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July 30, 2010

NCR land campaign fodder for Dayaks

Filed under: NCR Land Issues,Politics Of Development — Pengayau @ 10:07 am


Taken from Free Malaysia Today

KUCHING: It took 47 years for the government to decide to survey native customary rights (NCR) land, issue titles and return the land to the rightful owners. Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak allocated RM20 million to carry out the survey works.

Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud should have made the announcement instead of Najib as land matters come under the purview of the state. So, why did Najib make the announcement? And why did Taib refuse all this while to survey NCR land?

Najib made the decision last week after visiting Long Banga, Baram, an interior seldom visited even by Sarawak state ministers. He must have heard about the Dayaks’ grouses after he took over as prime minister last year. To learn more about their problems, he sent his Sarawakian minister Idris Jala to seek the truth. And based on Jala’s reports, Najib announced the decision.

It not only caught state government leaders by surprise, it also embarrassed them. But Najib does not seem to care; his federal government’s survival depends on solving the problem. To continue to occupy Putrajaya, he must win over the Dayak-majority parliamentary constituencies. There are 23 Dayak majority and Dayak-mixed constituencies.

The decision puts great pressure on the state government to survey the NCR land. It must show support and react immediately.Thus, the state government issued a press statement not only to concur with the prime minister’s announcement but also to say that Taib’s government has approved a new NCR land initiative.

“The initiative has been approved by the government in order to come up with a faster approach to provide security to NCR land and enhance the economic well-being of landowners,” Taib said in a statement.

“NCR land is an issue that is close to the hearts of our people. As such, this joint initiative between the state and the federal governments is to help the people create value to their idle land while at the same time addressing their concerns about the long-term security of their NCR land,” he added.

Up till that point, the state government not only ignored the cries of the Dayaks for their NCR land to be surveyed and given titles, but it also went ahead and grabbed the land and leased them to family members and crony plantation companies.

The government legitimised its actions by amending the Sarawak Land Code several times, and each time it made it very difficult for the natives to claim their customary rights over their ancestral land.

And the most devastating amendment to the Land Code was made in May 2000, especially to Section 5. Section 5 (a) (2) (i) was amended by substituting the word “acquired” wherever it appears in the subsection with the word “created”.

On the surface of it, the amendment looks innocent. But if you analyse it carefully, it is very destructive to the NCR landowners. Prior to the amendment, NCR land can be passed from one generation to the next — from father to son and his children’s children, and so on. The land that has been acquired by any other means by the family always belongs to the family and its generation.Read more here

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