Sarawak PKR has urged incoming chief minister of Sarawak Adenan Satem to reverse the position of Abdul Taib Mahmud’s government.
“With the authority in his hands, we hope that he is brave enough to reverse or change the (Taib) government’s position by recognising ‘pemakai menua’ (communal land) and ‘pulau galau’ (reserved forest) as Native Customary Land (NCR) land,” said its chief Baru Bian.
“Adenan should also amend the definition of ‘native customary land’ appearing in Section 2 of the Sarawak Land Code to include ‘pemakai menua’ and ‘pulau galau’ to ensure that no more argument should be wasted on this issue any more,” said Baru.
Baru said that as chief minister, Adenan (right) should also ask the state Attorney-General’s Chambers to stop arguing that NCR land is confined to temuda (farm land) only as the three courts in the country - the High Court, Court of Appeal and the Federal Court - have decided that NCR lands also include ‘pulau galau’ and ‘pemakai menua’.
“The courts have rejected that argument, so don’t argue along that line and waste the courts’ time and public money,” said Baru, who is a lawyer representing native landowners in their suits against the government.
“We have won seven cases in the Court of Appeal, the latest victory was on Feb 10, 2014,” he said.
About 400 other cases are waiting to be heard in the court.
Baru (right) recalled that during the last sitting of the state legislative assembly, the government through Special Functions Minister Adenan recognised only temuda as NCR land.
“We have submitted all the cases that the government lost to Adenan... the decisions of the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court.
“We were hoping that he would make an official recognition of ‘pemakai menua’ and ‘pulau galau’. But unfortunately, he announced and made an official stand of the state government that it recognised only temuda as NCR land.
“Now that he will be the chief minister and with the authority in his hands, we hope that he would be brave enough to reverse the position of the Taib government and recognise pemakai menua and pulau galau as NCR land,” he said.
“I hope his leadership will be receptive and active in responding to what we have raised,” he said.
Latest NCR land victory
On the latest NCR land victory, Baru who is the Ba’Kelalan assemblyperson, said that the Court of Appeal has confirmed once again that native customary right exists, this time in area claimed by the residents of Rumah Ensika, Rumah Entanggor and Rumah Tungkah Dayak, Sebangan, Simunjan as their ‘pemakai menua’ and ‘pulau galau’.
The decision was made by a panel of three judges on an appeal by the director of forests and the state government of Sarawak against the judgment of High Court Judge Rhodzariah Bujang handed down on March 29, 2011 in Kuching.
The Court of Appeal confirmed the rights of plaintiffs in the High Court that their rights contained in the proposed Stika Communal Forests and Bukit Bediri Forests Reserve are both within their ‘pemakai menua’ and ‘pulau galau’ by virtue of the admission made by the state government in the document proposing the formal gazetting of the Stika Communal Forests and the Bukit Bediri Reserve Gazette Notification itself made in 1952.
These rights are as follows:
1. To take timber, poles, fuel, rattan and other climbers, bamboo, dammar, fruit, honey, beeswax a and ataps for their domestic use and for boat-building but not for sale or barter, provided that the quality of, and the place and manner of collection of such forest produce shall be subject to the control of the Conservator of Forests; and
2. To hunt game and catch fish provided the exercise of this right shall be subject to the provisions of the laws of Sarawak relating to hunting and fishing.
Baru said that one aspect of the facts of this case is that the rights are associated with and exercised by the natives of Sarawak within ‘pemakai menua’ and ‘pulau galau’ as stated above, had been officially admitted by the predecessors of the present state government of Sarawak since the time of the White Rajah and the British Administration.
“The natives’ rights associated with pemakai menua and pulau galau have always been recognised.
“It is time that the state government of Sarawak should consider seriously our proposal to amend the definition of ‘native customary land’ appearing in section 2 of the Sarawak Land Code to include ‘pemakai menua’ and ‘pulau galau’.
“This is to ensure that no more argument should be wasted on this issue any more,” he added.