25 FEBRUARY 2016
I refer to Awang Tengah’s bunkum of a statement ‘NCR Land Perimeter Survey Proof of State Government’s Sincerity’, published on 24 February 2016 in the Borneo Post. Do the 459 areas of 732,080ha surveyed include pemakai menoa and pulau galau? My assumption is that they do not. This is because the government had appealed the decision of the court in TR Sandah, against this very concept, even though it had been affirmed in the High Court and Court of Appeal in about 30 cases throughout Sarawak to date, affirmed by the Federal Court in the Medeli case and was obiter in the Bisi Jinggut case in the judgment of CJSS Tan Sri Richard Malanjum. It is therefore grossly misleading for the minister to say that the gazetting of the said areas ‘was proof that the state government recognised and assisted in the recognition of NCR land in Sarawak’. This is a blatant misuse or twisting of the term ‘NCR land’.
The government’s view of the NCR land that is recognised by the state of Sarawak as confirmed by the Chief Minister Adenan Satem in his DUN winding up speech on 15 May 2014 is that NCR means ONLY temuda/settled/farmed area before 1 January 1958. This is the government that had not only refused to recognise the ruling of the courts but has deprived natives of their rightful landed property by giving thousands of acres of pemakai menoa and pulau galau throughout the state to timber companies and plantations over the past 50 years.
I have said before that if the government really respects and recognises NCR land in accordance with the adat of the people, which has been affirmed by the courts, they should not have appealed to the Federal Court in the case of TR Sandah. The DUN should also not have thrown out my motion and my private member’s bill to amend the Sarawak Land Code to include pemakai menoa and pulau galau as a concept of NCR. In fact, I tabled my private motion at the suggestion of the Chief Minister himself, when my motion was dismissed. He had said, in his capacity as Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office and Minister of Special Functions (as he then was), ‘If the Honourable Member for Ba’ Kelalan wishes to amend the law and feels he has the support of this Dewan, he should present a Private Member’s Bill under his own name, to make the amendment.’ (Hansard 26 November 2013 page 3). Obviously, the Chief Minister and his ministers do not believe in the concept of pemakai menoa and pulau galau.
As for Awang Tengah’s supercilious advice to ‘not make unreasonable claim on land to deprive others of the same rights. What is rightfully yours will be yours definitely’, let me remind the Minister that claims of NCR lands by the natives, as far as I know, are not just empty claims. These claims are in line with the customs of the people, which are based on and supported by evidence. We have won over 10 cases on the concept of pemakai menoa as we had the evidence to support our claims. The minister should not lightly dismiss NCR claims without first examining and investigating the evidence. The implication from his statement is that the natives are claiming huge areas of land, which they do not agree with, because the government and Awang Tengah do not accept the pemakai menoa concept. It is obvious that they only recognize temuda; by not recognizing pemakai menoa and pulau galau, the customary land of the natives is restricted to a small area, which is the temuda. This is what the government and Awang Tengah want, and I believe that this is the reason why the displaced people of Bakun at the Assap Resettlement Scheme were given only 3 acres of land per family in compensation for the loss of their NCR land. The government simply did not want to acknowledge that they deserve many more acres, in accordance with the customs of the people. This means that the government and Awang Tengah do not respect the customs of the natives. How can Awang Tengah say ‘the Chief Minister would ensure that the people’s rights over their land would be championed’ when they are actually denying the people’s rights to their land? The Minister has no qualms about taking extreme liberties with the truth. If the CM was serious about this, he should have withdrawn the TR Sandah appeal.
Issuance of titles and perpetuity without premium are nothing to boast about – it is within the duties of the government. In fact, s 18 titles can be issued any day anytime, but why choose to do it and make publicity of it now when the election is near? Why is it that the government had been advocating for the issuance of ‘perimeter titles’ under s 6 until now? If the government is really sincere, why is it that the people along Trusan Road in Lawas, to this day have not received the titles to their NCR land under s 18, despite having written letters to the Land and Survey Limbang many years ago?
This government and the ministers are now fast and furious with spin, rhetorics and empty words to cover up their contempt for the natives’ adat of pemakai menoa and pulau galau. In contrast, Pakatan Harapan, formerly Pakatan Rakyat has pledged in our manifesto that we will recognize this concept of Pemakai Menoa and Pulau Galau. The rakyat have nothing to lose by voting for PH in the coming elections.