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KUCHING: Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah said the failure to find “one acceptable definition” on what is the exact definition of ‘pemakai menoa’ (territorial domain) and ‘pulau galau’ (communal forest reserve) among the state’s various ethnic tribes is holding up the Pemakai Menoa and Pulau Galau (PMPG) Committee’s final recommendation to the state government to end ownership dispute over the two native customary rights (NCR) land.
Uggah, who chairs the committee, said since members of the committee could not reach a consensus on what the definition should be, the committee would now take it to the people for their views.
“The Bidayuh have their views, the Orang Ulu have their own views and so have the Ibans,” he told reporters at his Gawai open house in Taman BDC Tuesday night.
He said the “consultation” with the public would start at the end of the month and would be held in all divisions in the state.
Uggah said reaching a consensus could “take a bit of time” but is hopeful one could be found before the end of the year.
“The people expect us to have some solution within this year.”
He however warned the resolution would “not make everyone happy”.
“We cannot promise to make everybody happy.”
Native ownership over land they claimed to be ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’ had been called to question after the Federal Court last December ruled that the creation of the two types of land under native custom has no force of law in Sarawak.
The ruling had reportedly seen a spike in disputes over NCR land with increased confrontations with plantation companies that had been given licence to pemakai menoa and pulua galau land.
The confrontations sometimes boiled over into violence, between native landowners who are ignorant of the ruling and timber and plantation companies that had been given concession rights on land the natives had claimed as their NCR land.
In June last year, a prominent land rights activist, Bill Kayong, was shot dead at a traffic light intersection in the oil refining of Lutong, Miri.
Yesterday, three men charged with abetting in the murder of the 43-year-old political secretary to Miri MP Dr Michael Teo, walked free after the Miri High Court found no prima facie case had been established by the prosecution against them.
PKR state chirman Baru Bian said with the ruling, it is therefore imperative that the Sarawak government settle the recognition of pemakai menoa and pulau galau without further delay, “to prevent any other tragedies”.
“The committee headed by DCM (deputy chief minister Datuk Amar) Douglas Uggah to resolve this matter must act now.
“Bill Kayong’s life was worth much more than this,” the Ba Kelalan assemblyman said.
The Sarawak government is widely expected to use the committee’s recommendation to amend the state’s Land Code “to clarify” and give the Dayak natives “the force of law” they needed in their customary claim and ownership of their ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’. – dayakdaily.com