Vital to explain Land Code amendment bill to the people, says native leaders

File picture showing native land owners going on a hunting trip not far from their village.

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KUCHING, July 25: Murum assemblyman Kennedy Chukpai Ugon and Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing today emphasised the importance of explaining clearly to the people the controversial Sarawak Land Code (Amendment) Bill, 2018, which was passed recently.

Chukpai said he would go to the ground to explain in detail the amendment so that the people would have accurate information about the matter.

Masing, who is also Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president, said he had directed his party members to go to the ground to do likewise.

Chukpai described the bill as ‘fair’ to the natives in Sarawak as it finally gave the force of law to native customary right (NCR) land and ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’ (PMPG). ‘Pemakai Menoa’ refers to territorial domain, while ‘pulau galau’ refers to communal forest reserves.

“The passing of the new Bill has made it clear that the additional 1,000 hectares for PMPG is ‘over and above’ the temuda or NCR land that the natives have. And as I have mentioned in my recent debate in the DUN that the natives in certain areas, such as my people in Murum, we want to follow our ‘adat’ on land matters to determine the land size,” Chukai told DayakDaily today.

He asserted that the Sarawak government would compensate the resettlers at Sg Asap, whose NCR land were affected by the Bakun hydroelectric power (HEP) dam.

“During the recent DUN (State Legislative Assembly) sitting, the Sarawak government has assured that it will compensate for the NCR land which was affected by the Bakun HEP. As their ‘wakil rakyat’, I will continue to fight for my people,” he pledged.

Chukpai was responding to a press statement made by Pakatan Harapan (PH) in Hulu Rajang that it rejected the Bill as it was “unjust” to the natives. According to its spokesperson Alexander Lehan, the situation was now “getting from bad to worse” for the natives, especially those in Hulu Rejang.

“Therefore, we reject such amendment, and we demand the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government to respect our ‘adat’ of our respective PMPG,” said Alexander.

Masing, when contacted, said those who opposed the bill, which was tabled by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, did not read it carefully.

“Hence, they are groping in the dark when talking about it. Perhaps, with better understanding of the bill, then they would be less critical and will see its benefits to the Dayak communities.

“I’ve been briefed on the SLC Amendment bill a few times, so I can understand it (SLC Bill) better,” said Masing. — DayakDaily