Activist: Use Settlement Survey instead of Section 6 for perimeter survey

Peter John Jaban

KUCHING, Nov 22: Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA) Land Rights activist Peter John Jaban is calling for the resurrection of Settlement Survey under Part III and Part V of the Land Code, a system that was suspended internally within the Land and Survey Department in 2000.

“Yesterday, the state government made statements that they are working on behalf of NCR (Native Customary Rights) landowners.

“However, judging by the forum yesterday, they still seem intent on instructing landowners instead of listening to their concerns.

“After a successful and open morning session with John Wayne Sirau from the State Attorney General’s Office, several activists, including myself, were upset that questions and answers from key stakeholders were stifled in the afternoon session with Land and Survey (Department).

“If the government is sincere, then they must listen to various voices, especially those who have huge experience on this issue and who represent communities of landowners in their own capacity as activists,” said Peter John who was formerly a Land and Survey Department staff in a statement today.

In his opinion, Sarawak has been pursuing a single-minded policy of implementing perimeter surveys under Section 6 of the Land Code.

“However, they have so far failed to comfort many landowners and activists who maintain that the Section 6 survey is a quick fix solution that leaves the back door open for the conversion of this land to state land at a later date, despite the current Chief Minister’s (Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg) assertions that the system is safe.

“The state government must understand that many landowners have faced the loss of their ancestral lands under previous administrations and are genuinely and rightfully suspicious of the current insistence on Section 6.

“These concerns could be easily allayed by the provision of an alternative survey system, ideally putting this issue to rest.

“That’s why many activists and landowners are calling for the state government to revive the Settlement Operation Survey under Part III and Part V of the Land Code,” he explained.

Peter John pointed out that the alternative survey was widely in use before 2000 in areas such as Samarahan, Santubong, Tabuan, Miri and Lundu, among many other areas, where he claimed at that time there were no significant issues in surveying land and issuing titles.

“Part III and Part V remain in the Land Code, legally enforceable, however, for some unknown reason, the Land and Survey (Department) took the decision to discontinue its use in 2000,” he added.

On the issue that Settlement Survey may take a long time to process, Peter John’s response was – “Biar lambat asal selamat” (better to be slow as long as it is safe).

“Given the continuing fears over Section 6, activists believe that the landowners should be given a choice over the system of surveying their land – Section 6 or Part V.

“They also maintain that Land and Survey (Department) should do their utmost to speed up the use of the Settlement Survey should landowners opt for this,” he said.

It was also the view of Peter John that there were many experienced settlement officers who were being redirected to other sections or departments.

“We should be using their capacity. There is a huge amount of new technology on offer that can make this process seamless and efficient.

“There is no real reason not to give the people a choice. The issues with land are real and ongoing. The state government cannot simply brush these concerns aside.

“If they want to protect landowners, then they should give them a voice and a choice,” he added.— DayakDaily