PMPG committee to discuss recent Federal Court ruling on NCR

Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas

KUCHING, Oct 19: The recent Federal Court ruling that landowners cannot reclaimed their native customary rights (NCR) land which was under provisional lease after it has been converted into lease-of-state land has caused disgruntlement among the Dayaks in the state.

Acknowledging this as a sensitive issue, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the Pemakai Menoa and Pulau Galau (PMPG) Committee will meet next week to discuss on the matter.

“The committee had its first meeting on this issue a few days ago and they have presented the facts of the case to me. We will study the matter and meet again sometime next week,” Uggah said at the International Biomass Conference 2017 (IBCM) today.

Pressed by the media for a concrete answer if the meeting will include proposed amendments to the Sarawak Land Code, Uggah said they will consider all the relevant issues related to NCR.

“Please let the committee address the issues holistically. Just wait for the announcement,” he said, before he walked off.

Uggah was asked to comment on the case involving headman Tuai Rumah Nyutan Jami, Ganga Guma and Langga Kama representing 183 villagers who had lost their NCR claim against Land Custody and Development Authority (LCDA), Nirwana Muhibbah Sdn Bhd and the state government.

“The effect of this conversion is that the disputed lands are no longer provisional leases but a lease proper and are entitled to the protection of Section 132 of the Sarawak Land Code, which title stands good against the whole world,” Chief Justice Tun Md Raus Shariff said his written judgment.

The board and Nirwana are the registered co-proprietors of Lot 2 Block 6, Lot 166 Block 5 and Lot 7 Block 3, all of Melikin Land District, under the provisional leases issued by the state government that were later converted to Lease of state land.

This decision overrules the previous High Court and Court of Appeal rulings in favour of the native owners.

Lawyer See Chee How, who stood in for lawyer Baru Bian representing the landowners at the delivery of judgment, said the apex court’s decision will affect over 100 pending cases where NCR lands were converted to Lease of State Land and alienated to oil palm plantations.

He said what is needed now is for the state government to immediately amend the Land Code before more natives lose their lands to plantation companies.

Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak Baru (PBDSB) Youth chief Rapelson Richard Hamit urged the state government to reinstate the provision of Section 5 (2) (f) of the Sarawak Land Code Chapter 81 to resolve matters relating to Native Customary Rights (NCR) claims in the coming state assembly sitting.

It was said the reinstatement of this particular provision is to solve the complication over ‘pemakai menoa’ or territorial domain and ‘pulau galau’ or communal forest reserve faced by the natives of Sarawak in establishing their NCR claims.

Native customary rights are established in accordance with the provision of Section 5 (2) (f). It states rights can be established by “any other lawful method”.

Section 5 (2) (f) of the Sarawak Land Code was deleted 17 years ago in 2000. — DayakDaily