"Mangkang Menua,Mangkang Dunya,Ngetan Ke Bansa!!"

September 21, 2010

Survey Of NCR Lands – Political Gimmick Versus Legal Reality

By Paul Raja
Najib had promised to allocate RM20 million as initially grant to survey Native Customary Rights lands all over Sarawak.

Najib’s promise of RM20 million grant for survey of NCR Land cause so much hype among the Natives of Sarawak. Why not, they have been pestering the Sarawak BN government for so long but to their great disappointment.

Now Najib comes to their rescue and become their hero. But is it for real?? Of course on the BN side of the political divide they argue that it is an ensample of BN sincerity, ability and integrity. But then we must remember, they have been telling us that for the past 47 years as long as Malaysia had been around.

I for one, do not really believe on BN propaganda anymore. Nevertheless, laying politics aside, let us examine it objectively.

Legal history

During the early rule of the Brooke’s Rajah which began in 1841, the land law in Sarawak was merely left to Native customary land tenure. That is, the native system of land law based on the custom of each tribe. As time passes by, the Rajah began to slowly issue general orders which regulates the life of his subject and at the same time affecting lands. It was only in the 1900s that laws regarding land began to be properly promulgated.

Nevertheless, those early land laws did not interfere much with the native customary land tenure. There are only a few instances where land statutes affect the native customary land tenure. But these laws had never ever extinguished native customary land tenure.

State Secretariat Circular No. 12/ 1939
In 1939, the State Secretary issued a circular now known as Secretariat Circular No.12/1939. The opening statement to the Circular states: “1. The Land Orders recognise native customary rights to land,…..”

This Circular is an important window on what was the position of the Rajah’s Government stand on Native customary land Tenure. There are a few significant features of the Circular.

Native Communal Reserve;
Individual Native Customary Rights lands;
Native Communal Forests;
Creation & eventual survey of Communal Native Customary rights Lands;
Issuing of title to Individual Native Customary Rights Land through a process called Settlement process.

These are legal tools that available to protect NCR lands with eventual issue of title as the ultimate objective.

The Land Code Cap. 81
There are few provisions under the land Code pertaining to NCR lands. Section 2 Defines Native customary rights as to mean communal or otherwise. In the light of the Native customs, “otherwise” would always refer to individual rights of the natives. These individual rights would normally be known as temuda, i.e. a previously cultivated land. Section 5 This section provides for the creation of NCR lands after 1958.Read more here

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