PKR Sarawak will ensure ancient customs for NCR lands are practiced and protected

Harrison Ngau Laing

By Adrian Lim

KUCHING, Sept 10: Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Sarawak will ensure that natives get their customary lands according to the ancient ‘adat’ or customs recognised and practised by all the natives of Sarawak since the immemorial time if given the mandate by the people to govern the state.

PKR Sarawak’s Land Reform Bureau and Environment head Harrison Ngau Laing in a statement said if the political party and its coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH) Sarawak were mandated by Sarawakians to lead the state government after the coming Sarawak state election, the political party will prioritise and respect the adat, especially garis menoa recognised by the native community since time immemorial.

“PH Sarawak will also make sure the adat will be clearly included in the Adat Code of all natives Iban, Malay, Melanau, Orang Ulu, Bidayuh and other ethnics.

“PH Sarawak coalition will also gazette the communal boundary (garis menoa) of the villages and longhouses and issue a document of title under the village’s or longhouse’s name in line with Section 18 of the Sarawak Land Code Chapter 81,” he said in a statement.

Harrison said PKR Sarawak is concerned that the problems involving the native customary rights (NCR) lands of the natives of Sarawak over their ancestral or customary land has not been resolved by the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) led state government until today.

He claimed that the ancient system of land tenure recognised and practised by the Sarawak natives for centuries which is based on their ‘adat’ or customs referred to by the Iban community as ‘antara’ or ‘garis menoa’ (communal land boundary), ‘pemakai menoa’ (territorial domain) and ‘pulau galau’ (communal forests reserve) have and continued to be wrongfully treated by GPS.

Hence, he said PKR Sarawak disagreed with the said contention of the Sarawak Government, saying that it was clearly misconceived and completely disrespectful of the centuries old ‘adat’ or customs recognised by all the native communities in Sarawak.

Harrison cited an example whereby former Sarawak Majlis Adat Istiadat president Tan Sri Datuk Gerunsin Lembat in his paper presented at a land seminar in Kuching in 1994 explained the Iban adat or custom of “Pemakai Menoa” as an area of land held by a distinct longhouse or village community and includes farms, gardens, fruit groves, cemetery, water and forest within a defined boundary (garis menoa).

He added the Sarawak Legislative Assembly’s Hansard dated December 12 and 13 in 1956 also revealed that the late Paramount Chief of the Kayans and Kenyahs in Baram, Temmengong Oyong Lawai Jau in his speech had also told the Sarawak Legislative Assembly that the Kayans and Kenyahs in Baram all knew the extent or boundary of each kampong’s land.

He believed Oyong’s speech showed that the Kayan and Kenyah communities also recognised and practised the same adat or custom as the Ibans of demarcating the communal land boundary of their customary land over which they or their ancestors before them had acquired or exercised customary rights.

Harrison said PKR Sarawak recognised the fact that the Sarawak Land Code (Chapter 81) in Section 2 (a) has now defined “Native Customary Land” which prohibits Sarawak natives from creating new NCR over state land without a prior written permit under Section 10 from the Superintendent of Lands and Surveys from the said cut-off date.

Therefore, Harrison added that PKR Sarawak wants to restore native land customs by amending the respective code of adat or customs of all the ethnic groups in Sarawak, amending the current definition of “Native Customary Land” in Section 2 (a) of the Sarawak Land Code (Chapter 81) with a new definition, surveying and gazetting the communal land boundary (antara or garis menoa) of the territorial domain (pemakai menoa) which includes the pulau galau therein of all the villages or longhouses of all the native communities in Sarawak established before 1st January 1958 and surveying and issuing document of titles to the individual owners of individual parcels of the lands if given the mandate to rule the state at the upcoming state election. —DayakDaily