KUCHING, Oct 2: The gathering over native customary rights (NCR) land issues on Nov 13 will start at 9am and continue until 2pm where 12 paramount chiefs representing different indigenous groups will present a memorandum to Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.
One of the co-ordinators of the Nov 13 Rally, Panglima Peter John Jaban said the communities affected by land issues have to take to the streets to state their cases because there is no sign that the state government will change its land policy.
In response to Uggah’s call to remain patient and calm, Peter John said if the affected communities remained patient, land issues will remain unsolved.
“The Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah is asking us to be patient and stating that street protests will never solve this problem. However, we have been patient and the problems remain unsolved.
“The NCR cases have been ongoing for over 20 years and there has been no sign from the state government that they are changing their policies in favour of the community landowners, either rural or urban.
“Instead, they continue to appeal all the way up to the Federal Court, losing consistently in the lower courts until last year’s landmark ruling against the communities in the Tuai Rumah Sandah case under a panel of judges with no experience in NCR issues,” said Peter John in press statement today.
He said instead of less land cases, there are more coming where the public witness natives losing their land to the state government and palm oil companies.
“Only now are we seeing the culmination of this policy with 14 cases lost by the rural communities in a two-week period earlier this year.
“One palm oil giant in Melikin, who won the case as co-defendant with the state government in the wake of the Tuai Rumah Sandah ruling, is now even suing a poor kampung resident for RM397,625!
“They have been given his land and now they want to take the tiny amount he has left and drive his family into bankruptcy. This cannot be the Sarawak that we want to live in,” said Peter John.
He said the gathering on Nov 13 would be Sarawakians’ democratic right under the Federal Constitution, as recognised by the police, to show the state government Sarawakians’ feelings on land issues in Sarawak.
“The issues of NCR and the policies surrounding land resource development are driving massive rural to urban migration as the rural people are unable to make ends meet with the loss of their ancestral lands.
“They are pouring into the urban centres, putting resources here under great strain. On top of this, playing fast and loose with land rights even has direct impact in the urban centres where Section 47 is used to seize land for commercial or high-end residential development instead of for public purposes,” he said. — DayakDaily