Native landowners remain defiant after losing NCR cases

Seen are some of the participants at the Dec 3 meeting and gathering to discuss further courses of action in relation to the native customary rights (NCR) land cases which had been lost in the courts.

PANTU, Dec 5: Some 200 people including community leaders from Kuching, Melikin, Danau Melikin, Tapang Maong, Ensebang Pelaie, Kampung Lebur Gedong, Kampung Bangkong, Sri Aman, Melugu, and Simunjan attended the meeting and gathering hosted by Tuai Rumah Masa Nangkai at Kampung Tekuyong here on Sunday.

The meeting was to discuss further courses of action following defeats by native landowners in native customary rights (NCR) cases in the Federal Court, including the cases involving Tuai Rumah Sandah Machan (Kanowit), Tuai Rumah Nyutan (Kampung Lebor) and Tuai Rumah Masa (Pantu).

“We have fought our case since 2004 until today. We have won in the both the High Court and Court of Appeal but suddenly we lost at the Federal Court when (it ruled) we have no right to our NCR land and we are just allowed to receive compensation. Our land that is lost is our land (which had been issued with) Provisional Lease (PL) to companies and the Barisan Nasional state government.


“We do not want compensation. We want our land back. The proof of NCR rights that won in (their case) both the High Court and Court of Appeal was dismissed in the Federal Court.This is not fair. The BN government has humiliated the natives of Sarawak,” said headman Masa in a press release today.

Jengga Jelli, a representative from Kampung Lebor said. “We were forced to take the compensation but we will not take this compensation and we will not surrender our NCR because it is the heritage from our ancestors (for eight generations). If we give our ‘plate’ to other people, how can we eat? If Tabung Haji sincere enough, they should come to consult with us (villagers) rather than through the middle person. We will not surrender our land. We only allow Tabung Haji to rent our land but everything should be done transparently and properly.”

Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA) Melikin branch chairman Micheal Luang shared about a case in Melikin where they have lost their NCR case in the High Court recently and their experience. The Court of Appeal hearing is scheduled for June 26, 2018. He encouraged everyone to bravely defend their NCR land.

“Since earlier (during the time of) PBDS (Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak), we have protested against Skim Muhibbah and the BN government withdrew. Now the BN government has given the PL to a company without our consent. Those that have PL have rights but us as the landowners lost our rights. This is not fair.”

He urged Dayak NGOs such as Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU), Serakup Indu Dayak Sarawak (SIDS) and others to be be vocal and daring in speaking up for Dayak rights.

Former deputy chief minister Dato Sri Daniel Tajem Miri said: “‘Adat’ is a Dayak practice and Dayak landowners have owned ‘temuda’ for generations. The British government recognised NCR land since 1881 and ‘Adat’ and NCR existed before British colonisation for generations to protect the rights of Dayak. PMPG (‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’) is the place for Dayak to find wood to make houses, hunt wild boar and other animals, and collect wild plants for living.

“Tuai Rumah Masa, Tuai Rumah Nyutan, and Tuai Rumah Sandah want to get back their land. The land that has been taken must be given back to the natives. For example, in the case of the Maori in New Zealand, the native land was given back to natives.

“NCR has no expiry date. The BN government has failed to protect the native rights of Sarawak. Judicial review does not guarantee natives’ rights are protected because we have won both at the High Court and Court of Appeal but suddenly we lost at the Federal Court.”

According to lawyer Dominique Ng Kim Ho who represented the landowners in the Tuai Rumah Masa Nangkai case, their case won in both the High Court and Court of Appeal when both courts recognised ‘pemakai menoa’ (ancestral boundary) and ‘pulau galau’ (native communal forest), but the landowners had lost at the Federal Court. The areas of Aping, Tekuyong, Abok and Pantu were gazetted as native land since 2006. During the Tetangga Akrab sale to Kim Long Pelita, the landowners not only lost their PMPG but also their ‘temuda’ (shifting cultivation land or farming land), ‘pendam’ (graveyard), ‘tembawai’ (old settlement) and others.

He also said the five Malayan judges (in the Federal Court panel) do not know anything about the ‘adat’ (customs) of the indigenous community of Sarawak, and that it is compulsory to have one judge from Sarawak and one judge from Sabah in the said panel as Sarawak is an equal partner with Malaya and Sabah. He also said in terms of the NCR cases faced by the indigenous community, it is not the end of the road and struggle, but the beginning of a new struggle.

Also present at the meeting were Dayak Nation Institute representative Rapelson Richard Hamit, Terabai Menua chairman Gannydi Banie. — DayakDaily