Tuesday, April 30, 2013

‘Ask ministers about their wealth’

Joseph Tawie

April 29, 2013
Limbang candidate Baru Bian claims the key issue with NCR land rights is that the government refuses to recognise the courts' decision.
KUCHING: Sarawakians should demand that senior ministers Awang Tengah Ali Hassan and James Masing declare their personal and their family’s wealth as well as the shares they hold in big companies.
“Ask them ]Awang and Masing] about their personal wealth and shares owned by their families in big companies when these ministers come calling with their empty promises and banging their hollow drums,” said state PKR chief Baru Bian.
Awang is the State Resources Planning Second Minister while Masing is the State Land Development Minister. Both are allegedly “very wealthy” and their millions derived from land resources.
It is common knowledge that family members of both leaders are deeply involved in businesses.
Bian, who is contesting in the Limbang parliamentary constituency, said he was fully aware of Masing’s wife having shares in timber companies operating in Bukit Begunan and Julau.
He said his law firm had over 200 files on cases of land grabs by logging, plantation and construction companies, almost all of them had connections with Barisan Nasional politicians and their families.
“We are suing the companies, and that’s why they are angry with us, because the truth hurts,” he said, pointing out that those involved in taking away native customary rights (NCR) land illegally will be dealt with according to the law.
“These NCR lands should be returned to the rightful owners. When we [Pakatan Rakyat] take over the federal government, we will change the head of MACC [Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission] and the Attorney-General [Abdul Gani Patail] so that immediate investigations can be carried out over land grabs,” said Bian.
He was responding to statements by Awang Tengah and Masing, both of whom had warned that Pakatan Rakyat through its “Malaysian Malaysia” concept would take away NCR land rights belonging to the natives.
“The statement by Awang Tengah that Pakatan will abolish the rights to NCR ownership fills me with disbelief and revulsion.
“That a senior minister would resort to telling lies to win over the people is extremely unbecoming and undignified and certainly reflects poorly on him.
“State Assemblyman for Batu Lintang See Chee How and Kota Sentosa State Assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen had lodged police reports about the seditious nature of Awang Tengah’s statement,” he said.
State not recognising court ruling
Bian also said that it was a baseless accusation to say that natives would lose their special privileges.
“The special privileges of the natives are safeguarded in the Federal Constitution and Pakatan has no intention of abolishing these rights,” he said.
He said that Section 8 of the Land Code is very clear that NCR lands cannot be transferred to non-natives.
“This section had not been amended, and we will not amend it. It will remain intact. What Awang Tengah and Masing said was all nonsense.
“I can forgive them [for their ignorance] because they are not lawyers. They are only politicians and cronies of Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud,” he said.
He also said that it is very well for BN ministers to make promises about resolving NCR land issues by carrying out perimeter surveys, but what is the definition of NCR land?
“The courts have recognised NCR ownership of the people in around 20 cases, but the problem remains that the Sarawak government is showing its contempt of the court rulings and refusing to abide by the courts’ decisions, especially with regard to the definition of NCR land.
“Until today, they [government] refuse to include the ‘pemakai menua’ [territorial domain] and ‘pulau galau’ [communal forests] but restrict its definition to temuda [farming land], in clear disregard of the decisions of the courts,” he said.
Bian, who is also Ba’Kelalan assemblyman, asked why the state government persists in conducting surveys under Section 6 of the Land Code, which only grants a communal reserve status on the surveyed land instead of Section 18 which grants title.
“Do the people know that the government can decide to de-gazette their communal reserve land in which event it becomes state land and not NCR land?” he asked.
Bian reiterated that one of Pakatan’s promises is to set up a Land Commission to investigate NCR land claims and to right the wrongs done to the people by those in authority, including ministers and their families and cronies.
“The people have been hoodwinked for far too long. My contract with the people of Sarawak is to protect what is their birthright, their life and their livelihood.
“Let no one say otherwise,” he added.
~ Free Malaysia Today

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