PH will not fund NCR land surveys under Section 6, asserts PKR Sarawak info chief

Desmond Kho

KUCHING, Oct 16: Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Sarawak maintained its firm stand in rejecting surveying of any native land under Section 6 of the Sarawak Land Code (SLC) 1958, claiming that it would convert native land into state land.

Highlighting this, its information chief Desmond Kho added that by surveying the land under Section 6, the natives’ interest in the land will be downgraded from proprietary rights under native customary law to being mere licensees on the land.

“Then any funding for Section 6 survey will directly cause the downgrading of the status of native land in Sarawak. In that event, injustice, hardship and irretrievable damage will be visited on the community,” he highlighted in a press statement today.

Kho was defending Saratok MP Ali Biju’s stance in Parliament recently following a clash with Batang Sadong MP Dato Sri Nancy Shukri when debating on the National Budget 2020.

Nancy had expressed disappointment that the PH government had failed to provide allocation for the perimeter survey of native customary rights (NCR) land in Sarawak.

Ali then sought clarification whether she was referring to funding for Section 6 surveys, and if that was the case, he stated that PH harboured suspicions that Section 6 was a land grabbing scheme; hence PH did not allocate the funds.

Kho noted that it was the state government’s intention to survey native lands in Sarawak under Section 6 of the SLC.

He pointed out that the pertinent parts of Section 6 (3) of the Sarawak Land Code (Cap.81) (“the Land Code”) reads as follows:

“(3) Notwithstanding subsection (2), but without prejudice to subsections (4) and (7) inclusive, any such land shall continue to be State land, and the native community for whose use it was reserved or any member thereof acquiring any rights therein shall hold the same as licensee from the Government, and if, by virtue of the provisions of this section (including the provisions made under subsection (1), any individual native customary rights become established, the issue document of title in respect thereof shall be in the absolute discretion of the Director,” he quoted.

“Provided that the Minister may of his own motion or upon petition review and confirm or amend any exercise of such discretion,” he said.

He also quoted the Court of Appeal in ‘Zaharah Mustapha Raja Sewa and Another v Sagau Batu Bala and 5 Others’, and another Appeal [2018] MYCA 98, referred to the same Section 6(3) and confirmed that any title issued under Section 6 of the Sarawak Land Code (Cap.81) remained state land, whilst the natives were licensees of the state government as per the wordings of the Statute.

“Therefore any land surveyed under Section 6 has the effect of converting the native’s proprietary right under the customary law practices of ‘Pemakai Menoa/Pulau Galau/Temuda/Garis Menoa’ into a mere licence!” he emphasised.

“This is contrary to the native ‘adat’ (customs) and all that the natives hold dear. This is also what our leaders in the state PKR is keen to avoid and rejects.”

PKR and Pakatan Harapan (PH) Sarawak, he added, will object and continue to object to any funding for the purpose of Section 6 perimeter survey in Sarawak. — DayakDaily