Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Baru recommends that Najib oversees additional funding for perimeter survey

Posted on June 12, 2013, Wednesday

KUCHING: State PKR chairman Baru Bian has suggested that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak himself direct the additional RM30 million that was recently announced to be used for perimeter survey of native customary rights (NCR) land in the state.

“If the prime minister is serious about helping native communities of Sarawak, he should direct the funding to be used for NCR surveys under Section 18 (1) of the Sarawak Land Code and individual titles be issued to the land owners concerned,” he told a press conference yesterday.

The additional fund (on top of RM60 million) was announced by Najib in Betong on Sunday for the continuation of the perimeter survey up to 2014, covering up to 180,000 hectares (ha) of NCR land.

“While we welcome moves to provide security of title over NCR lands to native land owners, the questions we have posed for the past few years remained unanswered. The issue of whether the government recognises NCR as encompassing ‘pemakai menoa’ (a territorial domain of a longhouse community where customary right to land resource was created by pioneering ancestors) and ‘pulau galau’ (primary forest reserve) has never been given a straight answer by any minister to-date,” Baru pointed out.

The Ba Kelalan assemblyman also pointed out conflicting statements by state ministers on the issue.

“(Land Development Minister) Tan Sri Dr James Masing in past DUN sitting said that the objective of the NCR land initiative is to demarcate and determine the boundary between NCR and state lands and that once boundary has been determined and perimeter surveyed, the NCR land is gazetted, and with that the extent and ownership of the NCR land are certain.

“(Special Functions Minister) Tan Sri Adenan Satem in the recent DUN sitting commented that after surveying, the government recognises NCR titles by ensuring first communal title, and at a later stage, issuing individual titles under Section 18. What he failed to say is that if the government decides to de-gazette the communal reserve land, it becomes state land.

“That is clearly misleading, as how can the extent be certain if ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’ are excluded and how can ownership be certain if the land becomes state land in the event the communal title is de-gazetted by the government?

“Once a communal land is de-gazetted for public purpose, the land owners will not be compensated for the area acquired as it is not considered as NCR land.”

On Monday, Masing called on the Land and Survey Department to expedite the perimeter survey of NCR lands, highlighting the need for the department to be more aggressive and 
urgent in completing the surveying work and ensure that the 2015 target is achieved.

He feared that the surveying work is being conducted in quite a slow pace in some areas of the state.

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