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

November 18, 2011


Filed under: N.34 Krian — Pengayau @ 8:32 am
Debate Speech by Ali Biju N34 Krian, 2nd Sitting 2011
Thank you Tuan Speaker, I’m honored and privileged to have this opportunity to debate the Supply Bill(2012) at the 2nd sitting of this distinguished house. While many issues have been covered by other honorable members, I would like to stress issues pertinent to my constituency Krian and Sarawak in general.
Tuan Speaker,
Rural Transformation
The World Bank in 2010 has confirmed that Sarawak is the second poorest state in Malaysia though Sarawak is rich in natural resources.
The International Fund for Agriculture Development Report 2011 explains that the improper rural road system is a major factor preventing rural smallholders from participating in marketing their agricultural products which is a contributing factor responsible for their poverty.
Based on the statistics of the State Economic Planning Unit, the Director General disclosed that indigenous communities living in Sarawak and Sabah are the poorest communities in Malaysia.
A study by UNDP (United Nations Development Program) from 1976 to 2004 in Sarawak showed that the majority of the hard core poor were from the Iban and Bidayuh communities.
A SUHAKAM Study in 2008 in Sarawak found that 84% of a hundred families that were being studied were living below the Poverty Line Index. According to the 9th Malaysia Plan, the Poverty Line Index for Sarawak isRM830 per month.
According to Dr. Jeniri Amir, if one pays a visit to any rural Iban longhouse, one can see their sad living conditions of dilapidated walls, roof and flooring. He describes that these sections of the community still live hand-to-mouth and put up in houses that are on the verge of collapsing. He added that these people still find it difficult to (i) have proper food, (ii) afford adequate clothing and (iii) bring their family out of the poverty trap.
Based on these socio-economic situations of rural society particularly bumiputra, the proposed budget for Ministry of Rural Development Rm3,464,717is grossly insufficient. Here, in this distinguished house I urge the government to relook into this particular budget and increase it to an optimum level which would reflect the gravity of the actual situation on the ground.
Tuan Speaker,
Delineation of Community Capitals
Rural communities need transformation. A community’s various forms of capital assets need to be delineated for them to become the building blocks for rural community transformation.
Communities have various capitals.
1.    Their natural assets include private and common property right in land, forests, water and so on. Bilik/doors of the longhouse should be given land titles similar to that of a terrace house in the town/ city. NCR land should be delineated under Section 18 of Land Code. Steps taken to improve security, access and transferability of land will increase the value of household assets, generate higher levels of investment and agricultural productivity and facilitate access to credit.
2.    Their human assets which include labour pools comprising workers of varying ages, genders, skills and health in the households and communities.
3.    Their physical assets include machines, tools and structures, stocks of domestic animals and food.
4.    Their financial assets include traditional artifacts, jewelry, insurance, savings and access to credit.
5.    Their institutional assets include legally protected rights and freedom and the extent of their participation in decision making in households, communities and in supra-community level.
6.    Their infrastructure assets include publicly and privately provided transport and communications, access to schools and health centers, storage facilities, potable water and sanitation.
7.    Their cultural, social and political assets are important.
Together, these assets will increase the well-being and empowerment of the rural communities. The State government should enhance the capacity of rural communities to acknowledge and leverage their distinctive local and regional capitals or assets. Only then can the rural communities become strategically ready to take advantage of new opportunities and thereby achieve greater self-determination. Increasing the usability or functionality of assets or capital, is then, a useful way to think about desired outcomes.
Tuan Speaker,
Rural Agro-Business Development
In order to encourage rural entrepreneurs to start agro-business, first and foremost, the government must permit NCR landowners to register their business entities and applying for trade licenses using their NCR land as official addresses.
According to the Sarawak State Planning Unit, agriculture forms 11.8% of Sarawak’s Gross Domestic Product, making it the 4th largest of all sectors. It is common knowledge that the livelihood of the rural people depends upon agriculture.
A report by the World Bank Group, entitled ‘Agriculture For Development’ emphasized that rapid transforming economies must move from the green revolution to focus on new high-value cash crop with fast growing urban incomes and demand for high-value products in cities becoming the drivers of agriculture growth and poverty reduction.
Since the poor are mostly in the agricultural sector, the government should focus on providing the rural population with support and opportunities to enable them to become involved in agro-business. A variety of innovative programs have to be implemented in providing the necessary impetus.
High Value Crops
An increasingly important element in the strategies to reduce poverty is the provision of support for smallholder farmers who are moving from subsistence agriculture to market-oriented high-value commercial agriculture. Research in selecting and introducing high-value crops and low-cost farming systems is very appropriate for small scale farmers.
Currently, rubber and oil palm are golden crops for smallholders. As such, it is hard to comprehend that the Ministry of Modern Agriculture and the Agricultural Department is allocated merely RM88, 418,361.00. I strongly urge the State Government to allocate higher funding.
All agricultural stations also should be re-activated or enlarged throughout the state, including the station at Ng. Budu.
Rubber smallholders should be assisted to enable them to plant high-yielding rubber clones. The State Government should work closely with RISDA to replant old rubber smallholdings in the rural areas with the new high-yielding clones. The Agricultural Department also needs to respond positively to all requests for new planting.
I am enlightened by a newspaper report on Oct. 11, 2011 (Borneo Post), stating that PEMANDU (Performance Management and Delivery Unit) is targeting to plant 200,000 hectares of rubber in Sarawak from next year till 2021, involving replanting and new planting, at an estimated cost of RM1.35bil. This is equivalent to planting 20,000 hectares/year at the cost of RM135mil/year. This is a commendable initiative by the government. However, I hope this is not empty rhetoric as the people in my area are very anxious to be part of this programme.
MPOB should intensify its activities to assist rural smallholders to plant high quality clones of oil palm and set-up more mills to enable them to sell fresh fruit bunches more easily. At the moment, oil palm smallholders in Saratok are having difficulty in selling their FFB. Middlemen buy their FFB at the very low price of RM400 only compared to the mill price which is RM600. I urge the relevant government department to closely monitor the price of smallholders’ FFB.
Apart from MPOB, I would like to know if Agricultural Department has any other plan or programme to assist oil palm smallholders.
Cultivating Innovation         
The State Government should also focus on applying an innovative systems approach in developing operational guidance, tools and investment options for agriculture. More allocation for agricultural research and services is needed. Agricultural competitiveness can be enhanced by
(i)             organizing communities to manage their land and natural resources
(ii)           introducing new crops and technologies to increase production options.
Integrating Agriculture and Rural Community-Driven Development with downstream processing of farm products and encouraging village industries and rural entrepreneurship can provide an additional source of income. This approach gives control over planning decisions and investment resources to community groups. Any rural livelihoods project should promote inclusive growth and address the challenges of reducing rural poverty by supporting representative institutions of the poor in the rural areas.
Establishment of Farmers’ Markets in the Urban Areas to enable farmers to sell products directly instead of through middlemen will enable them to earn better income.
Invest In Young People
The State Government should have the will and courage to invest in young people from the rural areas. It would be good to introduce a course of training and education focusing on topics pertaining to farming and also on subjects related to work attitude and values in order to motivate participants to be better, more productive farmers. IFAD has called for investing in rural youth and helping them to become better and more successful farmers. Current events show that the energy, creativity and the power of young people and also the importance of ensuring that they can see a future for themselves in the societies in which they live. These young people are the next generation of farmers, producers and workers. Give them the skills and confidence they need to run profitable farms or start businesses, and they will become the outstanding citizens and community leaders of tomorrow. Ignore them, and they will have little option but leave their home and families to search for work in the cities, seeking better lives but finding only more misery.
Tuan Speaker,
Again SALCRA announced dividends of RM100.8mil.for the year 2011 to be distributed among landowners. However, I would like to know the breakdown of dividend distribution according to blocks, in particular Krian Ulu, Babang and Awik areas. Landowners also are eager to know the current financial situation of these particular blocks. Some areas of the oil palm estates are neglected due to lack of proper maintenance, clearing and fertilizing. I strongly urge the relevant authority to look into these issues more seriously.
New NCR Initiative Perimeter Survey
Tuan Speaker, I would like to make further comment on this issue. Native landowners are confused by the intention of this new initiative. They are worried about the long term legal implications of perimeter survey. Major concerns are listed below:-
Section 6 (1) of Land Code mentions that any area of State Land may be turned into Native Communal Reserve. However, all of the land surveyed now is NCR land. Does NCR still exist inside Native Communal Reserve? What might happen to the NCR outside perimeter survey? Is it going to be the final survey? What is status of pulau galau and pemakai menoa under this new initiative?
Section 6(3) of Land Code pertaining to Native Communal Reserves clearly states that “any such land shallcontinue to be state land, and the native community for whose use it was reserved or any members thereof acquiring any rights therein shall hold the same as a licensee from the government, ….the issue of any document of title in respect thereof shall be in the absolute discretion of the Director. In plain language, Native Communal Reserve is in actual fact state land.
Section 6(4) states that if the Minister satisfied that any area under Native Communal Reserve is required for public purpose, that area to be resumed by the government and compensation to be paid as confirmed by honorable Minister. However, does the government compensate affected natives for their trees, crop and dwellings? Is it possible to register agro-based business entity using Native Communal Reserve as an official address?
As a result of these confusions, native landowners still prefer their land to remain NCR land as it is now.Perimeter survey does not enhance the value of NCR land. What the native landowners really request for is that their NCR be surveyed directly under section 18 of the Sarawak Land Code, not Section 6. A good example is the big area of NCR land of the Iban communities at Entebu/Selambong/Muton which was excluded from Lots 489 and 480 Block 18 Awik-Krian Land District gazetted as Native Communal(Agriculture) Reserve (Swk. L.N.50 dated 29.3.2011).The government must clarify whether the NCR land outside the Communal Reserve is State Land or NCR Land .
Tuan Speaker,
Community Leader – Tuai Rumah, Pengulu, Pemanca
Traditional Duties of Tuai Rumah.
The Tuai Rumah plays a vital role in maintaining the harmonious relationship among community members and preserving the well-being of the whole longhouse. He looks after the welfare of community, co-ordinates communal activities like gotong-royong, officiates at ceremonies, settles disputes among his subjects etc. The Tuai Rumah is traditionally elected according to native customs or adat based on merit.The main selection criteria for tuai rumah are impartiality, trustworthiness, knowledge in local adat, respect by the community, high integrity, etc. In Iban words,Tuai Rumah shall be “ Baka idung entara mata baka dilah entara nyawa. Nadai niki nibong, nadai niki pinang”. Thus, it is imperative that any Tuai Rumah appointed by the appointing authority must first have been elected by the majority of members of his longhouse through traditional adat and custom.
Holding Political Posts
In a democratic country like Malaysia, there are many political parties or ideologies being spread. It is imperative for community leaders not to be involved in politics either of the ruling party or the opposition. This is inline with Laws of Sarawak Chapter 60 “Community Chiefs and Headmen Ordinance, 2004 Section 8(1)” which clearly states that community leaders, namely Tuai Rumah, Pengulu and Pemanca, are prohibited from holding any post in a political party. Members of a particular longhouse may be of different political persuasion.  Political differences if not handled properly may split a longhouse community. It is sad to see, in many instances, that some Tuai Rumah/Pengulu/Pemanca refuse to work with certain individuals who have dissimilar political ideologies. Thus, I strongly urge all honorable members to refrain using community leaders in politics.
A Tuai Rumah’s responsibilities extend beyond the longhouse. His charges include longhouse members who work and stay in towns throughout Malaysia. Should anything happento them in towns such as marriage, death, dispute, through adat-pekat, theTuai Rumah is still responsible. One bilik/door originally may consist of one family unit or “sepintu” but after one generation, the number of members of that pintu increases as siblings and even grandchildren are added to the family.In view of their heavy responsibilities, the Tuai Rumah should be given higher allowance of RM850 as promised to them by the government, not merely RM450 as currently given. As for the minimum requirement of doors/biliks of a longhouse for the Tuai Rumah to be entitled to the allowance, I agree with the honorable member of Engkilili that it should be 10 doors and not 20 doors as practised now. This is in accordance to Section 67 of Adat Iban 1993 which stated that any longhouse of more than 10 doors is entitled to have recognized tuai rumah.
Longhouse Loan Scheme
Tuan Speaker, the government’s effort to provide soft loans is commendable. However, the cost of construction materials under the scheme is a cause for concern as I stated in my oral question. I personally came across many instances whereby the longhouse loan recipients were talking about high prices. This is definitely not due to transportation as replied by the honorable Minister as the price comparison was done at longhouse price. Sadly, the unfortunate, poor longhouse dwellers accepted it as normal practice since it is loan anyway. Thus, I urge the relevant agencies to consult longhouse loan recipients with regard to building materials procurement since they are the one who eventually will pay the loan. As for loan applications supported by opposition ADUN submitted to the Ministry, I urge they are given fair consideration. Otherwise, there is no logical requirement for supporting letter from local ADUN.
Infrastructure and Basic Amenities
Tuan Speaker, as far as infrastructure and basic amenities are concerned, I do note and acknowledge the progress made on the development of the RES Rural Electrification Scheme, water supply and communication tower in Krian constituency. However, some areas need more attention.
  1. The tar-sealing of the federal Ulu Krian and Ulu Awik Road as announced by the PM during the last state election has not started yet. These gravel or red soil roads are in deplorable condition and dangerous to local road users.
  2. To upgrade the old SESCO Road, Nanga Batang Road, Bajau Road, Engudu-Peligong Road and Ulu Mudong Road.
  3. To construct Ng. Ibus Road for which the earth-breaking ceremony has been held 3 times before elections during the last 10 years. However, the actual work has never started.
  4. The problem with construction of electrical transmission lines to school and many longhouses along Ulu Awik Road due to SALCRA’s refusal to allow cutting of affected oil palm unless compensation is paid. As such, I urge the relevant government departments to cooperate to ensure that poor longhouse dwellers get their precious basic electricity.
  5. To upgrade the Saratok Sports Complex by having more sport facilities. Considering the increased number of youths in the population, a sports complex is necessary for them. Sports activities can help prevent budaya lepak among youths.
  6. To develop Sg Krian Waterfront. Saratok does not have any other local festival. The Krian Regatta is the only time for them to celebrate after a long tedious year of working in their farms. I urge the government to hold this festival annually.
  7. To re-construct immediately the school block of SK Kalaka Central that was recently burnt down.
Before I conclude my speech, I would like to wish all Christians a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Thank you.

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