KUCHING, Nov 4: Indigenous Dayak and Malay landowners from Kpg Sungai Limo and Kpg Sempadi in Lundu respectively have successfully had their native customary rights land, that were included in leases to two plantation companies, returned back to them.
“The state government had agreed to accede to the people’s demand (for the returned of the land),” Santubong MP Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar disclosed today.
The land, which Wan Junaidi said totalled “several hundred acres”, were included in the leases the government gave to the two companies in two separate leases in 1999 for coconut plantations.
The companies however did not develop the leased land until last year which was “when the landowners found their land had been encroached”, Wan Junaidi, who is also Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, told reporters in Kuching.
“They were lucky. They should be thankful the Sarawak government had agreed to excise their land from the leased lands.
“They should be holding a thanksgiving. They would have lost their lands if they had gone to court to claim them” he said in reference to the Oct 13 Federal Court decision that upheld the indefeasibility of titles the government had given to leased lands.
The court, in upholding the appeals of the Land Consolidation and Development Authority (LCDA) and state government that Section 132 of the Sarawak Land Code protected the indefeasibility of the lease title even if it is shown that native customary rights had been created over the land they were alienated, ruled the native land owners therefore no longer have a right to their land but they would have to be compensated for their loss.
Wan Junaidi said the returned lands have been declared as the villages’ communal reserves.
On the riverbank erosion in Kpg Bako and Kpg Kemuning in Lundu – both in his Santubong parliamentary constituency – Wan Junaidi said a total of RM6 million had been sought from the emergency fund of the ministry of finance to tackle the problem.
He said RM3 million would be used to stabilise a 200 metre stretch of the river bank at Kpg Bako where the erosion is threatening 13 houses.
While only four houses are threatened in the Kpg Kemuning erosion, Wan Junaidi said stabilising the bank of the Batang Kayan was more challenging because “the river bank is steep due to recent dredging work”.
He also said the cost include ferrying rocks by barges which during this landas season could be fraught with dangers. -DayakDaily