SCRIPS wants proposed amendments to Land Code be made public

Michael (second right) and Henry (third left) handing over "Deklarasi Tanah Adat Orang Asli Sarawak 2017" to an officer (third right) of Uggah's office at Wisma Bapa Malaysia today (June 22, 2018).

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KUCHING, June 22: Society for Rights of Indigenous Peoples Sarawak (SCRIPS) today urged Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas to make public the proposed amendments to the Sarawak Land Code before tabling them at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly, which is expected to sit sometime next month.

SCRIPS secretary-general Michael Jok and legal advisor Henry Joseph Usan said that was their request after submitting a copy of “Deklarasi Tanah Adat Orang Asli Sarawak 2017” to Uggah, who is also Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development, at the latter’s office in Wisma Bapa Malaysia here today.

“On behalf of the group and on the matter of ‘adat’ (traditional practice) land declaration, we would like to ask that the draft copy of the amendments be given to us.

“We have every right as voters to know what will be amended or what will be deleted. We want our lawyers to see it first before it is voted (put up for vote) in the Sarawak Assembly,” said Michael at a media conference after submitting the declaration.

Michael added that based on the requests of natives from all over the state, the society had been carrying out mapping of land ownership based on the native claimants’ history and ‘adat’.

So far, based on the claims of 54 groups within the Orang Ulu community, SCRIPS has mapped and deduced that 2.8 million hectares of land in Baram belongs to the Orang Ulu community.

He added that all the land claimed by the Orang Ulu community had already been leased out to plantation and logging companies, where some of the land was already under dispute.

In other areas, including Kapit, the total land claimed by 80 native groups, such as the Ibans, the Bidayuhs, the Malays and the Melanaus, is 870,000 hectares.

“We helped to map it out for them based on what they told us, their history and ‘adat’. They came with facts, and they must substantiate (their claims),” said Michael.

Meanwhile, Henry echoed that SCRIPS hoped to have the opportunity to see the proposed amendments to the Sarawak Land Code before tabling in the august House.

Henry Joseph Usan

“We hope to have the opportunity to see the draft, to see if there is any necessity to make (further) amendments and so on. That is the idea, before the whole thing coming to finality,” said Henry.

On the aim of submitting the declaration, Henry said was also to tell “others” that when the land belonged to a certain community, it belonged to that community.

He said “others” referred to the government and others who had no rights to lay claims on the land.

“We demarcated our land by rivers and mountains. We have a system. The natives have a system, not the modern system of using survey and GPS (global positioning system). We have the traditional system,” said Henry. — DayakDaily