By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Nov 21: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has hit back at critics following mounting speculation that the state government was confiscating native lands surveyed under Section 6.
“For what use? To make graves?” he said, dismissing the allegations.
He reiterated that perimeter survey for native customary rights (NCR) land under Section 6 was to determine the boundary of land and to facilitate the issuance of individual land titles in order to avoid confusion and eliminate overlapping claims of ownership.
“It is not to take (away) the land (from rightful owners), but they (certain quarters) spun the issue. There are no official orders to take away land. If the land is yours, it is yours. Why would the land be taken unless for public use which will be compensated? It is a sin to take people’s land.
“And then they (put a different) spin to the real intention of Section 6, saying it will rob people of their land. For what use? To make graves?,” he said to laughter from forum attendees.
Abang Johari highlighted this when officiating at the closing ceremony of the Land Code (Amendment) 2018 Forum for Southern Zone at a hotel here today.
Section 6, he said, will give native proprietory rights to their ‘Pemakai Menoa’ and ‘Pulau Galau’ (PMPG) or now defined as Native Territorial Domain (NTD) through issuance of Native Communal Title (NCT).
“Thereafter, survey can be done for Section 18. Section 5, 6 and 18 (of the Land Code) are very important to protect and safeguard the rights of native landowners,” he added.
He emphasised that the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government will not ‘lie to win’, as he was reminded of the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem’s advice to ‘jaga Sarawak baik-baik’ (take care of Sarawak properly).
“State land has its own category. If we did not make amendment to our Land Code, our land is finished. Luckily, (Datuk Amar) Douglas Uggah, Tan Sri James Masing and I defended the rights of Bumiputera and native landowners, including (Datuk Seri) Michael Manyin and your elected representatives,” he said.
Earlier, Abang Johari said that in 2016 when the late Adenan was chief minister and prior to the Land Code amendment in 2018, the Federal Court ruled that PMPG has no legal force of law.
As such, he explained the state government then took steps to resolve the problem by way of discussions with all stakeholders including native and Bumiputera community leaders which led to the amendment of the Land Code Ordinance in 2018 that gave legal recognition and force of law to PMPG which was defined as NTD.
Noting the recent Federal Court’s dismissal of two land claimants’s application for a judicial review involving the recognition of NCR land, he emphasised it was fortunate that the amendment has been made to the Sarawak Land Code.
“The amendment was passed in the Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN) and these lands are now legally recognised with force of law despite the court’s ruling because we have our own Ordinance. It is your land.
“We managed the land according to the law such as Section 5 to recognise NCR land, and Section 6 to be surveyed for the issuance of communal titles so there will be no overlapping claims,” he said.
To enhance efforts and get more lands surveyed, Abang Johari added that the state government has recruited 467 new officers to increase the capacity of the number of surveyors in the Land and Survey Department.
“I told them to not just survey for two to three hours a day but if possible survey until night. If overtime, overtime lah so the landowners can have their land,” he said.
Deputy Chief Ministers Uggah and Masing, Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian, Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Manyin, Minister of Utilities Datuk Dr Stephen Rundi and state secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion were among those. — DayakDaily