Recognising “Pulau Galau” and “Pemakai Menoa” should be the top priority in solving native land disputes

File picture showing native land owners going on a hunting trip not far from their village.

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KUCHING: Dayak National Congress (DNC) president Paul Raja said the state government must recognise the legal framework of “Pemakai Menoa” and “Pulau Galau” as its top priority to find comprehensive solutions to land disputes.

“Once the legal framework has been recognised, the disputes over NCR land claims will be reduced or even completely settled,” Paul said.

He said pemakai menoa and pulau galau must be recognised as they are in accordance with the practice and customs of the Dayak community.

Paul, whose is a land rights lawyer, said that disputes between the Dayak community, one hand, and the government and plantation companies, on the other, arise because the government does not give recognition to both definition.

He said land claimed by the Dayaks as “Pemakai Menoa” and “Pulau Galau” are being issued with provisional leases by the government to plantation and forestry companies for development.

He said the disputes then arise when plantation companies encroach into these lands and Paul is calling the government to recognise the legal framework of the two native land definition to stop these encroachments.

“As a lawyer who has been representing the Dayak landowners in court in many cases, I know where the problems are,” he said when asked to comment on the call by a coalition of nine Dayak-based non-governmental organisations to the government to be more proactive in finding comprehensive solutions to calm down the “restless” situation on the ground.

Paul also agreed with the Dayak NGOs for the government to comply with the standard set up under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Under UNDRIP compliance, he said the Dayak landowners must be consulted for any development affecting their lands.

He said prior consent must be obtained first from the landowners before their lands are leased out to plantation companies.

“The Dayaks are hardworking, they are not lazy and they are not anti-development as claimed by certain people in the government.

“But what they want is to benefit from their lands,” he said.

He said the Dayaks want active participation, not bystanders, in the development of their land.

Paul said he has been able to bring up the Dayak landowners and the investors together to develop NCR land in a number of instances.

“Instead of going to court to settle disputes over land claims, I have prepared many agreements for both parties to jointly develop NCR lands. In this way, both parties benefit from the land development,” he said. –