Usufructuary rights means “can use, can own”, says Uggah

Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas

KUCHING, July 12: Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas today took a swipe at two Opposition assemblymen for misinterpreting the meaning of “usufructuary rights” as mentioned in the Land Code (Amendment) Bill, 2018.

He explained to Ali Biju (PKR-Krian) and Chiew Chiu Sing (DAP-Tanjong Batu) that the term was “merely descriptive of the customs and practices that would be legally recognised by the amended provisions to establish ownership rights to a native territorial domain.

“It is merely a process of claiming the area as their territorial domain.”

Tabling the Land Code (Amendment) Bill, 2018 for its third reading at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN), Uggah added that once usufructuary right was established, the territorial domain would then be given a native communal title, which confers a proprietary right on the territorial domain.

This, he said, would give ownership of the native territorial domain to the community. In other words, the natives own the territorial domain, not just the right to use.

In addition, Uggah also took note of the proposed protest in Bintulu, which argued that the term ‘usufructuary’ rights meant ‘Tau ngena, tang enda tau empu’, which are Iban words meaning ‘Can use but cannot own’.

“This is wrong and misinterpretation of facts. ‘Wayang kulit’ and ‘main politik’. Honorable Member for Batu Lintang (See Chee How) can vouch that they are wrong because what we are giving is ‘Tau ngena, tau empu’ (can use, can own),” Uggah assured.

Addressing Ali’s criticism of having the Director of Land and Survey to approve territorial domain claims by natives, Uggah clarified that the Director of Land and Survey, assisted by officers in the department, including the Superintendent, is the administrator of land in Sarawak as provided for under Section 3 of the Land Code.

“There is a proposal for a committee or commission to be formed to assist the Department of Land and Survey in verifying the claims and areas for native territorial domain. We will study this proposal,” he revealed.

He also denied an allegation by Chiew that the Bill would erode the native customary rights (NCR) of the natives over land.

“This is not true. Let me emphasize that native territorial domain under Section 6A is over and above the right of a native or native community to claim NCR under Section 5. Therefore, it is not true that the natives will lose land ownership by this amendment as alleged by the Honourable Member for Tanjung Batu. His assertion reflects his lack of understanding of this amendment,” he stressed.

On Ali and Chiew’s proposal for the government to issue titles for native territorial domain under Section 18 rather than under the new Section 6A, Uggah pointed out that these two sections catered for two different situations.

He explained that Section 18 would provide for the issuance of a title to an individual who has occupied and used any unalienated land in accordance with rights acquired by customary tenure amounting to (individual) ownership of the land for residential and agricultural purposes. Under the proposed new Section 6A, a native communal title is to be issued to a native community in respect of native territorial domain (virgin jungle) in which the native community have exercised and is exercising usufructuary rights. — DayakDaily