Bario highlands, and rarely manage to visit their families at home. The teenagers are not encouraged to speak languages other than Malay to one another in school.

Even when the boarders are at home in Pa'Tik for term break, they argue and swear at one another in Malay, and listen to Malay rock music at high volume. Cultural dislocation is inevitable.

Many Sarawakians, including Baru Bian, speak of federal government policies perceived as neo-colonial. These include the erosion of religious freedom, unequal access to bumiputera or native privileges, and the marginalisation of local languages and cultures.

Most of all, they are angry at the impoverishment of ordinary Sarawakians. Sarawak receives only 5 percent of royalties on petroleum from its waters, and remains one of the poorest states in the federation.

“We are living under another form of colonialism, whereby the colonial power is in (Peninsular) Malaysia,” Baru Bian said in an interview with indigenous rights advocate, the Bruno Manser Fund, in January.

The eminent land rights lawyer has criticised state chief minister Abdul Taib Mahmud's administration for being “under the dictate of Kuala Lumpur” and for having “shortchanged the ordinary people”.

KERUAH USIT is a human rights activist - 'anak Sarawak, bangsa Malaysia'. This weekly column is an effort to provide a voice for marginalised Malaysians. Keruah Usit can be contacted at keruah_usit@yahoo.com
___________________


By Joseph Tawie

KUCHING: Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian has received complaints from native parents about their children being classified as Malays in their school report cards.

According to him, the children's “keturunan” (origin) were stated as “Melayu” instead of “Lain-Lain” (others) as practiced in the past.

“We were informed by one parent that the status cannot be changed (back) because it was already within the system and the education officer was not able to make the changes,” he said.

Sarawak PKR was also furnished with a copy of a letter inked by six concerned parents which was sent to the state teachers' union president seeking a clarification on the matter.

“We echo the concerns of these parents because it has great implications in the future,” said Baru.

“If the status is not clarified and maintained, it can be implied that a native person, once he or she is classified as a Malay in official school documents, is a Muslim by virtue of the definition of Article 160 (of the Federal Constitution),” he added.

Article 160 states that “a Malay means a person who professes the religion of Islam, habitually speaks the Malay language, conforms to Malay custom...”

Whereas, Article 161 on natives states that “in relation to Sarawak, a person who is a citizen and either belongs to one of the races specified in Clause (7) as indigenous to the state or is of mixed blood deriving exclusively from those races; and...”

“The races to be treated for the purposes of the definition of 'native' as indigenous to Sarawak are the Bukitans, Bisayahs, Dusuns, Sea Dayaks, Land Dayaks, Kadayans, Kalabit, Kayans, Kenyahs (Including Sabups and Sipengs), Kajangs (including Sekapans, Kejamans, Lahanans, Punans, Tanjongs and Kanowits), Lugats, Lisums, Malays, Melanos, Muruts, Penans, Sians, Tagals, Tabuns and Ukits.”

Meanwhile, Baru demanded that the Education Ministry launch an immediate investigation into the matter and provide an explanation.

“We are afraid that this may just be the tip of the iceberg and we would like to alert other native parents to check the status of their children before the matter becomes irreversible,” he said.


Union to raise it with ministry

When contacted, the president of Sarawak teachers' union, William Ghani Bina said he had taken up the issue to the state deputy director of education.

“And I am going to Kuala Lumpur and on Thursday, I will discuss it with the Director-General of Education,” he said.

“For you and I this is very bad. How can a Malay go to church? How can a Malay celebrate Christmas? How can a Malay celebrate Gawai?” he asked.

He added that these children and their families ate pork as well.

“How can they be of keturunan Melayu?”

He also noted that while the documents of the children indicated that they were 'Melayu', their birth certificates clearly showed that their parents were 'Christians' (see photos).

The children go to the Temenggong Datuk Muip school in Miri.


Taken from Free Malaysia Today.

Read also:

Race change to Malay in Sarawak school spooks parents at The Malaysian Insider.

Ibu bapa pribumi Sarawak khuatir status keturunan ditukar Melayu at the Malaysian Insider.

_________________________________________________________

PRESS STATEMENT
Issued by: Baru Bian, PKR State Liaison Chief, Sarawak
Date: Tuesday 30th November 2010
Place: Keadilan Stampin Office
Time: 3.30pm

We have been approached by concerned native parents about the sudden change in status of their children in school report cards.

The status I am referring to is their KETURUNAN. According to these parents who made the complaint, their children, who are natives of Sarawak by birth, are now classified as KETURUNAN MELAYU instead of LAIN LAIN as previously practised.

If we look at the Constitution of Malaysia, the MALAY race or MELAYU is clearly defined as follows:

Article number: 160

160. (2) In this Constitution, unless the context otherwise requires, the following expressions have the meanings hereby respectively assigned to them, that is to say -

"Malay" means a person who professes the religion of Islam, habitually speaks the Malay language, conforms to Malay custom and -

(a) was before Merdeka Day born in the Federation or in Singapore or born of parents one of whom was born in the Federation or in Singapore, or is on that day domiciled in the Federation or in Singapore; or (b) is the issue of such a person.

The Constitution also clearly defines what constitutes a native, as follows:

Article number: 161a

161A. (6) In this Article "native" means-

(a) in relation to Sarawak, a person who is a citizen and either belongs to one of the races specified in Clause (7) as indigenous to the State or is of mixed blood deriving exclusively from those races; and

(b) in relation to Sabah, a person who is a citizen, is the child or grandchild of a person of a race indigenous to Sabah, and was born (whether on or after Malaysia Day or not) either in Sabah or to a father domiciled in Sabah at the time of the birth.

(7) The races to be treated for the purposes of the definition of "native" in Clause (6) as indigenous to Sarawak are the Bukitans, Bisayahs, Dusuns, Sea Dayaks, Land Dayaks, Kadayans, Kalabit, Kayans, Kenyahs (Including Sabups and Sipengs), Kajangs (including Sekapans, Kejamans, Lahanans, Punans, Tanjongs and Kanowits), Lugats, Lisums, Malays, Melanos, Muruts, Penans, Sians, Tagals, Tabuns and Ukits.

We were informed by one parent that the status cannot be changed because it was already within the system and the Education Offficer was not able to make the changes.

We have been given a copy of a letter signed by six concerned parents addressed to the President of the Sarawak Teachers Union seeking clarification on this matter, as attached. We also attach four examples of these cases where native school children are now classified as MELAYU.

We echo the concerns of these parents because it has great implications in the future. If such status is not clarified and maintained, it can be implied that a native person, once he or she is classified as a MALAY in official school documents, is a MUSLIM by virtue of the definition of Article 160.

The purpose of this press conference is therefore to highlight two matters:

1. The question we now pose to the Ministry of Education is why are native children now classified as MELAYU OR MALAY in schools? We therefore ask the Education Ministry to investigate this matter immediately.

2. We are afraid that this may just be the tip of the ice-berg and we would like to alert other native parents to check the status of their children before the matter becomes irreversible.


Instant Iban millionaires a nightmare for Taib

From Free Malaysia Today.

KUCHING: If Pakatan Rakyat coalition comes to power, Ibans can become instant millionaires! And that will be Chief Minister Taib Mahmud's worst nightmare.

All this is possible if PKR's plan to set up a Land Commission in Sarawak in its fight to return native customary rights (NCR) land to the people and compel oil palm giants to surrender the lands leased to them by the state to the natives materialises.

A small innocuous report headline "PKR to form Land Commission soon" in a local daily over the weekend has fired the imagination of locals.

Does a “millionaire Iban community” sound far-fetched?

Not if you read Sarawak PKR adviser Baru Bian's plan for the Land Commission, the recent judicial reviews on NCR land, and how together it could translate into millions of ringit for native communities if the Pakatan Rakyat coalition is voted into power in Sarawak.

Bian, who mooted the idea, said the commission would “investigate claims over issuance of land titles and also gazette areas as the party (PKR) had all along been fighting for recognition of native rights.”

“We are offering the rural folks of Sarawak a solution to their NCR issues... We are not only looking at natives in rural areas but also at urban Chinese and the Malays in the coastal areas as well,” said Bian in Borneo Post on Saturday.

Explaining the role of a Land Commission, he said it would be a special body set up by the state government to look into matters and issues concerning land.

Will this body have the authority and power to act independently? According to Bian, it does.

"It is called a commission because it has been commissioned and empowered to do something about a problem," said Bian.


Pakatan's promise

If Bian is elected and Pakatan takes over power in Sarawak, replacing the current Barisan Nasional government, then the people, particularly the Dayaks, can look forward to a Land Commission and obtain direct benefits.

According to Bian, the Land Commission would survey whole areas of NCR lands in Sarawak, which incidentally is what Prime Minsiter Najib Tun Razak has instructed Chief Minister Taib Mahmud to do with the recent perimeter survey exercise.

However, will the BN government go one step further and issue titles (pala tanah) for these surveyed lands? And who decides the “garis menoa” or boundaries of these lands?

So far, the BN state regime has made no comments on this matter.

According to Bian, a PKR Land Commission will not only survey the NCR land but will also have the power to grant titles to the lands.

This means that the “pemakai menoa” (territory) and “pulau galau” (communal forests) claimed by the Ibans will be fully recognised by the Land Commission and given land titles.

Within these boundaries, especially within the temuda (farmed land or secondary forest) areas, individual, and not only communal, titles will also be granted.

If Bian's Land Commission can implement all these measures, it will be a major breakthrough in efforts to empower the Ibans.

With their land recognised, the Ibans can finally go to banks and financial institutions to apply for loans with their land titles as collateral for mortgages.

Thus, the Ibans will have the same opportunities as other communities to start their own business with seed money from bank loans guaranteed with their land titles.


Ibans will have choices

But will this make Ibans instant millionaires overnight? Of course not, notes blogger Antu Beduru.

"Business is always a risk, but the potential to reap huge rewards will be possible. Once landowners are granted titles, they can sell their land. This is how the Ibans can become rich.

“But if they are smart, they will not sell their land but develop it. This is how they can become millionaires,” said Antu Beduru.

“They can invite oil palm plantation giants like Samling and WTK to form partnerships with them on their own terms," the blogger added.

Currently, oil palm plantations call the shots and dictate to the Ibans how much they get paid for renting their land from them.

The Ibans do not have the bargaining power because Taib and his deputy Alfred Jabu refused to grant the Ibans land titles, which makes these natives no better than slaves on their own lands.

However, when the Land Commission is set up, the Ibans will have the solution to their land issues, which is exactly what Taib and Jabu are afraid of.

They are afraid that the Ibans will finally realise how much economic and political power lie in their own hands when they have titles to their lands.

Who owns the most tracks of land in Sarawak? The Ibans. Not the state.

But Taib has used his Land Code to convert many native lands into state lands. Then he gave these parcels of land to Samling and WTK to plant oil palm.

In reality, the Ibans, and not the state, are the largest landowners in Sarawak. But Taib changed it all. His Cabinet ministers, including Iban lawmakers, agreed to vote in the Land Code which stripped the Ibans of their rights to their own lands.

So now vast tracks of land previously owned by the Ibans under the “pemakai menoa” and “pulau galau” have become state land overnight for Taib to give away to his family, friends and cronies.


Judicial success

But justice is not blind in the courts here. The High Court, the Appeals Court and the highest court in Malaysia, the Federal Court have all disagreed with Taib.

They have all ruled, in various cases, that the Ibans do indeed own their “pemakai menoa” and “pulau galau”.

The courts ruled that the Land Code in Sarawak was misinterpreted by the director of Land and Survey Department.

The landmark case of Nor anak Nyawai once and for all settled the issue and grants ownership of “pemakai menoa” and “pulau galau” to the Ibans.

Recently, the “Hj Ramli” case further extended the same principle to coastal lands owned by Malays. But the state government still refuses to grant titles to these lands despite the court rulings. Instead, the state is stubbornly fighting the precedent created in the Nor Nyawai Case.

So now that we have discovered that the courts and the laws of Malaysia do indeed recognise that the Ibans own huge tracks of lands in Sarawak and that the Land Code enacted by Taib's government is practically useless and has no legal standing, does this ownership of lands make the Ibans instant millionaires overnight? Not yet.

What will make Iban instant millionaires is when Samling and WTK and all the oil palm giants surrender the lands leased to them by the state to the original owners of the lands, with the oil palm growing on these lands.

The oil palm will then be automatically owned by the Ibans, as Samling and WTK would be recognised as trespassers on lands owned by the natives.


Vote for a Land Commission

In common law, trespassers have no rights over their cultivated crops. This ownership of hectares of oil palm planted by Samling and WTK and all the other oil palm giants will revert to the poor Ibans and make them instant millionaires!

By the stroke of a pen, the Ibans become instant millionaires just like how Taib made himself and his family, friends and cronies millionaires overnight.

And who will have the authority to decide this with the stroke of the pen? The Land Commission promised by Bian.

Bian's promise of a Land Commission is not just empty talk.

He has put his words into action. The Star on Jan 22, 2010, under a headlined "Oil palm firm told to return land to Ibans" reported that the High Court had ruled that a group of Iban longhouse folks from Bintulu have NCR rights to a disputed piece of land within a provisional lease issued to a plantation company.

In granting their rights to the lands, the court ruled that the provisional lease over the disputed 1,214ha was null and void.

Justice David Wong ordered the oil palm company, Ladang Sawit Bintulu Sdn Bhd, to leave the disputed area, excise it from its provisional lease and return it to the Ibans.

So, it is possible for Ibans to become instant millionaires. All you have to do is vote the Pakatan coalition into government and let Bian set up a Land Commission.

The original version first appeared on antubeduru.blogspot.

Monday, November 29, 2010

New PKR No. 2 Azmin Ali gets down to work: From S'wak, to Sabah, then Putrajaya!

Newly-elected PKR deputy president Azmin Ali lost no time getting down to work after being officially named the party’s No. 2, announcing plans to take a team on a roadshow to Sarawak in preparation for state polls he predicts will be held by March next year.

“At the latest, we expect the Sarawak state elections to be held in March. I have been discussing with our Sarawak chief Baru Bian and arrangements have already been made for me to take a team to the state on December 12,13 and 14,” Azmin told a press conference at the end of the party’s 7th National Congress held at the PJ Civic Centre.

“I will be taking several MPs and ADUNs to travel around Sarawak and share with them our success stories in managing administering the states in the peninsula and managing their economies. From there, we will move on to Sabah. It is my conviction that Pakatan will be able to make it in the next general election.”

The 71-seat Sarawak state assembly has to be dissolved before July next year. Chief Minister Taib Mahmud has already given broad hints that he will call for elections very soon.

Read more HERE

Friday, November 26, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: Chief Minister’s name is in black and white in the Register of Companies!

UPDATED

Reactions:

On record: Taib a shareholder of Mulu Resort at Malaysiakini.

Royal Mulu Resort: Bian reports Taib to MACC at Free Malaysia Today.

Baru Bian at MACC Kuching at The People's Parliament.

Shocking revelation in Sarawak at Anilnetto.com.

Baru Bian submit web address to MACC at Sarawak Update.


Press statement released by Baru Bian on Friday 26th November, 2010. KUCHING.


State Liaison Chief for PKR Sarawak, Baru Bian, accompanied by his lawyer Desmond Kho and several party members, paid a visit to the MACC state office at the 12th floor of Bangunan Sultan Iskandar at Simpang Tiga here today at 3pm.

Bian said serious allegations are reported in an article which is posted at a news portal called www.sarawakreport.org under the provocative heading of 'TAIB SHARE SHOCK!' at http://www.sarawakreport.org/2010/11/taib-share-shock-exclusive/

According to Bian, the article contains information which is of public interest, especially for Sarawakians. Bian said it is his public duty to alert the MACC and bring the article to the MACC's attention for further investigations.

“These are very serious allegations. As a responsible citizen of this country, it is my duty to bring this article to the attention of the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission. It is up to them to further investigate the allegations,” said Bian.

“Malaysians, Sarawakians in particular, would be interested to know if these allegations are true or not. The MACC has a public responsibility to serve the public interest,” said Bian.

Bian gave a printed copy of the article to Puan Suzita bte Marikan and Encik Omar Mokhtar bin Jahari, the MACC enforcement officers at the Investigations Unit.





Read Sarawak Report's exposé Taib Share Shock ! – Exclusive.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

You want to talk about Dayak rights and Dayak representation? Let’s talk.

UPDATED

Bian slams ignorant Dayak leaders in BN
Fri, 26 November 2010 12:02

By Joseph Tawie at Free Malaysia Today

KUCHING: Dayak leaders in Sarawak Barisan Nasional component parties who have done nothing significant to help improve their community's lot have no locus standi to question the role of Dayaks in the opposition.

Slamming critics who questioned the role of Dayaks in PKR, Sarawak PKR chairman Baru Bian said: “You can put hundreds of Dayaks as leaders; but if they do not fight for the interests of the Dayaks and have never protected their rights, we should not support them because they are useless."

Bian was replying to Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) president William Mawan Ikom who had accused PKR leaders of closing their eyes on Dayak issues in Sabah and Sarawak.

Mawan had said that considering Bian's long struggle for Dayak's rights, he was not appreciated by PKR.

“Bian, being a Dayak representative, is not being appreciated in the party. He always focuses on the struggles of the Dayaks and their rights, especially the native customary rights (NCR) land issues.

“This struggle does not speak well of PKR. Now that the Dayak community does not have a representative in PKR, my advice for them is to rely on the ruling BN government,” Mawan said.

Said Bian: "We don’t want to follow BN racist policies. PKR is not a racist party; it fights for justice of all Malaysians including Dayaks. This is why I am attracted to PKR.”

No reflection

Bian said the absence of Dayaks in PKR's top leadership did not mean that the rights of the Dayaks were not protected.

“We have Dayaks as president of SPDP, president of PRS, and the deputy president of PBB. And what have they done to help the Dayaks?

“But if you have a non-Dayak leading a party and fighting for the rights of the Dayaks, then he should be given full support,” he added.

Taking a swipe at long-serving Dayak politicians and state Cabinet members who were ignorant, Bian asked why they had failed to secure the rights of the Dayaks.

“Ask them why are they not looking after the interests and the rights of the Dayaks? Why are the issues of NCR land faced by the Dayaks still not solved?

“Only yesterday (State Land Development Minister and PRS president) James Masing suddenly woke up and found out that the common law and the adat are more important than the Land Code.

“He and other Dayak elected representatives should have known this a long time ago. They should have done something about it.

“We in PKR knew it all this while. PKR in Sarawak has been emphasising on the importance of NCR land in Sarawak. We have been fighting for the recognition of these rights for many years.

“This is an area which I am very passionate about,” said Bian, a foremost NCR lawyer in Sarawak.

Solution to NCR issues

Bian said he has proposed setting up a land commission empowered not only to resolve NCR land issues but issue titles as well.

“...we are offering to the rural folk of Sarawak a solution to the NCR land issues.

“... we propose that a land commission be formed with the power to not only investigate claims on NCR land, but also to issue titles, gazette the area and of course issue individual titles.

“Now we are not only looking at land owned by the rural natives but we are equally concerned with land issues affecting the Malays and the Chinese,” he said.

Bian urged the people not to be misled by the BN which has been in power for the last 47 years in Sarawak.

He said the state BN government has reduced Sarawak to one of the three poorest states in the country, and the people of Sarawak should put a stop to this.

“Let us change the state government, and the time is now,” Bian added, rebutting Masing who had urged the rakyat not to take PKR seriously because the opposition had nothing to offer.

Explaining why he was attracted to PKR, he said he was drawn to PKR's platform, policy and what it was fighting for.

“I am attracted to PKR because it is fighting for the justice of all Malaysians including Dayaks. Dayaks’ interests and rights are protected.

“We ask all the Dayaks in Sarawak to come over and support PKR instead of PBB, SPDP and PRS if you want your land to be protected,” he said.

____________________________________________



Baru Bian faces new battle after party polls at Malaysian Mirror

Chris Reubens
Thursday, 25 November 2010 11:47
baru_bian2KUCHING - Failing to make into the veep post in the just concluded PKR polls, Sarawak Liaison Chief Baru Bian returned to his homeland only to face another 'battle' from his Dayak counterparts from the ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional (BN).

Sarcasm was thrown at Baru Bian for his defeat in the party race by two BN Dayak chiefs, namely the President of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), James Masing, and President of Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP), William Mawan Ikom.

Masing said that PKR is not serious about Sarawak and has urged Sarawakians, especially the rural people, not to take the party seriously adding that the party has nothing to offer.

Similarly, Mawan said the people will have to rely on the BN government as there is no Dayak from the Borneo states represented in Kuala Lumpur.

Taking the criticism in his stride, Baru Bian in a press conference on Wednesday, said it was almost as if Masing and Mawan were concerned about having no Dayak PKR representatives in KL.

He pointed out that despite BN’s 47 years of rule in Sarawak, the Dayak leaders, one of them being the number two man in PBB, Alfred Jabu, had been unable to tackle the most important issue to the people which is the Native Customary Rights Land.

Taking a pot shot at Masing who made a statement earlier that State Common Law takes precedence over NCR, Baru Bian said PKR has all these years continued to emphasize on the importance of NCR land in Sarawak.

“We fought for the recognition of these rights and my statement still stand that we are going to form a Land Commissioner not only to investigate individual claims of NCR, but also the power to issue titles, individual titles, and gazette the area,” he said.

Instead of relying on BN who has failed them for 47 years, Baru Bian urged for the Dayak's support to PKR which he said will fight for their land and rights.

Baru Bian also said that he agrees with DAP, a Pakatan Rakyat (PR) partner, who has expressed hope to see an automatic land lease renewal. “We are also concern about the Chinese and Malay land especially in the urban and coastal areas,” he added.

“PKR is a multiracial party and the party does not emphasize or fight for only one race in the country. We fight for justice and fairness for all races and thus we are not racially polarized. That is why I choose this party. So I beg to differ what Mawan said” he stressed.

According to Baru Bian, a post mortem would be conducted soon to find out the party's weaknesses and strength.

Baru Bian said even if a Dayak is not elected, it does not mean that the Dayak community is not being taken care of. Whoever, he added, is elected will ensure that the welfare of all races including the Indian, Chinese, Orang Ulu, Dayak or Malay, will be taken care of.

He pointed out that a true leader will fight for all races and he is confident that the winning leaders will take their responsibilities equally.

PKR do not talk about majority or minority as justice is for all and the party refused to follow the system of BN, the PKR state chief added. - MM


________________________________________________

James Masing is at it again.

In an article in yesterday's Borneo Post, Masing: PKR not serious, Masing loudly derided PKR. It would be futile to engage the man on his irrelevant and remarkably outdated points. However, I will take him up on his statement that “Sarawak-based BN parties will play by the rule and will continue to protect the rights of the people and further develop the state.”

I challenge Masing, who is the Minister of Land Development and a member of the government of the day, to withdraw all pending court cases involving the natives and their rights to their native customary lands IMMEDIATELY. Let us see Sarawak-based BN parties protect the rights of the people. After all, did Masing not state unequivocally HERE that “State common law takes precedence over NCR?”

Over to you, Masing.

In expected fashion, William Mawan Ikom lamented in yesterday's Star that the Dayaks are not represented in the top line-up of PKR, implying that Dayak issues and rights would not have a voice in PKR's leadership.

It seems Mawan is still harping on racial politics, a thing of the past. PKR is a multi-racial party championing democratic principles, meritocracy and justice.

What is the point of having a hundred and one Dayak leaders in BN (read: Jabu in PBB, Mawan himself in SPDP, and my dear friend Masing in PRS) when not a single one will, in true Dayak fashion of “agi idup agi ngelaban,” defend Dayak rights and issues?

Over to you, Mawan.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

“Bring it on!” says Baru Bian.

UPDATED

Reactions:

Baru Bian Tak Sabar Nak Jadi Ketua Menteri Sarawak

BN SARAWAK MENGHADAPI LALUAN GETIR

'BARU BIAN' SKANDAL GAY BARU ANWAR DI SARAWAK ??

PILIHARAYA SARAWAK : Baru Bian cabar Taib Mahmud dan 'Bomoh'
____________________________________________

PRESS STATEMENT

Issued by: Baru Bian, State Liaison Chief for PKR
Date: Wednesday 24th November 2010
Time: 10pm
Venue: Messrs Baru Bian, R.H. Plaza, Jalan Lapangan Terbang
____________________________________________




The Chief Minister of Sarawak has announced that he has finally been ‘inspired’ to dissolve the Dewan Undangan Negeri, but stopped short of naming the date.

At long last, the CM has come to his senses. Now he realises the need to call for elections. But having said that, it is sad indeed that the Chief Minister of the state of Sarawak has to depend upon ‘inspiration’. This is because it implies that he is dependent upon an outside force, presumably a ‘bomoh’, for supernatural guidance. Such a primitive practice, verging on the occult, is highly irresponsible and callous of a leader in the cyber age.

The Chief Minister should be transparent and open on the date for the elections because it is of public interest, as practiced in any democratic country throughout the world. I am of the opinion that being so secretive of the date implies that the CM is insecure, fearful and uncertain of his future. So should he be.

PKR Sarawak, and our coalition partners in Pakatan Rakyat, are all geared up, prepared and ready for elections. Bring it on!


Ketua Menteri Sarawak telah mengumumkan bahawa beliau telah akhirnya mendapat inspirasi untuk membubarkan Dewan Undangan Negeri, tetapi tidak menyatakan tarikh sebenar.

Akhirnya Ketua Menteri telah menyedari betapa perlunya pilihanraya diadakan. Walau bagaimanapun, perkara yang menyedihkan kita adalah beliau masih bergantung penuh pada kuasa luar, dijangkakan kuasa 'bomoh' bagi membimbing beliau dalam tugas hariannya. Sebagai seorang pemimpin negeri yang ulung di era cyber dan serba moden serta bertamadun ini, adalah amat tidak bertanggungjawab bagi beliau

Ketua Menteri seharus dan sepatutnya bertindak telus dan jujur dengan tarikh pilihanraya, kerana pilihanraya umum adalah kepentingan bersama di kalangan masyarakat umum kita, seperti yang diamalkan di mana-mana negara yang berdasarkan demokratik di dunia ini. Saya berpendapat, jika beliau berahsia dengan tarikh pilihanraya ini, beliau dilihat sebagai seorang pemimpin yang berasa tidak selamat, pengecut and tidak pasti dengan masa depannya sendiri.

PKR Sarawak, dan juga rakan-rakan parti politik kita di dalam Pakatan Rakyat kini suda bersedia sepenuhnya menghadapi pilihanraya ini. Jom mengundi!

What are your priorities, Awang Tengah?

UPDATED

Reactions:

PKR asks state govt to get priorities right at Malaysian Mirror

Beauty vs health: Bian speaks of warped priorities at Free Malaysia Today

PKR question government priority at Sarawak Update

__________________________

PRESS STATEMENT

Issued by: Baru Bian, State Liaison Chief for PKR
Date: Wednesday 24th November 2010
Time: 1pm
Venue: Keadilan Stampin, Batu Tiga
_________________________


On Monday November 22, 2010, the Borneo Post reported that the Second Minister of Planning and Resource Management Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan announced that Lawas is to get a EM11 million ringgit facelift which will include beautification of the town square and build ongoing infrastructure.

We welcome Awang Tengah’s proposals but we question his timing and priorities. Here are the reasons why.

The Town Square first phase would cost RM7 million and and the Waterfront a further RM4 million. Priority will be given to the RM35 million Seri Malaysia hotel situated on the Waterfront. Attached to the hotel will be a shopping arcade.




Allow me to remind Awang Tengah that the hospital project for Lawas was announced and approved many years ago. It is well overdue. The Federal Government had to wait for the State to find a venue for the proposed new hospital. However, the land offered was found to be unsuitable and swampy. As a result the Federal Government is now forced to build the new hospital on the present site. This resulted in renting of shop-lots for continuous operation which to this date is a major issue as there is no mortuary as Chinese landlords refuse to rent out their shops for the dead!

I have two questions for Awang Tengah. Firstly, will the promise made by Awang Tengah to upgrade the hospital be really implemented or just end up another failed and broken promise by BN? And secondly, are a hotel and shopping mall more urgent than a hospital?




This brings us to the crux of the issue. What are the priorities for Lawas?

Basic amenities in health care (hospitals and clinics), education (schools) and and infrastructure (roads) should be upgraded. Take the Lawas to Ba’Kelalan Road for example. What we have been promised is a road connecting Lawas to Ba’Kelalan. And recently, a project reportedly to cost over a hundred million was completed linking Lawas to Ba’Kelalan. Actually, I have seen a letter that states it is only a ’jalan sementara’. And this jalan sementara is actually a logging road that was first constructed by Samling! So millions were spent on an already existing dirt road?

Nevertheless, we welcome roads, but what about the owners of the lands through which this road passes? Has any compensation budget been allocated or given to the owners of the land?

Awang Tengah also mentioned tourism. True, Lawas has a huge potential for tourism and we support the development of tourism for Lawas. We hope that this is a serious proposal by the Government as we have been told of plans for an agropolis to develop the highlands’ agricultural potential. The Government also proposed the RGC (Rural Growth Centres). But what Lawas has seen until now are mere unfulfilled promises.


Read also: Death of our mother Kam Agong due to medical negligence

White Rajah, White Paper, whitewash

The “White Rajah” of Sarawak had the audacity to pull the wool over the people's eyes when he sanctimoniously proclaimed that he supported a move to publish a White Paper to punish “naughty people” who caused trouble in his scarred kingdom. The all-important paper would presumably detail the misdeeds of the outsiders who came to Sarawak to disrupt public peace and order. They would inevitably be branded a threat to state security and swiftly thrown out. All these so-called instigators have no business to disrupt the activities of Taib Mahmud. Leave him alone. Let him continue his rapacious work. Let he and his cronies pillage the treasury uninterrupted. Let he and his family members milk the land without pause.

A White Paper is a serious matter. It is an “authoritative report” that addresses grave issues and spells out the measures the government would take to tackle them. This way, people get an inkling of what it is all about. Often, a White Paper is a response to an internal or external threat. Taib was right. Even during the colonial era, the British masters published a White Paper. In 1962, they came out with such a report to tell the local inhabitants of Sarawak (still then a British colony) the benefits they would enjoy if they linked up with the peninsula to form the Federation of Malaysia. Better inside the federation than outside where “predatory alien neighbours” like Indonesia lay in wait. The “White Tuan” told the brown people: “Malaysia is good for you.”


After wide-eyed Sarawak joined the federation, another White Paper popped up a year later and this time it was all about the threat of militant communism. The government raised the red flag warning that the diabolical Communist Party of Malaya was coordinating violent activities from the Malaysia-Thai border. If the flame was not doused in double quick time, it would eventually engulf the peninsula and consume Sarawak as well. Then again in 1966 the government released yet another White Paper specifically aimed at Sarawak. Once again, it was all about the menacing Red tide growing stronger with the emergence of the Sarawak United Communist Front. There was no way the fledging state could counter the menace. So the Malaysian government argued in the White Paper that it was its solemn responsibility to protect its “child” from this marauder. People were probably swayed by this sales pitch: Sarawak would perish without its big brother.


But what in the world is Taib trying to do with his White Paper? His White Paper is different. His White Paper is to whitewash his misdeeds and tell bare-faced lies. He wants to punish mischief makers for sniffing out his bulging pocket. He wants to penalise all those extremists who went to the extreme of laying bare his ill-gotten gains. The whole world now knows the sordid tale of the “rape” of Sarawak. He certainly put in years of hard work to develop not Sarawak but his property empire. He has been feasting on Sarawak for 30 long years. He has reduced the state to a pauper. No mainstream media in the state or in the peninsula dared expose his dark reign. Then came the alternative media and Taib suddenly found himself a weakened ruler. He has no where to hide except in a White Paper.

His White Paper is his defence, his last hope of saving himself, his family, his Cabinet cronies from a thump. It does not matter if there are no communists in the bush, in the cupboard or under his bed. Just label all members of the opposition, individuals, organisations and alternative media as extremists and hey presto, they become a threat to the “unity, peace, harmony, tranquillity and the security of Sarawakians”. This line of argument is silly. It does not hold water. People who take the wraps off corrupt leaders are not bad people. People who surreptitiously enrich themselves and let the state go to the dogs are bad people. People who speak up against the greed of the leaders are not naughty but brave. People who seek change are not troublemakers but concerned citizens who do not want Taib and his clique to continue abusing the state.

It is always the governments that produce a White Paper if something serious crops up or had come to pass. But this cannot be the definitive answer. It is always one-sided because the information comes from only one source. The White Paper can be slanted to suit the taste of the government. It can be used to burnish the government and tarnish the opposition. It can be misused to prop up a shaky state. It can be a cover for buying over the sympathy of the people. It is time the people of Sarawak wrote their own White Paper and told the truth: “Taib is not good for you."

Taken from White Rajah, White Paper, whitewash

Also read:

Taib defends move to shackle opposition with 'White Paper'

Sarawak DAP gets a earful from SUPP














Read: “Utter Disgust” – PKR Leader Baru Bian Speaks Out

Monday, November 22, 2010

It has taken James Masing ten years to realise that NCR is upheld by the law?





A headline on page seven of the Sunday Post yesterday (above) drew my attention. James Masing claims that PRS' supreme council members Patrick Sibat and Azizi Morni, who were tasked to carry out research on the issue of NCR, have discovered that the common law (i.e. the findings of Malaysian courts) overrides State law on NCR.

What Masing is essentially saying is that the natives of Sarawak can now claim not just temuda land but also pemakai menua and pulau galau as part of their NCL.

This is indeed a bold move by PRS to take a turnabout stand on NCR and hint at finally agreeing that the natives of Sarawak have legal and constitutional rights over their pemakai menua and pulau galau. This turnaround is even more spectacular in the context of Masing's interview with Aljazeera on 19th March 2009 (see below).



I wonder if the Chief Minister will be crossed by PRS' latest flexing of muscle or is this just political posturing as election fever heats up?

What is surprising is that Masing and PRS have taken this long to arrive at this realisation. Perhaps Masing is not aware that the common law which he is alluding to was established nearly ten years ago by the landmark and historic Nor Nyawai case!

The State Government requested the Federal Court to review the Nor Nyawai decision which it argued had been wrongly decided. In 2007, the Federal Court dismissed the State Government’s appeal and affirmed the decision in Nor Nyawai. The State Government made a second attempt to reverse the decision in Nor Nyawai by applying to the Federal Court for a review of the earlier Federal Court’s decision but to no avail, thus settling and upholding once and for all the decision of Nor Nyawai.

PKR Sarawak has always championed and stood for the rights of the natives to NCL as established by the Nor Nyawai case since March 2001 and now we are happy that PRS and James Masing have finally, after ten long years, seen the light. Perhaps Masing can now also share his findings and the good news with his fellow native colleagues in SPDP and PBB?

The Nor Nyawai case is fully explained HERE.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Pigeon Mountain of Hope

by Baru Bian


I was rudely awakened by the howling wind that ferociously beat through the woods and occasionally whistled through the cracks and crevices in the wall above me. I felt unusually cold and the sharp excruciating pain through my body jolted me to a complete state of consciousness. The crude, rough surface of the wooden plank was cruel. The deafening thunder echoed through the night into the wee hours, lightning flashes through the pitch dark space surrounding me. It rained the whole night.

I was sleeping in the guest house at a Youth Motivational Camp, as one of the invited speakers for about 100 Form Five and Form Six Lun Bawang students from four Secondary Schools within the Lawas District in June 2005, on the highest mountain in Long Semado area, a prayer mountain called Buduk Balud; the “Pigeon Mountain”.

According to Lun Bawang narrative, ‘the whole world’ was at one time under water, because of a great flood (Ereb Rayeh); including the Long Semado highlands. All the surrounding mountains were submerged under water, except ‘the Pigeon Mountain’, for there stood proudly above the plain of waters, a size of a wild pigeon’s chest (Ruuk Balud) left untouched by the flood, it was thus named; “Buduk Balud”.

Picking my steps up the single pole ladder, through the mossy path in the thick mist of the morning, I ventured to the peak of Buduk Balud, walking under the thick canopy of one of the oldest tropical rainforest of the world. Birds chirping and singing, insects and butterflies dancing in the still air, flowers sprout almost suddenly all around me. Far beyond the horizon, silhouetted against the clear blue sky, I could clearly see the tip of Mount Murud, the highest mountain in Sarawak. A Lun Bawang hymn leapt from within my soul, “Tuhan Allah Rayeh Tu-Tu” (‘How Great Thou Art’), rising beyond the tip of Mount Murud to the heavens.

From a vantage point, I scan down through eagle eyes the beautiful valley of the Upper Trusan River, geographically referred to as the Long Semado highlands. Like a wild pigeon, my memories flew back in time, 1968-1969; Long Semado Primary School, a boarding school catering for seven surrounding villages that make Long Semado highland. I remember my teachers who were gifted with creativity, in composing songs with local lyrics that depicted school life, real life, and a world of our own. We sang with patriotism “Pa Liang Wat Gerawet” (“Below Wat Gerawat”-a mountain range in the east). Independence, freedom, training, poverty, discipline, sufferings, and perseverance personify my beloved Primary School Long Semado.

Now the football field is still engulfed with patches of white puffy morning mist, as I see figures slowly, sleepily and lazily moving from the wooden hostel, for the 6 o’clock morning PE (physical exercise). Sleeves hang freely from each shoulder; we have found the best technique of keeping warm in one of the coldest highland in Sarawak, by tucking both arms inside our shirts. We walked Indian-file, half-crouching like an army of penguins; no sweaters, no sport gears, bare feet grudgingly step on fresh morning dew. Bare skins, exposed to the freezing cold air, scantily covered; we shivered to the bones. Our thin blue coloured ‘apeh’ (old Chinese) shorts and shirts that barely could fulfill their purposes; are tattered torn and patched, the only pair perhaps for many of us.

I followed reluctantly the fresh bare-footed steps printed on the dew covered grasses before me all leading to the place where the head boy is now standing. The rigour of the morning drill caused great anxiety. We asked if this is the right path that we must tread and endure to fulfill the hope of our parents; “son, go to school and be a Tuan D.O. (District Officer) one day”.

The steam like vapour still hovers on the surface of the Semado River, which flows into man-made canals irrigating the lush greens padi fields of Long Semado Rayeh as we scramble for the morning bath. Boys and girls dip, jump, wash and swim freely. Freedom! For the younger ones that word depicts Eden; no shame, no barrier, complete nakedness! Others squat by the river bank waiting for such an opportune time or rather some kind of divine inspiration to fulfill this morning ritual. Many of us would do it the unholy way, by selecting a smooth rounded rock or stone half-submerged, but sufficient space for one to crawl flat on your stomach, head first, dip in, and brush with one or two quick strokes through dishevelled hair. That’s enough! Done!

With drenched clothes, we march to the refectory, plates in hand as we queue up for the morning breakfast. Prayer in song; “Thank you for the World So Sweet…” echoed through the dining hall.

Porridge and soya sauce, what a joy and blessing from the routine menu of porridge and salt. God must be smiling on us today, we thought. Savouring every scoop, we look forward for another meal, another surprise. Lunch and dinner; would it be canned sardine, sambal ikan bilis, or curry chicken? That would be months to come. Or perhaps, it would be the same; boiled fern with salt? Suffering! Perseverance! We pray and hope for another blessing, another surprise, maybe soon.

A streak of sun rays suddenly broke through the clouds. The sun rises steadily above Wat Gerawet in the east, part of a range of mountain delineating the international boarder between Sarawak and Kalimantan, Indonesia. I heard Dr. Bob Langub, the other speaker with me, calling. It’s breakfast time on Buduk Balud.

Porridge, soya sauce, fried ikan bilis and fried peanuts. It looks familiar yet something different. Yes, we have additional, we have extras. A lawyer and a doctor; we savoured it all. We have come a long, long way. Or have we?

At the Camp, another speaker spoke of the deprivation and spiritual decadence of the third generation of the Lun Bawangs, a recession into the past. This group of students is just a portion of this third generation Lun Bawangs. Conjured in my mind a similarity; the history of Israel after Joshua’s death; ‘another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel’. I fear for a repetition. I prayed for forgiveness, deliverance and for a revival; for my people and myself.

Like Noah’s pigeon, Buduk Balud, “the Pigeon Mountain” gives me hope. Like that Rainbow of Covenant it gives me divine assurance that another “Murut Miracle” is looming, if only my people will humble themselves and seek His face once again.





Now we are not afraid
Although we know there's much to fear
We were moving mountains long
Before we knew we could

Yet now I'm standing here
My heart's so full I can't explain
Seeking faith and speaking words
I never thought I'd say

There can be miracles, when you believe
Though hope is frail, it's hard to kill
Who knows what miracles you can achieve
When you believe, somehow you will
You will when you believe

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Radio Free Sarawak gets seal of approval from BN minister James Masing

Press Release from Radio Free Sarawak, 18th November 2010

Speaking in a set piece interview on the Rajang River log jam disaster, broadcast Friday 19th November on Radio Free Sarawak, James Masing, who is the Iban representative of the area and a senior minister in Taib’s BN government said that he welcomed the new radio station’s arrival on the scene.

Speaking in Iban he said he “liked the idea” of the alternative radio station and said “other ministers would be happy to talk on your show, it is very nice”. Coming out in favour of allowing Sarawak a free media, he also signalled his approval of Sarawak’s blogging community, such as Sarawak Report and Malaysia Today. He said, “bloggers are everywhere, you cannot stop them”.

In a wide ranging interview, conducted in a mixture of Iban and Malay with RFS’s anchor man, Papa Orang Utan, Masing confessed that the government has been getting it wrong on a number of important fronts including logging he said “God is angry with us for taking the logs”. He admitted there was not enough supervision from the NREB or The Forest Dept. By doing so he effectively contradicted the government’s claims that this is a natural disaster and not a man-made disaster. He also acknowledged BN’s lamentable failure to implement key human rights in native areas, accepting that many indigenous people still suffer grievously because they have not received birth certificates or ID cards over the last 30 years of Taib’s government.

James Masing who is minister of land and the leader of the key Iban PRS party with 9 seats in the coalition had just completed a traditional Miring ceremony in Balleh to appease the gods over what had happened with the logging disaster. Despite his obvious reservations, he nevertheless resisted repeated questions about whether he was planning to ‘jump ship’ before the next election.

The full interview can be heard on Radio Free Sarawak on Friday 19th November at 6.30-7.30 am - 7590 kHz and repeated at 1800-1900 - 15680 kHz, alternatively log on to our podcast at Radio Free Sarawak.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

George Chan’s 1Malaysia?

Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister George Chan says Sarawakians should reject all candidates standing under the ticket of Semenanjung-based opposition parties.

He claimed they would only listen to their political masters from Semenanjung Malaysia and forget about the interests of Sarawak people and their well-being, according to a Borneo Post report.

“At least all the state BN components are truly Sarawak parties. We have been and shall continue to defend and protect the rights, interests and well-being of all the people here,” Chan said.

Let me get this straight – only Sarawak-based parties can serve Sarawakians best? Is this his idea of 1Malaysia?

I supposes he thinks Taib’s administration has worked in the best interests of Sarawak and its people. (Obviously, he is not telling us about all those bothersome Sarawak Report exposes.)

And what about Umno’s role in Sabah then?

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Taken from Anilnetto.com.

Also read Sarawak DUN Speaker tampering with sacred Hansard.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Adha

“As we celebrate Hari Raya Kurban with our Muslim friends and neighbours, I am deeply reminded of the sacrifices we must make to ensure that our children and grandchildren will be able to co-exist in a Sarawak that stands for mutual respect, religious freedom, peace, prosperity and equal rights for all.”





























“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 13:34-35

Will Malay land rights victory in Sarawak galvanise voters?

A Malay landowner, Mohamad Rambli Kawi, has won a ground breaking Kuching High Court judgment upholding native customary rights (NCR) to land.

These rights are guaranteed by Sarawak's land code and the federal constitution, but are given scant recognition by the executive.

Mohamad Rambli, 63, sued the state government, after the Land and Survey department had declared that 1010 acres he owned in Loba Rambongan was in fact 'state land'.

He argued, successfully, that he had acquired an NCR claim to the land, after having compensated the local Malay landowners for their ancestral land or tanah pesaka, over the past quarter of a century. He had obtained the NCR land under the Malay custom of serah or transfer of ancestral land.

Baru Bian and See Chee How, state PKR chairperson and information chief respectively, represented Mohamad Rambli.

The two lawyers are non-Malays fighting for the land rights of all Sarawakian natives, including Malays.

Baru Bian described the NCR ruling as highly significant. "The Malays are also accorded with native customary rights premised upon custom or adat, which is in accordance with the Sarawak Land Code."

High Court Justice Linton Albert found that the local Malays had established NCR claims to land by settling the area, as well as using adjacent swampland or forest, as a source of charcoal, building materials, and food.

Aerial photographs from half a century ago had demonstrated the area had been settled by the natives, proving they had established rights to the land, as specified under the land statutes.

According to the judge, these claims to land used for foraging are as strong as the Iban NCR claims to virgin forest or pulau. The Iban leave certain forests undisturbed to allow sustainable gathering of food and jungle produce, a custom known as pemakai menoa.

"The acquisition of native customary land has lately gained prominence and (has been) consistently recognised by our appellate courts. It is now well defined and firmly established and is an integral part of the corpus of our substantive laws," Justice Linton Albert pointed out in his 13-page judgment.

Court ruling opens floodgates

Sarawak's government must now be anxious that independent-minded judges have opened the floodgates for Malay landowners to mount legal challenges. The government also faces further judicial curbs to its cavalier acquisition of natives' land for so-called 'development'.

Even now, there are over 200 NCR lawsuits against the state government and associated companies percolating in the courts. Native communities throughout the state, including Malays in Lundu, Iban in Sebuyau, Penan in Baram and Lun Bawang in Limbang, have protested angrily against the government's 'hostile takeovers' of their only assets.

All of Sarawak's ethnic groups have felt the impact of the loss of their land to the insatiable appetite of 'developers'.

Last week in Lawas, the police arrested five Lun Bawang protestors, Nasum Singa, Samuel Sakai, Charles Gor, Akal Kading and Sulaiman Joseph, for attempting to defend their NCR land from incursion by a contractor tasked with setting up a giant gas pipeline for Petronas from Sabah to Bintulu.

The police also hacked down the protestors' hut at the site of the blockade across the contractor's access road.

The demolition of the blockade finally allowed the pipe-laying company to bring in "mainly Bangladeshi" labourers, as reported by Sarawak Indigenous Community News.

It is ironic that state ministers had promised the pipeline would provide employment opportunities for local Sarawakians.

The five men were released without charge. Lawas police have been slated for springing into action to arrest the natives at the Petronas gas pipeline blockade, while remaining indifferent to repeated reports by the villagers regarding the contractor's incursions.

A similar pattern was seen in the arrests last month of seven Iban in Sebuyau, for obstructing a timber concession holder, partly owned by chief minister Abdul Taib Mahmud's family.

New land schemes for old

Many communities' NCR lands have been stripped of the timber from primary forests. The land is then converted into plantations of palm oil. Another new plantation scheme entails fast-growing imported tree species, to be harvested for wood.

As minister in charge of natural resources, Taib enjoys untrammeled power over granting concessions and acquiring 'state land'.

He is able to approve or veto even the tiniest shop-house project. He has amended the Land Code numerous times over the past 29 years, to weaken native communities' resistance to land takeovers.

Timber and plantation tycoons aligned with Taib's family have amassed staggering wealth. Taib and his family are reported to own property fortunes all over the developed world, and recently boasted casually that "I've got more money than I can ever spend."

Landowners of all races, unite?

Baru Bian must be hoping that the recent court rulings in support of NCR landowners, and police suppression of land rights protests, might galvanise Sarawak's rural Malay, Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu communities into seeking a change of government in the coming state election. These groups comprise some 70 per cent of the population.

However, public awareness of these events is patchy, at best, among impoverished rural communities.

PKR has been attempting to distribute party news sheets to rural Sarawakian communities, detailing alleged corruption in the state and promising recognition for NCR landowners if PKR is elected into office.

Unfortunately, the driving force behind the news sheets was Zaid Ibrahim, now in exile from the party. It remains to be seen whether PKR will continue to pursue this effort to disseminate information to rural Sarawak.

Another channel for information is a newly established shortwave radio station, Radio Free Sarawak.

This radio station is broadcasting independently of the government-controlled media, for a modest two hours a day to rural communities. The radio station appears to aim to spread, among rural Sarawakians, the news easily accessible to internet-savvy Malaysians elsewhere.

But it remains clear to all observers that news still travels slowly in rural Sarawak.

____________________________________________________________________

By KERUAH USIT, a human rights activist - 'anak Sarawak, bangsa Malaysia'. This weekly column is an effort to provide a voice for marginalised Malaysians. Keruah Usit can be contacted at keruah_usit@yahoo.com.

Taken from Malaysiakini.

Read also Historic landmark case recognises the rights of Malays over native customary land.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Zaid’s decision won’t derail Pakatan’s aim in Sarawak.

By Joseph Tawie

KUCHING: Sarawak PKR is unaffected by Zaid Ibrahim's planned resignation from the party. State chairman Baru Bian said Zaid's decision will not derail Pakatan Rakyat's goal to dethrone the Barisan Nasional here.

“His resignation will not affect our goal as we Sarawakians will stay on course and see the bigger picture, that is, to change the state BN government,” he said.

Bian said everyone had the right to join and leave any political party and that Zaid had his freedom of choice.

“Leaders come and leaders go. No leaders are indispensible. But to a certain extent, of course, we look up to leaders who can lead and who have vision.

"Most important is that we in Sarawak have a platform which can be used to meet our aspirations. For now, this vehicle is PKR and it is the best vehicle so far,” he said.

Bian said Pakatan was focussed on changing the state government and the party was oncourse with this agenda.

"Hopefully, it will affect the whole nation since they (Barisan Nasional) said that Sabah and Sarawak are their ‘deposit’.

“I would like to call for unity in Pakatan Rakyat especially in PKR in the state as we are facing the coming state election. And as long as we are united, I think changing the state government is possible,” he said.

On the ground effects of Zaid’s impending departure from the party, Bian said that he would leave it to the people to judge.

"People have differing views on his leaving. There are people who support him as well as people who don’t respect him.

"But I don’t want the internal squabbles to distract us from the main goal, that is, to change the state BN government,” he said, adding that no political party in Malaysia is free from such problems.

“There is no perfect political party. Perhaps PKR is so democratic that such internal squabbles appear to be so big,” he said.


Taken from Free Malaysia Today.

Radio Free Sarawak has a website.



radiofreesarawak.org

Monday, November 15, 2010

Historic landmark case recognises the rights of Malays over native customary land.


Baru Bian outside the High Court (Mahkamah Tinggi I) earlier today.

In the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak at Kuching today, Justice Datuk Linton Albert found in favour of Mohamad Rambli bin Kawi ("the Plaintiff") to have acquired native customary rights over 65 parcels of land in Salak Land District, Kuching, Sarawak.

The Plaintiff’s legal counsel, Mr. Baru Bian, stated the decision as being very significant as it declares once again that the Malays are also accorded with native customary rights premised upon custom or adat, which is in accordance with the Sarawak Land Code. This is a victory to the natives of Sarawak who have been fighting for the further recognition of their rights over native customary land since the landmark case of Nor Anak Nyawai.

The issues are that the custom of Serah of native customary rights over native customary land which in accordance with the Malay custom in Sarawak is now affirmed as being valid.

Secondly, the practice and custom of the Malays which is known as Cari Makan (foraging over the surrounding areas of the land to sustain the livelihood of their well-being) is also recognised. This Cari Makan concept is similar to the Nor Anak Nyawai case, whereby the Cari Makan custom of the Dayak natives is known as Pemakai Menua.

Having found the existence of native customary rights over the existing land in this case, the court ordered compensation to be paid by the State Government to the Plaintiff, to be assessed by the Registrar of the High Court.


Sharing a light moment with the Plaintiff (centre) and a key witness.


Further reading:

Sarawakian Malays have NCR rights too, says court (FreeMalaysiaToday).

Change We Must.

Zulhaidah bt Suboh.

The People’s Parliament.

The Nor Nyawai Case.