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September 13, 2010

Another wayang kulit

Paying only lip service to NCR land issue

By Joseph Tawie

KUCHING: Prime Minister Najib Razak’s RM30 million allocation to initiate steps to resolve the native customary rights land issues here may not be enough to save Sarawak Barisan Nasional or Chief Minister Taib Mahmud.

Despite Najib’s pledge that a perimeter survey of the 1.5 million hectares of NCR land in the state will be carried out, natives are not putting much faith in it because there are still several unanswered questions.

For instance, what exactly does Najib mean by “… perimeter survey of NCR land”?

Does he mean the communal land boundary or what the Ibans described as the “antara” or “garis menoa” (communal land boundary) of a longhouse or between the longhouses?

Does it include the longhouse area, their burial ground, tembawai (old longhouse sites), temuda and kebun (farming) areas and the pulau (communal forests) areas as well?

These are just some of the questions plaguing the locals here, said NCR land lawyer Harrison Ngau.

“In fact ,the courts have decided on the extent or boundary of the NCR land of the longhouse and that is also what we have asked (the government) to gazette all along,” he said.

Ngau also said that localities had their own uniqueness.

For the Baram district, for instance, there are two books called “Register of Land Boundaries” kept at the district office at Marudi.

The books recorded, in sketch maps or descriptions, the communal land boundaries between the longhouses in Baram. The records date back during the time of the Brookes and British colonial administrations in Sarawak.

“I have filed in court for a copy of the Registers in one of my cases, but the trial of that case has not started,” Ngau said.

“The Sarawak government argues that the recording of the land boundaries in the Register is only an administrative act, which does not have any legal force nor does it prove that the government has accepted, recognised or granted NCR over the lands within the land boundaries recorded,” he said.

He added that the contention was that the Registers have to be read together with the Secretariat Circular No. 12 of 1939 issued by the then chief secretary to the Rajah which, among others, directed that village councils be established in the villages or longhouses to assist the village head to administer the village or longhouse and to determine or fix, record and report the communal land boundary of the longhouse to the district office.

“In the Suai, Niah and Sibuti areas, there is a map or plan in the Land and Survey Department in Miri called ‘Composite plan showing distribution of native farming land in Suai Niah and Sibuti’, which records the communal land boundaries of the longhouses in the areas. These records were compiled by the district office during the Brookes’ and British administration.

“I have a copy of the map/plan and am using it in my court cases now pending.

“I have also seen similar records of communal land boundaries shown to me by one or two longhouses in Sebauh, Bintulu. The records were obtained from the sub-district office in Sebauh.

“If Najib and the Sarawak government are serious and sincere in surveying and gazetting the perimeter of NCR lands, they should gazette the communal land boundaries based on these records.

“In cases where the communal land boundaries have not been recorded, then they should survey and gazette the communal land boundaries which have existed or have been established between the longhouses.

“This survey should be jointly carried out by the Land and Survey Department and the longhouse residents,” Ngau said.

He said if Najib and the Sarawak government only surveyed and gazetted the perimeter of the temuda areas, then their proposal will not resolve the NCR problem and that would be contrary to what the courts have decided. “It is also not what we wanted or have asked them to do.”

(The temuda areas are based on aerial photographs taken after Jan 1, 1958 and they were based on government legal counsel JC Fong’s interpretation of what is NCR.)Read more here

Read also  RM20 million is only a chicken feed and NCR land campaign fodder for Dayaks

Pengayau comment

Like i always said,the State Government should follow the NCR Land definitions as per Tr Nor Ak Nyawai Case Judgment in 2001 and you will find out the contradiction on the definition of NCR Land by the government and the court judgement.Please read this Tr Nor Ak Nyawai NCR Land Case Judgement 2001

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