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By Nigel Edgar
KUCHING, Nov 9: Assistant Minister of Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datu Len Talif Salleh has questioned Works Minister Baru Bian’s sincerity in championing the rights of Native Customary Rights (NCR) landowners.
He said he was taken aback by Baru’s statement made four days ago that surveying of NCR land was not important.
Len Talif explained that in 1954, the British government passed the Sarawak (Alteration of Boundaries) Order 1954 by the Queen in Council.
“This order is very important, and that is why perimeter survey for NCR land, especially, is very important. Otherwise, anybody can just claim our NCR land,” he said.
Len Talif said Baru downplaying the importance of perimeter survey could just be Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s excuse for not allocating any money for Sarawak to carry out such surveys.
“I want to quote an English daily from 2010, where Baru said that NCR perimeter survey is very important. So, Baru surprised me.
“Being a lawyer, saying this kind of thing; on July 27, 2010, he mentioned, as quoted from The Star, lauding the RM20 million allocated for NCR land perimeter survey.
“I think, by coincidence or not, in 2010 the federal government at the time allocated RM20 million to do perimeter survey, roughly about RM2 million per year. Up to this year, we have utilised about RM16 over million. We already pledged up to RM18 million and the perimeter survey is still ongoing.
“So, we now have a balance of about less than RM2 million for the rest of this year,” he told reporters at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) complex here today.
Len Talif said since the RM4.5 billion from the federal budget for Sarawak’s development fund in 2019 might be used mostly for the completion of the Pan Borneo Highway project, there have not been any details whether there was an allocation for NCR perimeter survey.
“We don’t know. The RM4.5 billion allocated is a lump sum, no specifics. And I suspect it (perimeter survey allocation) might not be there, because we also suspect most of the RM4.5 billion would just be for the Pan Borneo project.
“What was agreed before with the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government last time, the Pan Borneo project is over and above annual allocation. Not part of the annual budget.
“Maybe, what Baru said four days ago was to justify that there would be no allocation for perimeter survey. Or maybe it’s just a coincidence that he’s singing a different tune now,” Len Talif added.
Nonetheless, he hoped that the federal government would take note of the importance of the NCR perimeter survey for the state and reconsider allocating some funds for the effort.
“We hope that the PH government pick it up. Even if it’s an afterthought, never mind, later can, that is still okay with us,” he said.
Len Talif revealed that as of now, there were about 300,000 hectares of NCR land yet to be surveyed, and that is not including a large amount of Native Territorial Domain. — DayakDaily