Thursday, January 13, 2011

Commercial ‘land bank’ for Sarawak

The Sarawak government plans to make 'millionaires' out of native landowners by developing their lots on a joint-venture basis.

KUCHING: Chief Minister Taib Mahmud – undaunted by the more than 200 native customary rights (NCR) land cases pending in court against the state government, allegations of “land grab” and the opposition’s flogging of his government as “corrupt” – is set to create a “land bank” to be “modelled like a stock exchange company”’

Taib said the land bank would be a private company which would be 100% Bumiputera-owned with landowners as shareholders.

Lands belonging to these “shareholders” will be transferred to the bank and then developed on a joint-venture basis with companies or venture capitalists.

While quick to assert that the land bank idea is at a conceptual stage, Taib said that as a prelude, the state government would first establish a native estate programme to manage lands owned by Bumiputeras.

“In Sarawak, Bumiputeras own lots of land but unfortunately, most of these lands are not properly managed or fully utilised.

“By participating in the native estate concept, owners would see their lands being changed from mere cultivated lands to assets that could also be sold and bought among Bumiputeras through the share system,” he said.

According to Taib, Bumiputeras in Sarawak own some two million hectares of land.

” Imagine if we could invest in at least 30% of the two million hectares and turn them into new assets – many Bumiputeras would have assets worth up to thousands of millions of ringgit,” he said.

Land grabs

Side-stepping a question as to whether the native estate concept had been tested, Taib said that the state had developed nearly 200,000 hectares.

“But because of the size of the land involved in the concept, there would be lots of negotiation, especially on native boundaries.

“The people need to understand the high returns that could be generated if the native lands are developed.

“Anyway, the formula is to attract many participants and we are going to see whether the Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Felcra) and Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) could come in and help,” he said when launching the “Survival of Bumiputeras in socio-economy and politics” seminar here recently.

Barely days ago, State Land Development Minister James Masing went to great lengths to convince the rural communities that the state government had “no intention” of robbing them of their land as alleged by the opposition.

“We have no intention of robbing the people of their land. Your rights will always be protected. There will be dividends and compensations,” he said after announcing that the state was“looking for ways to form joint ventures to open up oil palm plantations in a bid to improve the economic status of the rural communities in the long term.

Last month, Masing had declared that the state government intended to double its oil palm plantation area from the current 920,000 hectares to 2 million hectares by 2020.

The announcement shocked human rights and environmental campaigners who are concerned about the ruthless alienation of native lands and the rapid degradation of Sarawak’s rainforests.

Compensations and dividends

Meanwhile, Sarawak PKR information chief See Chee How has his own take on the government’s pledge on compensations and dividends for native land owners.

The state’s track record on such matters as ownerships, payments and dividends have, thus far, been poor.

Already, there are cases pending against oil palm companies, in addition to NCR matter,.

“Non-payment of bonuses and dividends is common among joint ventures between the natives and oil palm companies.

“Most natives cannot do anything to ask for payment of bonuses and dividends… which is why they have to resort to blockades,” he said, referring to the ongoing blockade by the Penan community in Baram in a bid to protect their communal property from trespassers.

The blockade was a result of several failed attempts to get the authorties to step in and rescind licences issued to timber companies.

The Sarawak government has declared that it intends to convert one million hectares of secondary rainforest into oil palm plantations within the next 10 years.

Taken from Free Malaysia Today.


Anonymous said...

BN is scared of PR's aggressive policy to issue titles to NCR lands. So BN is now trying to hoodwink the natives with another con-job. Taib really thinks the natives are stupid.

Anonymous said...

Taib, if you are sincere and honest (which I think you are not)...just give us the titles to our estimated 2.0 million hectare of NCR land in Sarawak. We are smart enough to know what to do best to develop our NCR land. We just need the titles whcih you are NOT WILLING to give us for fear that we become economically independent. Tis what you fera most, that's why you are happy to see us natives remain in pverty for as long as you are alive. BTW We don't need a land Bank that you are proposing. Why? because we have more than enough Banks in town with excellent track record that we can trust, who are already accepting NCR lands as Securities for funding. We have Bank Pertanian, CIMB, Maybank and RHB Bank are doing a good job helping proving us the funding to develop our lands, so long as they have titles! So titles is the KEY! Your Landbank concept is just a another attempt to fool,cheat and control us. We natives are not that stupid lah!!!Come on Taib...we have many we know what's under your sleeve. Your old trick!

Anonymous said...

Land bank does not mean a bank for land. Land bank means a reserve of lands put aside for future use. Like a blood bank. So what Taib is proposing is identify native lands with full knowledge of the native owners and then use it at his whim and fancy! What's the difference with the current practice? Now they just take your land without your knowledge. With this new policy they take your land with your knowledge and permission! And Taib will use Jabu, Masing and Mawan to sell this idea to the native. Same script, same cast, just different movie title.

Anonymous said...

Shareholder only on paper.

Dale said...

I think a joint-venture basis is good for that development. Thanks a lot for sharing.

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Jonas Smith said...

Lovely. How big is this? What's the process of booking here?
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