“They thought they saw an elephant … so, takut lah”

Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas

KUCHING, July 9: Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas has urged Sarawakians to give him the chance to table the Land Code (Amendment) Bill, 2018, which he assured would solve the long-outstanding issues surrounding ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’ (PMPG).

He explained that the Bill would give the ‘force of law’ to PMPG.

“The problem is that (currently) the territorial domain in Iban is PMPG has been declared by court as a custom and it has no force of law. So, our task is to resolve that issue,” Uggah told reporters on the sidelines of the State Legislative Assembly Sitting here today.

Uggah, who is also Minister of Modernization of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development, also assured the natives in Sarawak that the amendment bill would be all encompassing and inclusive for all native communities, including the Ibans, Bidayuhs, Orang Ulus, Malays and Melanaus.

“Our chief minister is very conscious of this issue, and he has directed our committee to solve the issue,” he revealed.

When asked whether the Bill would be scrapped as demanded by certain non-governmental organisations (NGOs), Uggah asserted that the Bill was in the Order Paper for Wednesday’s sitting.

“How to solve the problem (if we don’t table the bill)? So, you wait for me to table the Bill this Wednesday,” he said.

Besides Dayak NGOs, the Malay/Melanau non-governmental organisation (NGO) — Badan Hak Adat Melayu Sarawak (Baham) — had also wanted the bill to be postponed as it claimed it was not part of the working committee that was entrusted to amend the Land Code.

However, Uggah reiterated that Malay/Melanaus ministers were in fact part of the working committee that drafted the amendment.

“(But) the most important thing is that the government is listening to the people, and we are coming up with the bill to solve the problem.

“And there is (high level of) anxiety because there are a lot of people who are politicising the issue,” he said.

Meanwhile, Uggah said the government side was all set and ready to face off with the opposition during the tabling of the bill on Wednesday, which the opposition had said would be a ‘fiery affair’.

“They (the opposition) thought they saw an elephant, but they are not sure exactly which one we are tabling, so, dia ‘takut lah’ (afraid),” he added. — DayakDaily