Saturday, February 26, 2011

Minister recycling same answers, says PKR

Sarawak PKR has lambasted State Planing and Resource Minister Awang Tengah Ali Hassan for his comments in a local daily.

KUCHING: A Sarawak minister who accused the opposition of harping on the “old issue of NCR land” is himself recycling the same answers for the past decade and treating the people as if they were ignorant of their rights, said Sarawak PKR information chief See Chee How.

Slamming Second State Planning and Resource Management Minister, Awang Tengah Ali Hassan for his remarks, See said: “It is not an old issue.

“In fact, it is cropping up frequently. Every week we have court judgments against the state government, ordering it to give back the native customary rights (NCR) land to the people.

“For Awang Tengah to say that, he is treating the people as if they are living 10 years behind. He is the one who is recycling and saying that the NCR land is not the issue.”

Awang Tengah’s condescending remarks, which had appeared in the local papers recently, had riled several quarters here.

See said that the judgments against the state government are not an old issue and concurred with his party chief Baru Bian that there was an increasing number of NCR cases waiting to be heard in court.

“Every week, there are new cases. But Awang Tengah still uses the same old comment he used 10 years ago that the NCR land is not an issue.

“He is, in fact, recycling his answer,” he said.

Land grabs

On land grabs, See said this too had seen a sudden increase.

“Land grabs are also not new. For the last few months since last year, it appears that the state government has redoubled its efforts to acquire more land.

“We want to find out why and what are the reasons for these (sudden) fierce efforts.

“Is it something to do with the fact that someone is going to leave at this time that you actually have more land grabs?” he asked.

He said that Awang Tengah can deny, as much as he likes, about land grabs but the reality speaks for itself.

“Look at Sempadi, Sebangan and elsewhere where land grabs are obvious.

“They (government) know about native customary rights are on the land, and yet they still grab the land and give them to their family members and cronies,” he added.

He said that the government should allow the natives to develop their own land for their own financial and commercial benefits.

Not for monkeys

On Awang Tengah’s remarks that the government always paid landowners if their land is taken away for public purposes, See asked: “What public purposes are there when the government grabs NCR land for oil palm plantations and leases them to their family members and cronies?

“If the government is sincere, then it should also compensate the landowners.”

Awang Tengah was also reported to have told native landowners not to be taken in by opposition’s claims that the “state government is robbing natives of their land”.

“People must always remember we do not build roads for monkeys and wild boars…

“We are serious in addressing and solving the NCR land matters. Why would the government want to ‘rampas’ (rob) the land?

“We acquire land for public purposes like development, roads and schools. It is for the benefit of the people,” he added.

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