CM: Don’t be blinkered by NCR land disputes

Abang Johari speaking at the Land Code (Amendment) Ordinance 2018 Forum in Sibu.

SIBU, Oct 7: The Bumiputera community in Sarawak has been urged not to be excessively obsessed with quarrels over native customary rights (NCR) land as it may ended up splitting the community.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said this today in reference to disputes between landowners who had overlapping claims.

He added, in today’s world, land is not as relevant anymore, and instead, it is all about education.

“Look at Singapore. They don’t have much land but they are so developed. Sarawak has so much land but we are not developed. Why? It is because we are so obsessed with quarrelling over land, that we don’t focus on our children’s education,” he said at the launch of the Land Code (Amendment) Ordinance 2018 Forum for the central region today.

However, to those who have NCR land, Abang Johari said it is definitely an added advantage as owners can develop their land.

He urged these landowners not to convert their titled NCR land to mixed zone land because this type of land should be protected for future generations.

“Many Bumiputera landowners came to us, applying to convert their native land to mix zone status which I rejected because this is not the purpose of us amending the Sarawak Land Code in the first place,” he said.

On the granting of titles for NCR land, Abang Johari explained that as long as the landowner has proof to claim, then the state government will give the land rights accordingly.

“We will continue to protect Bumiputera rights via the rule of law. We must observe and follow the rules, otherwise, anyone can simply claim that the land is theirs. There will be overlapping claims and this has happened before,” Abang Johari explained, adding that approval or rejection of applications will also be based on the Land and Survey Department’s records.

Abang Johari (seated centre) with state leaders and participants of Land Code (Amendment) Ordinance 2018 Forum in Sibu.

On the forum, he believed it will enlighten community leaders and native landowners on matters pertaining to their NCR, including on Section 6 and Section 18 under the Land Code.

The forum will also disseminate information to quash rumours and allegations that the government is abusing Section 6 of the Land Code to rob the people of their land.

“No doubt, there will be some quarters who remain defiant and forever against us in what we do. They accuse us to create negative emotion and so on so that people will start fighting. These are the people who don’t even respect Sarawakians and our tradition (‘adat’) and our local community leaders. What they are doing now is very obvious, to split our people and break the state’s peace and harmony by appointing new community leaders,” he lamented.

Citing an example, Abang Johari said this is happening now in West Malaysia, where the situation is messy and causing divisions.

“Now in West Malaysia, non-Muslims cannot even recite prayers openly.They were given a warning letter for doing so. Just look at how they split the rakyat. On the other hand, we in Sarawak are totally different.

“We don’t have to follow West Malaysia’s style. That is their problem, not ours. Let us stay together, respect each other and protect our state, just as how we have been doing all these years,” Abang Johari urged. — DayakDaily