Territorial domain now has ‘force of law’; can be used, owned in perpetuity

Uggah (seated centre) at a press conference on the sidelines of the Sarawak Legislative Assembly sitting today. He is, flanked by Henry on the left and Rentap. Standing from left are Lo, Gira, Miro, Ting and John.

KUCHING, July 12: The passing of the Sarawak Land Code (Amendment) Bill, 2018 today finally gives the ‘force of law’ to up to 1,000 hectares of land under the territorial domain. This land can be used and owned (‘tau ngena tau empu’ in Iban) by the natives of Sarawak in perpetuity and without any charges.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said there had been lots of scepticism whether the Bill could or would be tabled during the current State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting.

“With the passing of this Bill, it proves that we have kept our words. So, let’s give this law a chance. I appeal that if there is any doubt, we are open for discussions. There is no reason for us to try to abuse the issue to instigate the people,” he told newsmen on the sidelines of the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting today.

He pointed out that once the Bill was gazetted, the native communities in Sarawak would be able to apply for their respective territorial domain to be alienated and gazetted by the Land and Survey Department (L&S).

Uggah, who is also the Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development, also urged critics to stop a planned protest in Bintulu tomorrow as the issue had been settled amicably with the passing of the Bill.

“They planned to protest against the Bill tomorrow because they thought the Bill will only allow the natives to use the land but can’t own them, which is translated in Iban as ‘tau ngena tang nak tau diempu’. I hope this (planned protest) will be stopped because the law is very clear,” he said.

Meanwhile, Uggah said with the passing of the Bill, it would be easier for the government to continue carrying out the perimeter survey, whereby some 1.3 million hectares of native customary rights (NCR) land had been approved by the L&S.

As of today, some 866,000 hectares had been surveyed and 670,000 hectares had been gazetted.

“So the process of perimeter survey has been ongoing since 2010. After that, the Land and Survey Department will continue with the (issuance of) individual titles under Section 18 of the Sarawak land Code,” he added.

Also present at the press conference were assemblymen Lo Khere Chiang (Batu Kitang), Christopher Gira (Tamin), Miro Simuh (Serembu), Datuk Sebastian Ting (Piasau), John Ilus (Bukit Semunja), Henry Harry Jinep (Tasik Biru) and Rentap Jabu (Layar). — DayakDaily