KUCHING: Pakatan Rakyat has assured the Dayak community that it will recognise native customary rights (NCR) land as defined by the courts.
“This is the pledge of Pakatan Rakyat when we take over both the state and federal governments,” said Sarawak DAP chairman Wong Ho Leng at a Dayak Reawakening seminar.
“We have to abide by the court decisions which have declared that NCR lands include temuda land (farming land), pulau galau (communal forests), pemakai menua (territorial domain), pendam (graves) and tembawai (old longhouse sites),” said Wong who is also the state assemblyman for Bukit Assek.
DAP, PKR and PAS are partners in the Pakatan Rakyat.
“The Pakatan Rakyat will not be like the Barisan Nasional which has refused to abide by the court decisions. The BN government recognises and surveys only the temuda land. Other portions of the NCR lands are taken away and given to plantation conglomerates and crony companies.
“Unhappy landowners are suing the government for taking away their lands. There are now more than 200 NCR land cases. Some have been decided by the courts and many more are pending hearing,” he said.
Wong who is a lawyer said that the cases which the High Court had decided in favour of the Dayaks, the state government appealed against such decisions.
“The state government appeals to the Court of Appeal, when they fail again, they appeal to the Federal Court.
“Even the Federal Court agreed with the lower courts that NCR lands should include pulau galau, pemakai menua, temuda land, and so on.
“Yet today, the state government refuses to abide by that ruling,” he said.
“Clearly, the state government is not sincere in helping to develop the NCR lands. They are more interested in giving the NCR land to their cronies,” he added.
According to the state government, there are 1.6 million hectares of NCR lands.
“But where are they? Do you know where?" Wong asked, pointing out that when the Pakatan Rakyat formed the government, it will identify the lands, survey and give titles to the rightful owners.
“We will not take away the NCR lands. Instead we will help the Dayaks to develop their land. Certainly it will not be a Pelita-type of land concept where the native landowners only receive 0.17 sen as dividends per acre per year.
“To help the landowners, we will form a land commission. This is our pledge,” he said.
The DAP leader also asked Dayak ministers like Alfred Jabu (Deputy Chief Minister), James Masing (Land Development Minister), William Mawan (Social Development and Urbanisation Minister) and Michael Manyin (Infrastructure Development Minister) what have they done to protect the NCR lands.
“It is really pitiful and sorrowful that the Dayak ministers, members of parliament and state assemblymen are not prudent and not true spokesmen for the Dayak communities.
“They are not daring enough to talk about NCR land problems in Parliament or in the state assembly. I can tell you that during coffee breaks, they (BN Dayak reps) chose to sit next to us. Suddenly I felt pieces of paper being pushed into my pocket.
“Even without opening the papers, I know what is written inside. It concerns NCR land problems which they want us, the Opposition, to raise,” he said.
Calling on all Dayaks to be united, Wong said: “You must know your rights. These are your fundamental rights. Land is your life.
“And you must not allow your land to be taken to plantation conglomerates and to their cronies.
“Together, let us defend your rights,” he said.