Sarawak seeks return of land from Federal

Dato Sri JC Fong

By Lian Cheng and Peter Sibon

KUCHING, April 12: The Sarawak government wants all the land, which has been alienated for Federal use but are no longer being utilised, to be returned to the state.

State Legal Adviser Dato Sri JC Fong revealed to the DayakDaily today that talks are underway to reclaim the lands, as they rightfully belonged to Sarawak.

“Look at the nurses’ quarters opposite the general hospital (Sarawak General Hospital) along Jalan Tun Openg. It is an empty building in a state of neglect. They don’t want to return it to us and that impacts our financial autonomy because we could have easily sold the land,” he said.

Other pieces of land that Fong insisted must be returned to the state included the former ammunition camp near Saradise, Sibu Lau King Howe Hospital, the army barracks along Jalan Tun Zaidi (next to Chung Hua Primary School No 4) and a big piece of land near Rambungan, called Bandar 2020, which was supposed to be the new Federal Administrative site.

“The federal government failed to return the land used as ammunition camp behind Saradise after they moved the military facilities to Muara Tuang.

“Then they called for tender and invited people to develop that land. But somebody brought it to (former Chief Minister the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem) Tok Nan and he stopped it and refused (to give) permission to them,” he said.

Fong pointed out that initially under Section 75 of the Federal Constitution, this sort of land should be returned to Sarawak.

“Then they make an amendment to Article 84 to remove some of these things,” he said.

Fong also revealed that the Sarawak government had given the list of land that it wanted back from the federal government.

“We have given them a list, to say if the land that is not being used, return to us,” he emphasized.

He revealed that the state has managed to get back the old Bintulu Airport after the new airport was completed.

“The one at Bintulu Airport was done very fast. Later they asked for the title for the new airport. What happened to the old airport, they said still (it is still ) federal government land.

“I said ‘Look, if you are not going to return that land, I am not going to give you the title. You own the old airport, we own the new airport’.

“Only then, they were willing to sign the memorandum of surrender and alienation. They surrendered that land (the old airport) and we gave them title (for the new airport),” he said.

Fong also cited the case in Sabah, where the Sabah government had alienated land for Federal use.

“After five years there was no project, although the land was supposed to be used for a school.  And when Sabah asked the federal government to give back the land, Federal asked Sabah to buy back the land at market value despite the land was given to Federal for premium.”

Thus, the Sarawak government will continue to negotiate to get back all the land as it is the Sarawak Government’s assets, he continued.

“All the things that they are not using, they just have to give back to us. We want our land back. To us, its money. If you keep doing these things, then we will have less and less money,” Fong said. — DayakDaily