KUCHING, Dec 16: Native Customary Rights (NCR) land will be the biggest issue and significant factor for Dayak voters in the upcoming polls, said Dayak Think-Tank Group (DTTG).
The founder of DTTG Wellie Henry Majang said the frustrations over the delay to solve NCR issues had prompted the indigenous landowners to join the NCR rally in Kuching last month.
“NCR issues have affected all Dayaks in the state and they would definitely vote for those who fight for NCR in coming polls,” Wellie told DayakDaily, adding that Dayaks need to be smart voters and become game changers.
DTTG had on many occasions urged the state government to immediately resolve the ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’ (PMPG) issue.
They said this is to prevent a repeat of the tragedy which befell land rights activist Bill Kayong who was shot and killed on June 21, 2016 at a traffic light intersection in Miri.
“The murder of Bill Kayong brings a worrying message, especially to the indigenous people. It is understood that Bill was killed because he dared to defend the rights of indigenous people of Sarawak and their lands from being invaded and seized,” said DTTG Miri women’s wing head Christina Kelit.
Prosecutors, she pointed out, had failed to bring the mastermind behind the murder of the former Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Miri branch secretary to justice.
“The High Court’s decision to release three individuals suspected to be involved in Bill’s murder stoked the anger and dissatisfaction of many parties, some of whom mocked the country’s judicial system,” she added.
Christina said it has been made clear that there was nothing the indigenous people of Sarawak could do to stop the oppression of their rights because capitalists are free to oppress and behave like gangsters without any consequences for their actions.
“We have mentioned this (resolving PMPG issue) many times after the death of Bill Kayong but, until now, there is still no solution although a year has passed,” she added.
Meanwhile, DTTG Miri deputy chairman Philip Asry took the PMPG Committee, headed by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, to task for failing to come up with any solution to the issue.
He said the committee was initially viewed by affected landowners as one of the ways to resolve the problem.
“Throughout 2017, Uggah has been giving various reasons concerning the PMPG solution but, until today, the PMPG Committee headed by him has failed to provide any results.
“Moreover, the private bill moved by Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian to amend the Sarawak Land Code during the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting in November this year also failed to get support,” he said.
The state government had formed a task force chaired by Uggah, with members comprising state and federal ministers, politicians, senior civil servants and legal practitioners. The terms of reference of the task force were to consider and propose amicable and practical solutions to resolve the customary land rights issues relating to PMPG.
Uggah had said that the amendment to the Land Code relating to PMPG should be ready for tabling in the Sarawak legislative assembly in May 2018. — DayakDaily