KUCHING: Barisan Nasional’s pledge to gazette native customary rights (NCR) land will not mean much if the state government continues to limit NCR land to temuda (farming land) only.
State PKR chairman Baru Bian said the pledge was flawed because according to the Barisan manifesto, the gazetting would be done in “close consultation” with the respective state governments.
“As long as the present state government and state Attorney-General’s chambers are the same people with the same legal opinions, there is no hope for the natives in Sarawak.
“This is because our definitions of NCR land are poles apart. The state government only recognises temuda as NCR land. It does not recognisepemakai menoa (communal land) and pulau galau (communal forest reserve).
“If they agree with the Federal Court’s decision that NCR land comprisestemuda, pemakai menoa and pulau galau, then we would be talking on the same level. I hope the people will not be taken in by this,” he said yesterday.
On the setting up of special courts to deal with NCR cases, Baru said it was similar to Pakatan Rakyat’s pledge in its manifesto unveiled on Feb 25 to establish a Land Commission which would investigate, resolve disputes, rejuvenate, study and restore the rights of the owners of such land.
“They are talking about special courts while we are talking about a Land Commission, so this is really copycat.”
Barisan has pledged to set up special courts with the same status as High Courts under the present justice system whereby judges would be assisted by assessors chosen from community leaders to deal specifically with NCR issues.
On a promise in the Barisan manifesto to build a Pan-Borneo highway, Baru said it also echoed a similar Pakatan pledge to construct highways across Sabah and Sarawak.
The Pan-Borneo highway proposed in the Barisan manifesto would stretch 2,300km from Sematan in Sarawak to Serudong near Tawau in Sabah.
He also noted that the Barisan manifesto’s theme, “A Promise of Hope”, was similar to Pakatan’s message of giving hope to the people rather than the politics of hatred and division.
“Besides, how can you have a pro-mise of hope when you have been in power for the last 50 years? What hope can you still give to the people?”
Baru also disagreed with the promise to raise the BR1M aid from RM500 to RM1,200 for households over the next five years, saying that this was not the right way to address rising costs of living.
“The issue is to have a sound economic system and to do away with corruption. That’s the foundation we should build upon, not giving handouts. A lot of our money is going elsewhere due to corruption, so tackling it should be the basis, otherwise you’re not dealing with the source of the problem,” he said.
In addition, he said Barisan’s pledge to fight corruption did not ring true as the ruling government had not shown that it was serious about tackling graft.
On safeguarding religious freedom, Baru said the most important thing was to have government policies in place which guaranteed it.
“Assigning jurisdiction over non-Muslim affairs to a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department doesn’t solve anything. The minister will still be subject to the prime minister and is not independent.
“The main issue is the policy of the government which gives full freedom to all religions,” he said.