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KUCHING, Nov 19: The native customary rights (NCR) land issue is not limited to the Dayak but also involves other communities, says PKR deputy youth chief Simon Siah.
The land rights lawyer said Malay communities such as those from Kampung Seniawan, Kampung Nakong and Kampung Mang in Muara Tuang constituency had also unsettled land conflicts. Residents of the kampungs were in court last Friday but failed to settle the case amicably with the private companies involved.
Urging Muara Tuang assemblyman Datuk Idris Buang to do his job properly, Siah said that some of the villagers had actually approached Idris for help since 2011 but to no avail.
“He (Idris) should go on the ground and listen to the plight of his own people rather than sit in the ivory tower and sing the praises of the government of the day that will benefit no one but the egos of some of his leaders,” Siah said in response to Idris, who had reportedly said that those attending the Nov 13 NCR rally were manipulated by certain people and Dayaks are claiming ‘for something under the guise of NCR, whether it is ‘pemakai menoa’ or ‘pulau galau’.’
Idris had also said that the state government was the ‘most rational, most reasonable’ government.
Siah said the NCR rally held on Nov 13, attended by thousands of indigenous landowners, was a peaceful assembly with approval from the police permitted under the law.
Stressing that NCR issues also affect other communities such as the Malay and the Melanau communities, Siah pointed out that three cases have been won on the same concept of ‘pemakai menoa’ or territorial domain for the Kedayan, Jati Mirik and Malay communities up to the Court of Appeal with no further appeal to the Federal Court.
“Claims of NCR are made in accordance with the ‘adat’ of the people and are always subject to proof. To simply say that people are simply claiming land that does not belong to them is an insult to the integrity of the people.
He explained that the courts have recognised the concept of ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’.
“The problem that arose in the Federal Court decision was that the court held, contrary to what had been decided before, that these ‘adat’ and customs have no force of law. That is the whole problem.
“All that is needed is for the law to be amended so that it is made clear that the ‘adat’ of ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’ has the force of law. The extent of claims cannot be defined and must be subject to evidence. It is as simple as that.”
However, he expressed disappointed that there seems to be no political will on the part of the government to amend the law.
Instead of waiting for May 2019 to make the necessary amendments to the Land Code, Siah suggested having an Emergency sitting to propose the amendment and to resolve this once and for all for the benefit of the majority, the natives of Sarawak.
Earlier today, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing had said Malays also have ‘pemakai menoa’, which in general means the places where the native communities earn their livelihood. — DayakDaily