‘Major land projects should go through ‘anamiak’, not community leaders’

Michael Jok

KUCHING, Sept 10: The Sarawak government has been advised to deal with all the ‘anamiak’ (villagers) in the longhouses and villages affected by major land development instead of just through a few community leaders, said Society for Rights of Indigenous Peoples of Sarawak (SCRIPS) secretary-general Michael Jok.

According to him, there have been many cases where the villagers were unaware of dealings between their leaders and the government.

“We hope that whenever there is a major land development taking place involving native customary rights (NCR) land, the relevant authorities and agencies must strike the deal through the affected villagers and not merely with the respective village chiefs.

“From our past experiences, many land disputes arose in the past because the deals were done without the knowledge of the ‘anamiak’,” Michael told DayakDaily here today.

In this regards, he blamed those community leaders who had acted without consulting their people.

“They are equally guilty as they failed their people. And the services of this sort of leaders should be terminated by the government as it is considered a criminal breach of trust,” he opined.

On a related development, he hoped the state government would diversify its agriculture activities and not just focus on oil palm plantation.

“We need to diversify our agriculture activities so that we will not be affected by the fluctuation in prices of certain commodities, including palm oil,” he stressed.

Michael also hoped the state government would stop giving provisional leases to private companies for oil palm plantations as it would infringe into NCR land.

He claimed that recently villagers from 20 settlements in Marudi protested against the issuance of some 28,000 hectares of land for oil palm plantation. — DayakDaily