Friday, February 26

Nansian and Co have built a bridge to PRS!

Show of unity...The "SPDP Group of 5" at a press conference chaired by Masing at PRS headquarters on 24 Feb

KUCHING – As the year of the tiger starts to unfold with uncertainty, so is the relationship between two rural based parties, Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) and Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS). The relationship is not only getting jittery but also becoming wider and wider apart.

The reason: five SPDP lawmakers unhappy with their president over a number of issues including not keeping his promise of maintaining a status quo after the party’s triennial general assembly are anxious to “jump ship” to PRS under the pretext of “merger”.

During the party’s supreme council meeting last month, the five – State Assemblyman for Tasik Biru Peter Nansian, State Assemblyman for Marudi Sylvester Enteri, State Assemblyman for Batu Danau Paulus Gumbang, State Assemblywoman for Bekenu Rosey Yunus and MP for Mas Gading Dr. Tiki Lafe and three Supreme Council members namely George Garai, Peter Gani and Eda Egar walked out of the meeting when president William Mawan announced Nelson Balang Rining as a replacement for Enteri.

Initially Enteri was the leader and he gave reasons why they walked out, and one of them was that they were unhappy with the president who failed to keep his promise of keeping Enteri as secretary general. They met Prime Minister Najib and Chief Minister Taib Mahmud why they wanted to abandon SPDP and join PRS as temporary “political parkers” until the next State election.

After some time it was suggested that Peter Nansian should take over, firstly because he was a senior vice president and secondly they did not want the public to have the perception that Enteri was a “cry baby” or a sour grape if he were to continue to lead. But when Nansian took over as the leader of the renegades, they changed their intention to be parked in PRS to that of merger. This, they believed, would justify their jumping ship even though “merger” has already dead years ago.

On 24 February at a Press conference, when PRS president James Masing announced the so-called formation of merger committees of both parties, Nansian who was present again explained the justification of them reviving the merger proposal and claimed that the party president William Mawan and his deputy, Peter Nyarok of being controlled by someone so much so that they are unable to make decisions for the party including the proposed merger with Parti Rakyat Sarawak.

“We cannot move if we are being controlled by someone,” he said.

“The merger proposal has been there, five years already and nothing has moved as our president and his deputy have to refer to someone before making a decision,” he said at the joint press conference.

“We have to do it (merger) now and we are in fact doing a favour for the party and the members since they cannot do it,” said Nansian, who is also member of the SPDP merger committee.

Nyarok is the chairman of the committee. The other member is Sylvester Enteri.

“We must have the courage to do the things for the people and the country and that is why we have to start the ball rolling, because in the merger we work together in a bigger body in order to serve the rakyat better.

“We believe that what we are doing is the best and only time will tell,”
he said, adding that they were serious about it and had actually discussed a roadmap as to what to do.

Asked to name the “someone” who controlled the party, Nansian said: “You know whom I refer to”.

Earlier Masing introduced members of the “group of five” to the press at PRS headquarters. Except for Dr. Tiki Lafe, MP for Mas Gading, the others present were Nansian, Enteri, Paulus Gumbang, state Assemblyman for Batu Danau and Rosey Yunus, state Assemblywoman for Bekenu.

Rosey flew all the way from Miri just to attend the Press conference.

The “group of five” and three other members of SPDP supreme council have been in the limelight after they walked out from a SPDP council meeting last month due to major disagreements with the party president.

They have told the Press that they would never come back to SPDP and are seeking a “merger” with PRS in order to remain in the Barisan Nasional.

Commenting on their move, Masing said that PRS was very happy to welcome Nansian and his group to discuss the proposed merger between SPDP and PRS.

“This Press conference is to formally reply to Nansian’s request for merger with us. We are confident that we will be able to talk to Nansian and his group and I believe they are very serious about it.

“The merger must be genuine and must be in the spirit of cooperation; it must be inclusive, meaning to say that others can also come and join the merger.

“It is very urgent now and we cannot afford to waste time any longer especially in view of the coming election. We have to strengthen the rural-based constituencies,”
he said, pointing out that the rural-based constituencies are the “battle grounds” for the coming election.

“Whoever controls the rural areas be it BN or PRM that coalition will control the state,” he said.

Asked whether Johnichal Rayong, State Assemblyman for Engkilili and Larry Sng, State Assemblyman for Pelagus, who are both partyless be invited to join the merger, Masing said that Larry could not be invited as he has been sacked from the party.

He said Rayong also could not come in due to technical reasons. Masing did not explain.

In the meantime, SPDP will hold its supreme council meeting this Sunday (28 Feb) at its headquarters, Badruddin Road, Kuching. Top of its agenda is expected to be the “group of five elected representatives” and three other members of the supreme council who have defected to PRS through what they called “merger”.

Will the eight attend the supreme council meeting?

Nansian on behalf of the rest said: “We will cross the bridge when we come to it.”

Of course, they cannot cross the bridge, after all they have already burnt it, and what I understand is that they are going to cross another bridge to a supreme council meeting of PRS in Kapit this Saturday, 27 Feb 2010, where and when their membership will be deliberated (and accepted). - The Broken Shield

Thursday, February 25

Native Land owners have the last laugh

Pic taken from
The State government has to spend colossal amount of money unnecessarily on court cases and land compensations to be paid to native land owners who have sued the government for illegally taking away their land and leasing them to companies for the planting of trees or oil palm.

Such court costs and compensations for a land case may run to one million ringgit or more as they have to pay for damages to the land, the destruction of fruit trees and cash crops, the demolishment of their houses and loss of incomes. Imagine the amount of money the government has to pay for the 20 cases that the natives have so far won. The amount could be over RM20 million.

Of course the companies which were given the provisional leases have also come up with compensation money.

And there are 203 cases pending in the Court.

The latest victory (on 23 February 2010) involved land owner Agi Anak Bungkong and 196 Iban families of Selezu, Setulai and Sepadok in the Sebauh District, Bintulu when they successfully won their case against the State Government and company which had applied for stay of execution against a High Court decision on 21 January 2010.

The land owners from 15 longhouses were represented by Messrs Baru Bian Advocates and Solicitors, Kuching, while J.C. Fong represented the government.

The land owners had sued the government and company over native customary rights land in and around their longhouses in Selezu, Setulai and Sepadok in the Sebauh District, Bintulu.

They claimed that they had native customary rights over those lands which were not merely lands. Lands, they said, constituted their life, and from where they derived food, valuable medicines, wildlife and natural produce fore their livelihood and sustenance.

They cultivated padi, fruit trees, rubber, cocoa and other essential trees and crops on those lands. Hence, they argued that native customary rights land, comprising lands and forests, were not just a source of livelihood but life itself.

They said that their NCR over their lands was recognised in and by law and expressly acknowledged and honoured by the government of the day.

However, possibly due to an act of recklessness and negligence of the 4th defendants (Land and Survey Department) and the 5th defendants (the State Government) or in disregard of the plaintiffs’ acquired, vested or accrued rights in the native customary land, two provisional leases over Lot 2 Block 4 Selezu Land District and Lot 2 Block 34 Kemena Land District were issued to the 2nd defendants (Lembaga Tabung Haji) and 3rd defendants (Semai Mekar Sdn Bhd) on 2 December 1996.

The said provisional leases covered and included a substantial part of the plaintiffs’ said native customary rights land.

High Court Judge David Wong granted that the plaintiffs have native customary rights over the lands they cleared on 21 January 2010.

The judge ordered that the NCR lands should be ratified and excluded from the provisional leases.

The plaintiffs must be given vacant possessions forthwith, he said.

The judge ordered that damages for the plaintiffs to be assessed 4% interest per annum from the date of encroachment to the date of judgment and 8% from the date of judgment to the realization of the payment.

Costs to the plaintiffs are to be assessed by the Court.

Against this decision, the State Government and company applied for stay of execution.

In today’ hearing, High Court Judge Linton Albert dismissed the government’s application and awarded costs to the land owners.

Following the Court decision, See Chee How of Baru Bian Advocates and Solicitors said the company must completely vacate the land and deliver the same to the plaintiffs.- The Broken Shield


Tuesday, February 23

Is SPDP’s Shield going to be broken?

Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) is heading towards a big trouble when five of its elected representatives and three members of the supreme council are abandoning the party and are applying to join Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), another member of the Barisan Nasional (BN).

The five are State Assemblyman for Tasik Biru, Peter Nansian, the State Assemblywoman for Bekenu Rosey Yunus, the State Assemblyman for Marudi, Sylvester Enteri, State Assemblyman for Batu Danau, Paulus Gumbang and the MP for Mas Gading Dr. Tiki Lafe and three supreme council members – George Garai, Peter Gani and Eda Egar.

They want to join PRS under the pretext of merger so that their “transfer” to PRS will be smooth. More are expected to join them. The “group of eight” is aptly applying the SPDP principle – "Sapa Pedis Dulu Pansut".

But SPDP deputy president Peter Nyarok in a statement today has taken to task the group led by Datuk Peter Nansian for acting on their own accord without the sanction of SPDP for hastening and negotiating the merger with Parti Rakyat Sarawak.

“The group needs to be reminded that SPDP has already appointed a committee under my chairmanship,” Nyarok said, stressing that the committee has to work jointly with the committee from PRS to discuss and chart out the roadmap for the merger.

The chairman of the PRS’s appointed committee for the merger was the late Datuk Dublin Unting Ingkot and is now replaced by Dato Billy Abit Joo.

The joint-committee, co-chaired by the two chairmen, has met three times and to date it has shown progress, although a lot more areas have to be covered and resolved.

“The wishes and views of party members at branch and divisional levels must be taken into account and respected before any major decision such as the proposed merger can be made.

“SPDP wishes to reiterate that no individuals or groups other than the appointed Merger Committee are authorized to speak or negotiate on matters relating to the merger on behalf of SPDP.

“Those refusing to comply with this procedure are deemed to be acting on their own accord and SPDP does not recognize their action,”
said Nyarok.

”It must be acknowledged that the merger is a complex and tedious process as it involves looking into the interests and sentiments of leaders and members of both political parties.

“It is a process that cannot be forcibly hurried by some individuals who fail to see the big picture and are not able to operate according to the order and discipline of their party,” he said.

Background to the crisis

It is indeed a pity that SPDP which broke away from Sarawak National Party (SNAP) in 2002 is facing a similar problem – all due to big towkays. During SNAP’s crisis, the “gang of nine” as the group was then known walked out from a CWC meeting when the meeting decided to expel Tiong King Sing from the party. Ironically, the “gang of nine” who was unhappy with the decision to expel Tiong was led by William Mawan who later formed what is now known as SPDP.

This time the “Group of eight” was not happy with the party president’s decision to replace Sylvester Enteri with Nelson Balang as secretary-general after the president did not honour his promise to maintain status quo in the party prior to the party’s triennial general assembly. Initially Balang refused to accept the appointment, as he knew that his appointment might cause a split in the party. But after a week of persuasion, he finally agreed.

It was also understood that the president wanted Kilat Briak, a prominent lawyer who hails from Saratok to be appointed as secretary-general. But Nyarok vehemently opposed it as he did not want Kilat to be too strong in the party. Nyarok does not want Mawan to groom Kilat to replace him in the Krian constituency. Nyarok, the sources said, wants his son-in-law to replace him perhaps in the coming state election.

But for the “group of eight” Enteri’s termination as secretary-general is a mere excuse. The problem in the party has been brewing up for the past one year or so especially when the president has allegedly failed to perform as a leader such as not keeping his promises made to some senior members of the party as well as not having a mind of his own; he listens too much to one man, the man who treated every member of the supreme council of the party as small children.

And during the last TGA, the man really showed his authority when he made decisions on behalf of the president such as deciding the list of the president’s men as well as the list of SPDP youth. When anyone questioned him, he shouted at him as if he was a beggar.

Mawan has been reminded about these insults, but he ignored them. Now he is paying the price of not listening to the party members. And the “gang of eight” has made up their mind to abandon SPDP and join PRS. They had first informed Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud. It is understood the two leaders seemingly agreed with their decision.

All the Dayak-based parties have shields as their symbols. And we have seen by now how the symbols of Dayak-based parties - the Shield of Sarawak National Party and the Shield of Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) being broken; and how the Shield of Pesaka absorbed into Parti Bumiputra and how the Shield of PRS was almost broken. Is the Shield of SPDP going to be broken as a result of the current crisis? – The Broken Shield


Najib visits an Iban longhouse

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak this morning (22 Feb 10) visited Rumah Juliana Bedus, Kemidan, Saratok. He was accompanied by politicians and officials both from the Federal and State Governments.

This longhouse is believed to be one of the most modern longhouses, if not the most modern in Sarawak or even in the whole of Malaysia. All the floors and walls are tiled. All “biliks” are fully air-conditioned. All roads to the longhouse are fully tar-sealed; electricity and clean water are being supplied.

It is very rare for Malaysian Prime Ministers to visit an Iban longhouse and since such a visit is very rare, Najib should have been brought to ill-equipped or dilapidated longhouses, so that he knows the real poverty situation, the miseries and the problems faced by the Ibans, due to lack of infrastructural development, the lack of economic activities and lack of medical facilities.

And by knowing the real poverty situation of the people, he will certainly make bigger financial allocations to help the people improve their livelihood and standard of living and so that they can also share the fruits of Merdeka. Many of the Iban longhouses have been neglected even though we have been Merdeka for the last 46 years.

After seeing Rumah Juliana, Najib must have the impression that all Iban longhouses and Ibans themselves have progressed tremendously. Nevertheless Najib announced an allocation of RM3.4 billion for infrastructural development in the rural areas. I thought I heard and read the same amount of money for rural infrastructural development as announced by rural and regional development minister last month. Could the allocation be the same?

And another question is: Will Iban longhouses in other areas not in SCORE areas benefit from part of the allocation?The Broken Shield


Friday, February 19

Oil Palm small holding

In Julau last week YB Joseph Salang suggested that oil palm developers should adopt concept of “sewa pajak” (mortgage) to develop native customary rights land.

Under this concept, the Deputy Minister of Information, Communication and Culture explained that the land is rented to the developers and involved the setting up of mini estates instead of large scale land use.

“Not all NCLs are suitable for large scale cultivation like oil palm plantation because of terrain and soil condition.

“In addition, not all land owners like long term joint ventures (of 60 years),”
he said when meeting the people of Rumah Mauwa in Nanga Masit, Julau.

He said that land owners and interested parties could work out a mechanism for rent payment. It could be based on a number of trees planted like the case of rubber.

The other option is for the land owners to develop their land under small holding schemes just like they planted rubber under the rubber planting schemes.

In fact under this scheme land owners earn more money than they go for joint venture with big companies or even with SALCRA where their earnings/dividends/bonus are just like “ikan bilis”.

Let me illustrate a story told to me when I was at Melayu Ili, Betong two weeks ago about a grandfather receiving RM700 dividends from SALCRA after seven years of planting. He was proud receiving the dividend and showed a cheque for that amount to his grandson.

“Reti nya aki, nuan semina nerima RM100 setaun tauka RM8.33 sebulan,” ko uchu iya. (It means that his grandfather received RM100 per year or RM8.33 per month).

Compared the earnings of small holders like Tuai Rumah Masa of Tekuyong, Ubah, Pantu, who earns between RM1,500 and RM2,500 a day. His average income per month is around RM15,000.

Cobbold John Lusoi is another example. His daily income is around RM1,500 a day. There are few Ibans in Balai Ringin, Simunjan, Pantu and Sri Aman earning RM1,000 or more.

Previously, these small holders sell their oil palm fruits direct to SALCRA or Tabung Haji mills and are being paid weeks later.

But now they sell direct to a company, Century Garden Sarawak which is owned by Tedewin Ngumbang and friends.

Workers from this company go direct to small holders and buy the fruits and pay them on the spot. The small holders do not worry about transportation nor do they worry about late payment.
The company will then send the fruits to either SALCRA mill or Tabung Haji which one of them offers better services and facilities.

According to Tedewin, his company is prepared to help Ibans going into the planting of oil palm on small holding basis. – The Broken Shield


Monday, February 15

SADIA Sec Gen chased out from NCR land forum

KUCHING – President of Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia, Adrian Banie Lasimbang condemned the discriminating act by the Prime Minister’s Department in preventing Nicholas Mujah, a community representative, from participating in the public forum that was organised by the department.

The aim of the forum held at a leading hotel was to gather information and feedback on numerous issues so as to understand and resolve the perennial problems of the people.

The forum, part of the national circuit, was chaired by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Idris Jala.

Participants included senior government officers from various ministries, Resident and District officers, Sarawak Attorney General, representatives of plantation companies, community leaders and private individuals.

Mujah, Secretary General of Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA) which has been in the forefront of defending native customary rights lands against encroachment by companies and Pelita was chased out from the land forum on Tuesday, 9 February 2010.

Commenting on the incident, Lasimbang said: “The organisers of the forum were wrong in ejecting Mujah out, a well known community representative and NCR activist who has been advocating Orang Asal rights. He plays an important role in providing feedback as well as recommendations for the public forum.

“Mujah should not be stopped from attending the forum, unless the Prime Minister’s Department is not serious in addressing the NCR land issues and that this event is just another window dressing for the public,”
he said.

Mujah who is also a member of Peoples Network had already participated in the first part of the forum in the morning session. During the morning break, he was pulled by one of the organisers to a room and was told to leave the forum as participation was only by invitation.

“Until the government moves forward towards a meaningful solution with the full and effective participation of the Orang Asal, NCR land disputes will continue to take place throughout the state, and to the detriment of the rights of the indigenous peoples of Sarawak,” Lasimbang added.

According to Mujah: “When they saw me attending the meeting, I was called by a member of the organising committee and asked me which organisation I was from.

“I told them I am from the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association. He told me to leave as I was not invited to attend,”
Mujah said.

He claimed that he was invited to attend in order to represent a non-governmental organisation.

Mujah said that an organisation such as SADIA which has deeply involved in NCR land issues should be invited to explain the “real truth” and the roots of the problems.

“The government must be given the truths and the correct facts if they are really serious of solving the problems. There is nothing g to hide.

“And why should they be scared of SADIA?”
he asked.

All this while, he added, the federal government has been misled by the State authorities and it is high time the federal government be told the truth.

Mujah said that SADIA would write to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and Minister in the Prime Minister Department, Idris Jala on the NCR land problems.

Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu Anak Numpang blamed non-governmental organisations for “cocking up” NCR land issues which were compounded by their claims and allegations that the government was out to steal native customary land, particularly those belonging to the Ibans.

“If the land is rightly theirs the government would return it to them. In fact in many cases the government has returned many NCL to their owners.

“These NGOs have made the issues a platform from which to manipulate the people as well as make attempts to topple the government,”
he said.

He said the Land Code in Sarawak recognised by the State and the Federal Government and therefore the rights of the natives are indeed protected.

“So it is not correct for the people to say that the government had stolen their NCL,” Jabu stressed. – The Broken Shield

Thursday, February 11

Saloi the Movie

KUCHING – Among the Iban folklore, Apai Saloi is a well-known person both for his stupidity and comedy, but when he is known as Sabaginda Bujang, he is noted for his intelligence and bravery. Even legendary heroes like Keling, Sampurai, Bungai Nuing and Pandak Sagatak have high regard for him.

But his son Saloi is a different personality.

Allen Tinggie Trading Sdn Bhd of Sarikei has come up with a film to introduce Apai Saloi and his son in a movie – Saloi the Movie.

Joseph Allen, producer of the film, said that a soft launching will be held at the Kuching Park Hotel over a dinner at 7.30 p.m. on 14 February 2010 (Sunday).

Allan said a grand launching will be held later on at a different venue, after which it will be screened at “Panggong Wayang”.

The one and half hour “Saloi the movie” in Iban language is believed to be the first Iban film to be screened at cinemas.

Allan called on Iban organisations such as Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA), Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU), Sarawak Dayak Graduates Association (SDGA), Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) and Dayak Cultural Foundation (DCF) to support the film by buying tables at the soft launching.

Each table is priced at RM500.00. Tickets are still available from Joseph Allen – HP 019-8154707.The Broken Shield


Tuesday, February 9

BN’s Failures, says Ng

KUCHING - A Sarawak PKR leader, Dominique Ng, has attributed the rural backwardness such as the lack of basic infrastructure development in Sarawak due to the Barisan Nasional government’s decades of neglect.

“The track record in Sarawak under BN does not give room for optimism as basic infrastructure such as pipe water, electricity, tar-sealed roads, and affordable housing not to mention IT access are still lacking in many communities.

“This is against the backdrop of native NCR land dispossession, large scale deforestation and mammoth palm oil estates, the benefits of these latter are not shared by the rural communities as they deserve to.

“The rural backwardness is clearly the BN government’s decades of rural neglect,”
stressed Ng, who is State Assemblyman for Padungan.

The BN government has not just put its own 2020 vision in critical jeopardy, he said, adding that it is dragging the nation down in competitiveness vis-à-vis several other countries of the developing world, not to mention the little Dragons of Asia.

Ng was commenting on the Roadmap for Government Transformation Programme (GTP) of the Prime Minister in which six key performance areas or six areas of improvement, or National Key Results Areas (NKRAs), were announced.

They were reducing crime, combating corruption, raising the living standard of low-income citizens, widening access to education, improving infrastructure in rural areas and upgrading public transportation.

Describing such a roadmap as a mirage to hoodwink Malaysians, especially in Sarawak, Ng said it will not be realized or sustained.

“Sure these are not only valid areas of concern, but also an admission of the failure of governance under Barisan National; in Sarawak, these have been the neglected areas since the formation of Malaysia.

“Yet, these are not the only fields where the Barisan National Government has either failed, or has been strong on rhetoric but poor on delivery. With respect to Sarawak, I refer to the omitted or unmentioned areas of Healthcare in the public sector, social welfare, labour rights, public administration, human rights, tourism growth, environmental protection, historical and cultural heritage preservation among others, where Sarawak is trailing far behind,”
he added, accusing both the Federal and State governments of leading the people to a steep and slippery slope of decline in performance indicators in a range of socio-economic sectors. – The Broken Shield


Saturday, February 6

Who are lying?

We often hear from our ministers and elected representatives telling their constituents that the government does not take away the people’s NCR land without paying compensations.

They accuse the Opposition people of telling lies, exploiting and manipulating the NCR land issues.

“Yes the government does pay and we do not deny it,” said a senior PKR leader, especially when NCR lands are taken by the government for the construction of public utilities such as for the construction of roads, schools and hospitals, the government will compensate according to the values determined by the Department of Lands and Surveys.

Before such projects begin, compensations have to be paid first.

But our ministers and elected representatives are deaf and dumb large tracts of NCR lands are taken away and leased by government to big companies and its cronies. Not only compensations are not paid, the NCR land owners themselves are being chased away, their houses are demolished, their fruit trees, rubber, cocoa and pepper gardens destroyed.

And when the land owners reported the matter to the authorities, no one will listen to them; instead they condemn the land owners for being “anti-development”, and for listening to propaganda by the Opposition. And what is strange is that when the companies lodge reports to the Police, the Police are quick to take action as if they work for the companies, resulting many of the land owners being arrested for defending their rights and lands. There are literally hundreds of these cases against land owners who have to resort to Court to intervene.

Now at a story headlined by The Borneo Post on 4 February 2010 on page 6: “Stop activities on disputed land: claimants”.

The 100 or more people of Bekelit Ulu and Ili in Sibuti have occupied their 320 acres of land since 1945 – about 65 years ago. Under the Land Code, they have the native customary rights over the said land. But a company has planted oil palm on their lands against their will or even without their consent. They have reported the matter to the Police and likewise the company has also reported the matter to the Police.

Under the Iban Adat, if you plant something on someone’s land without his consent, then all the fruit trees planted there belong to the land owner. The NCR land owners in Ubah and Tekuyong in Pantu have applied this Adat and are collecting oil palm fruits from their NCR land and many earn a few thousand ringgits per day. The company and Police cannot do anything, because the lands are their lands.

“Who ask you to plant oil palm in my ancestral lands?” they asked.

Now coming back to our ministers and YBs, it appears that many of them are either talking through their noses or simply accusing the Opposition of lying and manipulating the issues for a political mileage. Now who are lying: The BN YBs or Opposition? - The Broken Shield


Wednesday, February 3

Are our YBs a cat’s-paw?

KUCHING - Borneo Researches Institute Malaysia (Brimas) has accused PBB secretary general Stephen Rundi and his party as solely and directly responsible for the loss of the rights of the natives over their land in his own constituency of Kemena

“As secretary general of Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu, a party claiming to represent and protect bumiputra rights and whose president is the Chief Minister and Minister of Planning and Resource Management, Rundi and his party are directly and solely responsible for the said deprivation,” Mark Bujang, Brimas executive director said in a statement.

The voters in Kemena should ask their elected representative to read and digest the official map or plan called the “Composite Plan Showing Distribution of Native Farming Lands in Suai/Niah/Sibuti” which recorded the boundary of the once primary forested land allocated by the Brooke and the British Colonial Governments to each of the native longhouses in early 1930s.

“The present government of which Rundi has been and is still an active part of it has blatantly disregarded the rights of the natives over the land within their respective boundaries by arbitrarily issuing provisional leases thereon to big companies thus depriving the natives of their allocated lands,” Mark said.

He made the statement in response to comments made by Rundi, who is the Assistant Minister of Public Health.

The State Assemblyman for Kemena had said that native customary rights land were lands that were inherited from one generation to the next before 1958, whereas temuda lands were those occupied after 1958.

He blamed the land owners for not knowing the difference between native customary rights land and temuda (farming land).

“While NCR lands are passed from generation to generation before 1958, temuda lands are the lands occupied after the 1958,” Rundi had said.

Mark said: “From his statement, it is obvious that Rundi is confused and has yet to have a full understanding of what NCR is and its concepts according to the customs and practices of the Ibans and also according to the law.”

“NCR is created over land when natives cleared a forested area for the purpose of occupation, farming, hunting, fishing, and searching for forest produce, establishing pendam (gravesites) as well as using the area as a right of way or for other lawful purposes for the community’s livelihood.

“It has no document of title and it can be passed down from one generation to the next according to customs of the community.

“For the Ibans, lands are closely associated with religious beliefs, cultural practices and traditional farming methods,”
Mark said, pointing out that NCR land does not confine to temuda (farming) land, tembawai (sites of previous settlements) and gravesites, but it also includes an area known as ‘pemakai menua’ and ‘pulau’ (forested areas) where they can fish, hunt, collect jungle produce and get their drinking water.

From the legal point of view of Sarawak Land code 1958, he said NCR land has been defined as land where native customary rights has been established through communal or otherwise before 1 January 1958.

NCR land can also be created within a reserve land under section 6 or interior area land over which NCR have lawfully been created pursuant to a permit under section 10 of the Land Code.

Mark said that after 1 January 1958, NCR land can still be created if the native communities still occupy or an individual still belongs to his community who are occupying their ‘pemakai menua’.

NCR could also be established, he said, when natives clear virgin jungle, and plant fruit trees, farming, establishing graveyard, occupying cultivated land or using land for rights of way or any other lawful method under Section 5(2) of the Land Code 1958; and when they obtain permit under section 10 of the Code to create their NCR.

Mark said Rundi should read a number of Court decisions especially the ones on Nor Anak Nyawai on the Borneo Pulp Plantation Sdn Bhd, on Madeli bin Salleh and the recent High Court decision on Agi Anak Bungkong against Land and Survey and the State Government.

“We also call on Rundi to refer to reports by Suhakam entitled Legal Perspectives on Native Customary Land Rights in Sarawak,” he said, expressing the hope that the assistant minister would not make nonsensical comments in the future.

Are they not making a laughing stock of themselves for their stupid statements or as a cat’s-paw by Pelita to grab NCR lands? - The Broken Shield