Wrong to impose 500-hectare limit on native territorial domain, cautions Murum rep

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

KUCHING, July 11: The state government was today urged not to impose a 500-hectare limit on native territorial domain (NTD) as it is not “fair and equitable” to communities in a number of areas in the state.

In raising this concern, Kennedy Chukpai Ugon (GPS-Murum) told the august House that this limit would not be acceptable or reasonable for his constituents and in areas where there are longhouses of more than 100 doors and the areas they have been foraging, hunting and fishing are much larger than 500 hectares.

“Limiting the Native Territorial Domain (NTD) for these bigger settlements with 100 doors (‘pintu’) or more will mean that each household will have only 3-5 hectares each. This is obviously insufficient and not reflective of their current practices and needs,” he said when debating the Sarawak Land Code (Amendment), 2018 Bill here today

Hence, Chukpai argued that the NTD should not be limited to 500 hectares only.

“Let the area of Native Territorial Domain (NTD) be determined according to the customs and the needs of the community concerned on a case-by-case basis. Limiting it to 500 hectares will not be fair and equitable for communities in Hulu Rejang, Kapit, Baleh, Baram, and even Limbang,” he pointed out.

On the amendment to Section 28 of the Land Code, Chukpai opined that the amendment served as added security for NTD and native customary rights (NCR) land.

In fact, he believed the amendment to Section 28 would address the problem posed by the Federal Court decision in the TR Nyutan’s case, where the court ruled against any NCR land proven to exist within an area issued with Provisional Lease (PL).

“In such a case, the NCR owner cannot get their land back but can only claim compensation for their NCR land within the PL area.

“This is due to the doctrine of indefeasibility of title under the Torrens System, which is the basis and foundation of our land law in Sarawak and Malaysia,” he said.

Chukpai added that following the amendment to Section 28, any land alienated under any PL must be surveyed to ensure that NCR and NTD land are excluded before the final lease document of title can be issued.

“In other words, the PL shall not have indefeasibility until and unless a proper survey on the ground has been done and any NCR and NTD must first be excluded during such survey before the final document of title can be issued,” he pointed out.

Currently, PL has indefeasibility and PL holders tend to ignore or do not make any serious attempt to identify and exclude NCR land within their PL area, he noted.

Chukpai (GPS-PRS) asserted that this was the government’s response to the strong sentiments and reactions of the natives to the decision of the Federal Court in the TR Sandah’s case. It is also the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government’s proactive step to amend the Land Code so as to give legal force to the customs of ‘Pemakai Menoa’ and ‘Pulau Galau’ (PMPG). — DayakDaily