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KUCHING, Sept 21: The use of the term “usufructuary” in the new Land Code Bill will turn the natives into instant squatters, said Dayak National Congress (DNC) president Paul Raja.
He believed that the newly enacted Land Code Bill (Amendment) 2018 will create more problems instead of solving the pertinent “pemakai menoa” and “pulau galau” (PMPG) issue.
To make matters worse, the natives will be required to get approval from the Land and Survey Department for approval of their PMPG application, he said.
“How can the natives be asked to apply for approval for their PMPG when they are inherited from their ancestors? What will happen if approvals are not given?” Paul questioned.
“Now the problem is coming back to haunt them. Instead of solving the problem they are creating more problem with the new law. The hue and cry of the Dayak and the native community against the amendment, instead of ceasing, is getting louder by the day.
“The native population are unhappy and angry because large areas of their PMPG, which they inherited, will be lost. This loss by the native community will benefit land prospectors who are cronies of those in power,” he said.
Paul deemed the usufructuary term for PMPG as an insult to natives, considering that they have been in Sarawak for generations.
“When approval has to be obtained from the Land and Survey Department, it can no longer be considered as customary rights! This is totally demeaning to the natives,” he said.
Paul challenged both Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and Deputy Speaker Datuk Gerawat Gala for a public debate to clear the air over the new Land Code, which was tabled and passed in the last State Legislative Assembly Sitting.
“The only way for Uggah and Gerawat is to come out and defend their amendment in a public debate for the people to judge. They should be wise enough to feel that if they can no longer carry out the agenda for the community, it’s time to call it a day.
“There is no point to hang on to their position when they cannot do anything for the community. It’s better that they resign from their positions with honour and dignity rather than being discarded by the voters,” he said.
Paul reiterated that Uggah, who is the minister-in-charge of the amendment, has made him the right person to defend the law that he had tabled.
He took swipe at Gerawat for claiming innocence of the affair that led to the Federal Court to declare that PMPG has no force of law.
“Has he forgotten that whole problem was self-inflicted by the Barisan Nasional or now Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government?” Paul said in response to Gerawat’s statement Friday, which stated that the state government amended the Sarawak Land Code as it understood the predicament faced by the natives and wanted to resolve it.
Gerawat said the government could have chosen not to make any amendment and just abide by the decision of the court, which he claimed was perfectly legitimate.
If the Land Code had stayed as it was, it would mean the native community would only have their Native Customary Rights (NCR) land but not their PMPG, otherwise described as Native Territorial Domain (NTD) following the recent amendment.
Paul reminded that PMPG had always been recognised since the colonial era.
“The custom of pemakai menoa has been recorded in government records in Baram, Bintulu-Tatau, Simanggang and also practiced throughout Sarawak,” said Paul.
He believed that the land grabbing problem was created by the Barisan/GPS regime by giving away the native PMPG lands indiscriminately to plantation companies.
“If this GPS/Barisan coalition is so charitable, why do they appeal against the court’s decision, which recognised PMPG? How can they claim victory for the recognition of only 500-1000 hectares when the natives’ PMPG are so much larger and will now be lost by reason of the amendment?” — DayakDaily