Section 18 land titles increase risk of landless natives — Masing

Masing (seated third right) poses for a group photo with Sungai Majau land owners in Baleh recently.

KUCHING, Oct 26: Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Jemut Masing is worried that native customary rights (NCR) land owners would sell their land and in due time, render themselves landless.

Masing, who is also the Baleh assemblyman, warned that while Section 18 under the State Land Code gives more liberty to native customary rights (NCR) land owners, land owners should not fall for the temptation of quick money but instead develop their land.

“Under Section 18 (of the State land Code) it can happen. Individual land owners who have land titles with Section 18, can sell their land to any buyer. It’s a case of willing sellers and willing buyers.

“(Possessing a) Section 18 land title is like giving cash into the hands NCR land owners. The danger of selling is there. There is a great danger, therefore, that native communities may become landless in the end due to poverty and other needs for cash.

“Personally, I would prefer NCR land to be surveyed under Section 6 only, until we teach them the skills to make their land productive,” said Masing after presenting land titles to the residents of Sungai Majau, Baleh recently, according to a press statement.

On a related issue, Masing revealed he would be most happy if the Land and Survey Department could just process land titles under Section 6 of the Land Code for his constituency.

“It will protect NCR and pemakai menoa (territorial domain) from encroachment by outsiders, while at the same time allow individual NCR landowners to cultivate their plots.

“In this way there is no danger of land sale within Section 6. For sale under Section 6 to happen, all owners within that community must agree to sell. This is almost impossible. Thus, NCR landowners will be in no danger of losing their land in time to come,” he added.

Meanwhile, Masing commended the Land and Survey Department for its ability to complete surveying 479 ha of NCR land under Section 18 within two years.

“Recently, the Land and Survey Department granted 479 ha of NCR land under Section 18 after completing the survey under Section 6 to NCR land owners in Sungai Majau, Baleh.

“This is a pilot project to prove to the other native communities that there is nothing to fear from the alleged land grab by the government,” he disclosed.

Masing (second right) presents a land title to a resident of Sungai Majau, Baleh recently.

Masing added that despite the difficult terrain, the Land and Survey Department did complete their task of moving titles from Section 6 to Section 18 in merely two years and it was a job well done.

“While witnessing NCR landowners receiving their titles in heartland of my ‘kawasan’, I was almost brought to tears.

“Never in my wildest dreams (I thought) I would see Section 18 could be processed in the middle of the jungle in record time and my people receiving land titles under Section 18,” added Masing.

Sg Majau is about 100km from Kapit town, in the interior of the Baleh constituency. — DayakDaily