The Sarawak PKR is questioning the motive of the state government in not gazetting amendments to the State Land Code that were passed by the state legislature 13 years ago.

“What are the reasons for not gazetting the amendments into law? Why? We want to know the reasons,” Sarawak PKR chairperson Baru Bian said today.

“It has been 13 years since the state assembly passed the Bill and there has been no word since then about the amendments being gazetted,” Bian added.

Hudud forum Baru BianBian (right), who is the assemblyperson for Ba’Kelalan was commenting on calls to amend the Sarawak land laws following a Federal Court ruling barring the sale of native customary rights (NCR) land to anyone outside the communities of the land owners.

The court also ruled that such land could not be sold to non-natives.

Bian described the calls by some Sarawak BN leaders for an amendment to the state land laws as redundant and advised them to seek clarification from the state attorney-general and the state government.

“They should pursue the matter with the state attorney-general and the state government before they open their mouths because the amendments have already been made, but not yet implemented.

“I advise James Masing (the state land development minister), Celestine Ujang (deputy president of the Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry and a former state minister) and Peter Minos (PBB deputy information chief) and others to pursue the matter and to find out why these amendments were never gazetted into law when the Dewan Undangan Negeri had duly passed them years ago,” he said.

In 2000 the State Assembly passed the amendments into the law by way of the Land Code (Amendment) Ordinance 2000.

Bian said that the amendments were referred to in the Bisi Jinggot case before the High Court in Kuching, but were not accepted as the court was informed then that the amendments were yet to be gazetted into law.

Bian to submit motion on Section 2 of Land Code 

“In these circumstances, the calls by the various parties for amendments to the laws are redundant,” he said.

Bian also called for ‘Native Customary Land’ under Section 2 of Sarawak Land Code to be amended to include ‘pemakai menua' (territorial domain) and ‘pulau galau’ (communal forest) as such land had since been affirmed by the court as land created in accordance with the 'adat' or customs of the natives of Sarawak.

“I am planning to submit a motion for such amendment at the next sitting of the state assembly and I look forward to the support of the Dayak members from the BN for the motion, as it will be consistent with their present calls to amend the land laws.

“I am testing the sincerity of people like Masing,” Bian added.

On the High Court decision in the Bisi Jinggot case, Bian said it has generated a lot of debate over the last two weeks as to whether native customary rights (NCR) land can be bought and sold even to those outside the community.

“Such comments and debate on NCR matters are a positive development,” he said, pointing out that the good news of the case could be distinguished in that it clearly stated that the question of sale of NCR land is subject to the adat or custom of the community concerned.

“The evidence on the adat of permitting or prohibiting sale of NCR land must be adduced in the trial of the case. Therefore, the calls for amendments of the laws by those such as James Masing, Celestine Ujang and Peter Minos to be consistent with the adat or customs of the natives are very welcome,” Bian added.