By Karen Bong
LAWAS, Sept 29: The Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) state government has reiterated its firm stand in defending the autonomy over land and natural resources in Sarawak.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg emphasised that Sarawak is not a member of the National Land Council but only an observer.
“Land is autonomous as we have our own Land Code. Due to this many issues have surfaced as there were quarters who want to get involved in our land matter. But GPS will defend this,” he assured.
In the committee on Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) set up during the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government under Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Abang Johari pointed out that he had put forward a list to the committee from the very beginning indicating that land was under State List and cannot be negotiated.
“As everyone is aware, we need to look at the provisions under MA63 as the basis for us to get back our rights which had been eroded, either intentionally or unintentionally,” he highlighted at the Land and Survey Department (LSD) Sarawak’s Innovation and Integrity Day 2020 celebration here today.
On the complexity of administration of land matters in Sarawak, Abang Johari stressed on the importance of using technology to manage and protect not only on the surface of land but also underground.
“Sometimes, we can see what is on the surface of land but we don’t know what’s underground, just like humans… we can have a pretty face but we don’t necessarily know their hearts,” he gave a hypothetical example.
Relating this to the current tension at South China Sea as the world’s biggest powers were in a cold war battle over territorial claims, Abang Johari said there could be interest over what’s below the water.
“Similarly on our land, whatever happened down at the South China Sea is relevant to our land which is the Continental Shelves. So we must use high technology in administering land matters in Sarawak,” he added.
Abang Johari thus urged LSD Sarawak to enhance the use of technology in its processes and produce a more efficient system especially on land survey, use of land and development on land, not only on the surface but underground.
He also acknowledged the significant role of LSD Sarawak especially in resolving matters related to land under Native Customary Rights (NCR) status.
“There is a little confusion over NCR, especially after the amendment to Section 6a of the Land Code. There are people who do not really understand why Section 6 and Section 18.
“This became a problem which is quite controversial. But LSD officers have given effective explanations to stakeholders,” he commended.
Abang Johari also congratulated LSD Sarawak for their achievements, notably the one day registration system and in digital innovation.
“I am confident with your spirit and pragmatic approach, we can develop Sarawak using our own way as you have contributed a lot to the strength of the state,” he added.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion and LSD Sarawak director Abdullah Julaihi were present. — DayakDaily