Land Code (Amendment) Bill: Baru, Chong deny “chickening out”

Baru (seated centre) speaking to reporters at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Complex in Petra Jaya this afternoon. Chong is seated on Baru's left.

KUCHING, July 10: Sarawak Pakatan Harapan leaders Baru Bian and Chong Chieng Jen will not be around when Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas tables the controversial Land Code (Amendment) Bill, 2018 in the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting tomorrow.

Baru and Chong will be in Putrajaya for the Federal Cabinet meeting instead.

Chong, who is Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs revealed that he and Baru, who is Minister of Works, had informed DUN that they would be attending the Federal Cabinet meeting tomorrow.

“We are not chickening out. That’s your perception. It is just that we have to take leave on Wednesday because of our ministerial obligations,” Chong told a press conference on the sidelines of the DUN sitting today.

Chong, who is also Kota Sentosa assemblyman and Stampin MP, said it had been the norm of Sarawak DUN to table Bills on the first two days of a sitting.

“It is a norm in our DUN that the Bills will be done (with) in (the) first two days. Wednesday starts with debates of the TYT address. It has been like that all these years, except for the supplementary supply bill, which will take half-a-day on the third day, which is on a Wednesday,” he said.

Chong wondered why the Land Code (Amendment) Bill, 2018 could not be tabled today.

“Why? This is another underhand tactic of the Sarawak government?” he asked.

Meanwhile, Baru opined that the people should know by now who had been championing Native Customary Rights (NCR) land in Sarawak.

“Our track record is very clear. We have been championing (NCR land). In fact, I have tabled a Private Member’s Bill during the late (Pehin Sri) Adenan Satem’s time. The same Bill was rejected not by the Speaker but by the ADUN (State Legislative assemblymen). Let’s make it very clear who has championed NCR land (in Sarawak),” said Baru.

On the Bill inself, Baru lamented that the extent of an area allowed to be given to the native community under the concept of “territorial domain” is limited to 500 hectares only.

“It’s our stand that our NCR land or ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’ (PMPG) cannot be restricted or limited to an area defined by the authority. The extent of the said territorial domain should be in accordance with the area that the natives had continuously occupied since the time of their forefathers to this day.

“We have won cases where their PM and PG extends beyond 10,000 hectares. Limiting the size of PMPG in this matter is unjust, unfair and immorally wrong,” stressed Baru. — DayakDaily