Saturday, November 1

Dayak-based parties should form NCR land public complaints bureau

When the chief minister Abdul Taib Mahmud introduced several amendments to the Land Code that affected Native Customary Rights (NCR) land in 2000, many Dayak State assemblymen spoke highly of Abdul Taib Mahmud. Some went overboard to heap praises on him.

Roland Sagah, PBB State Assemblyman for Tarat said that Taib was and “is the greatest defender of native land rights”, while the late Dr. Judson Tagal, SPDP State assemblyman for Ba’Kelalan (died in a helicopter crash) said the amendment to the land Code “is the jewel in the crown for the State Barisan Nasional government led by Taib” and would spell a new beginning in the development of native lands and a new era in the life of the natives, all because Taib had the moral and political courage to do it.

Another SPDP leader, Sylvester Entri Muran, State assemblyman for Marudi, said the government under Taib had made a “quantum leap by having foresight” in the formulation of the bill.

Today (eight years after the bill had become law), the amendments had not only become the bane of the NCR land owners’ life, but also their nightmares. Under the law, all lands untitled including NCR lands are State lands and as a result many NCR lands have been seized and declared State lands. Once NCR lands declared State lands, the lands are being leased to big companies for the planting of oil palm, after premiums have been paid.

Up to October 2005, more than 1.2 million hectares of land, the bulk of which are NCR land, have been approved for oil palm plantations. But the Natives who know their rights are challenging the government for taking away their ancestral lands. Near 200 cases of NCR lands have been filed with the court. The cases so far heard have been won by the Natives. This is a very encouraging piece of news.

One of the most damaging amendments to the Land Code is Section 5. Section 5 (a) (2) (i) is amended by substituting the word “acquired” wherever it appears in the subsection with the word “created”.

On the surface of it, the amendment looks very innocent. But if you go deep into and analyse it, it is very destructive to the owners’ customary rights over land. Prior to the amendment, the NCR land can be passed from generation to another generation, i.e. from father to son and his children’s sons, and so on. The land that has been acquired by any other means by the family always belongs to the family and its generations.

NCR land could be acquired through the following methods: through the feeling of virgin jungle and the occupation of land thereby created; by the planting of land with fruit trees; by the occupation or cultivation of land; by the use of land for a burial ground or shrines; by the use of land of any class for rights of way; or any other lawful means.

Emphasis should be given that by substituting the word “acquired” with the word “created” the customary rights over such land could be terminated, as only the “creator” would have the customary rights over such land. And after his death, the land will be reverted to the government if the descendents are unable to provide proof for such a claim.

With the amendment, the land that has been created by their forefathers ended with their deaths and the land will be reverted to what is commonly known as the State land. You can claim the land provided you are able to prove that your great grand parents created the land.
The onus is on you to provide the proofs. Very few, if any NCR land owners can prove that their great grand parents created the land. They can only depend on their Headmen (Penghulus and Tuai Rumahs) to be their witnesses, but then the Headmen have been warned by the government not to simply endorse such land as NCR land. Slowly and surely all the NCR land will be reverted to the government. In 10, 20 or 30 years’ time, the natives especially Ibans will lose their land. They cannot “create” rights now over any new land as this is also against the law formulated since January 1958.

What makes it worse for the Dayaks in particular is that their NCR land is not titled. The Dayaks have been asking the government to survey their lands so that titles can be given to these lands, but the government refuses to do it by giving so may excuses such as there is no money and lack of staff to carry out such surveys. But when the Dayaks see that the government has been issuing land titles to Malays now and then, they feel that they have been unfairly treated.

What are the implications?

The implications are many. But the most important one is that the Dayaks suddenly become illegal squatters as more than 5,000 longhouses have been built on lands that have not been surveyed. Any time the government wants them out from the land, the Dayaks will have no recourse to any law to protect them.

Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) has formed its own NCR land task force as it knows the seriousness of these problems confronting the Dayaks. But that task force is less significant as it means only for PRS. Perhaps, forming some sort of NCR Land Public complaints Bureau after the style of Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) Public Complaints Bureau may be more effective in dealing with NCR land problems. The affected landowners can seek help, advice, guidance, etc and etc. from the bureau that will not only study each and every case, but also act as a bridge between the people and the government.

No doubt SUHAKAM (Human Rights Commission) has been carrying out investigations on abuse of power, infringing on human rights, etc. against the landowners by the implementers of “politics of development”, but do parties like SPDP and PRS that claim to represent the Dayaks dare to form such a bureau and risk being isolated or even condemned by their big brothers in the Barisan Nasional? In other words, are they scared of being bullied?


Anonymous said...

Yes, thats correct, PRS is conducting its own indepth study on this issue.

The committee is headed by Lawyer Wendell Crocker, soil consultant Patrick Sibat,and Henry Luhat, all professionals in their own rights.

they are tasked to further add to the contents of study carried out by Suhakam recently on the same subject.

The finished findings is to be presented by the party to the state government as a cabinet paper.

Good luck.

NEIL said...

The dayak will end up like the aborigines of Australia,the Maoris of New Zealand,the Red Indians of North America,the Orang Asli of Malaya etc.Their rights will be chisel away and they will be left at the mercy of God.See the Penans whose forest are been raped by the timbers companies for ages and nobody ever do anything to stop it.Your cries will be drown in the wind becos your representatives,the very ones who is said to represent you,to look after your interest,are the only one out to destroy your livelihood.
The land is our life and since we join Malaysia,they are hastening the destruction of our forest thus ending our hopes as we depend on the land and forest for food.
Nobody ever have stand up and fought for our rights to live on the land our forefathers have been living for ages.
Foreigners like Bruno Manser came to our help, fighting along side by side ,to ensure that our land and forest remain with us.
But the very people that we elected ,to protect us,to fight for our rights,to ensure that we survive,to perpetuate our race,never stand up for us.But instead they co-operated with their masters to take away our lands and destroy our forest for their own benefit.
So NCR is as good as DEAD.

Anonymous said...

The reference to the amendments of the Sarawak Land Code where it matters to the Dayak NCR land-owners is apt in view of a new political development following calls and supported by man yDayaks, especially Ibans, by a PRS member Beginda Ak Minda on the Chief Minister Taib Mahmud and Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu to stand down from their posts because of their failures to address native land issues.At a function during the weekend, Taib said in so many words that suggest he feels there is no justification for Dayaks to claim so much NCR land rights when he thinks they are not entitled to it. NCR is in the law. It is universally recognised, and he is a lawyer who should know the law. Yet hewants to change the law.
Taib has given out so much NCR land to others. In the end there will be point to carry out any survey because there will be more land to be surveyed. Infinito.Amen

To the Dayaks I say this: You deserve the government you get.

chapchai said...

Recently I have been reading from your blog and that of Sarawak Headhunter's about NCR land issues. This jogged my memory back to a time in the 1960's, during the time of the late Datuk S Kalong Ningkan, when a land bill was drafted but was rumoured to have been sabotaged by certain people with the aid of KL. Can you lay your hand on this draft bill and publish it so that we can see what had been proposed then?

NEIL said...

After pondering for quite sometimes, I feel that what happens today is the direct result of those dayak ,like Jugah who never chart the course to perpetuate our race.All they have done is for their own benefit.Today we have to blame it on ourself becos we never stood up to those who try to suppress us.

Anonymous said...

The "tongkat" continues to be given to "cronies of BN" especially UMNO and PBB (especially Bumiputera Wing).

Not much "tongkat" had been given to 85% of the Ethnic Bumi in Sarawak. Even "food on the table" which belongs to the Dayak in the form of NCR Lands were taken away from most Dayaks. And, the sad thing several Dayak so-called "Leaders" abetting the the commission of the "brutal acts". People like Roland S., Sylvvester E. not to mention the self-proclaimed ... ! The schemer is laughing with glee! Who? You know I know!

Good idea to have NCR Land Public Bureau and to be brought to the attention of National Level. HINDRAF did it and now its in the national agenda.

Anonymous said...

Dr James Masing must preservere and remain patient in the face of so much heat on him, this time coming from within PBB itself many ofwhose leaders are beginning his suspect his loaylty to Taib Mahmud and Alfred Jabu.
Anang takut ke sida. Agi idup, agi ngelaban.

de minimis said...

Broken Shield

Very solid post. I had written about precisely this issue of the Sarawak Land Code amendment that has been so terribly detrimental to the plight of the true NCR owners. Their voices need to be louder. If you're interested my post is entitled, Sarawak NCR: The heavy price of progress.

Anonymous said...

Taib Mahmud's Remarks on NCR

"You see, they (Dayaks) have two millions acres under the native customary rights land just because of shifting cultivation. Apa itu?".

Dayak civil servants, whose families have large areas of NCR land, must have been jolted by Taib's remark of "just because of shifting cultivation".

He implied that the Dayaks would not have acquired the land if not for shifting cultivation.

The acrease? The official figure is 1.6million acres. From where did the 400,000 acres come from?

Among those present were Jabu, Francis Hardin and some Dayak YBs

Anonymous said...

Who heads L & Surveys, Sarawak?
Who heads Education Department, Sarawak?

Just go to their respective portal!

In L & Survey, you see Laping and the rest who? That is why choice state lands in urban areas given to certain people. That is not enough, NCR lands are also alienated to certain people! Lands are close to the hears of Dayaks but they do not have any say in how lands in Sarawak are managed!

In Education Department, who are thr top guns, Dayaks play second fiddle. I know during University days, those are mediocre students and nothing to shout about. Dayaks excel in their studies with 1st Class honors but where are they when they enter civil services?

There should be equitable distribution of wealth and Dayaks MUST be allowed to work in civil services. With that pay-packets they can buy houses, cars and money to send them for titiary education.

Lands are important to Dayaks so that they can start with rubber planting, oil-palm cutivation and now jatroba, vanilla, etc. Now the very goverment we voted and the very MPs and DUNs we supported "turn their back" on us!

So WHAT NOW now?

Anonymous said...

should be 1 party for all dayaks....not 1 multiracial dayak unite dayaks