17 APRIL 2016
I refer to the report in the Borneo Post today, which purports to be a clarification of the position of the perimeter survey carried out by the Land and Survey Department. Not surprisingly, the so-called clarification totally avoids the burning issue that is at the crux of the whole NCR debate, ie the government’s refusal to accept that Pulau Galau and Pemakai Menoa are part and parcel of the natives’ NCR lands, as recognized by the courts in Malaysia. In fact, it is an admission that the government is turning NCR land into native communal reserve under s6, which creates shared ownership by the community, possibly including those who have no NCR rights.
We welcome the fact that some natives are given compensation where surveyed land has been acquired, as is their right. These lands are the temuda lands of the people anyway. However, there are many cases where other natives in similar situations are denied compensation, and many other cases where untitled NCR is acquired without any compensation being paid. To my knowledge, there are over 200 such cases, for example, in Kakus.
The point to be stressed is the fact that the areas which the authorities are willing to survey and issue titles for are confined the temuda lands which were cleared before 1 January 1958. The larger areas making up the pemakai menoa and pulau galau are not included. Besides the fact that the surveyed lands are classified as communal land, the proviso accompanying such perimeter surveys is that any areas outside of the s 6 title granted are classified as state land. This is something that is not made known to the people who gleefully and gratefully receive the communal s 6 titles thinking they are individual longhouse land titles.
We also question the purpose of conducting s 6 perimeter surveys instead of surveying under s 18 and issuing titles straightaway. Why does the government want to conduct s 6 perimeter surveys first? Is this a way for the government to delay and deny the NCR rights of the people of Sarawak? The total area of NCR land if it includes pemakai menoa and pulau galau could easily be more than 3 times the 1.5 million hectares of existing NCR lands as disclosed by Awang Tengah not long ago. The s6 perimeter surveys are merely distractions by the government to cover up the unsavoury truth about their refusal to recognize the whole NCR lands of the people. They have too much to lose.
Whatever statements or clarifications made by the government, their intentions are obvious and crystal clear from their actions in the legal cases pertaining to NCR lands and in their conduct in the State Assembly. The unsavoury truth is that the government refuses to recognize the full native customary rights lands of the people. This is why they appealed to the Federal Court in TR Sandah’s case and this is why they rejected my attempts to have the definition of ‘Native Customary Rights’ in the Land Code amended to include pemakai menoa and pulau galau.
It would be much better for the people to support a Pakatan Government – we have pledged to recognize that the NCR lands of the people include the temuda, pemakai menoa and pulau galau. It is written for all to see in our policy documents, notably our 18-Point roadmap for the upcoming Sarawak elections.
Chairman, PKR Sarawak.