Friday, September 30

Dressed chicken shortage: Whose fault?

As reported by The Borneo Post on Wednesday (28 Sept), the government may be forced to allow the import of chicken into the state if local chicken breeders do not increase their production to meet the shortfall in demand, says Assistant Minister of Agriculture Mong Dagang.

At present the state bans the import of dressed chicken and chicken parts to protect the chicken farming industry.

Mong said the decision to import chicken would be the option to stabilise the price in the local market.

Whose fault is this?

Remember the state government closed all the 19 agricultural stations throughout the state decades ago.

Under the government extension programmes, agricultural officers and home demonstrators from all these stations would visit longhouses and villages to encourage and advise how to run cottage industry or home economics such as rearing chicken, goats, cows, ducks, and culturing fish as well as planting pepper, vegetables, sewing, cakes making and so on.

At that time, rural people were really involved in small time businesses such as selling chickens, eggs, cakes, vegetables as well handicraft products.

After all these agricultural stations were closed, the state suffered shortages of all these products. But what come in are new crony companies such as CCK.

I heard recently Alfred Jabu Anak Numpang, Deputy Chief Minister-cum-Agriculture and Rural Development minister wanted to reopen all these agricultural stations.

The government must have realised their folly.

Monday, September 26

State Govt lost again

SIBU: The State government lost yet another case of dispute over native customary rights (NCR) land to the natives this time at Budu, Krian, Saratok, prompting Baru Bian, the natives’ legal counsel to say that it is a clear proof of land grab by the present government.

“Today (23 September), another judgment handed down by the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak at Sibu, is another clear proof that the land grab by the present State Government of Native Customary Land (NCL) in Sarawak is on the rise,” Bian, who is Sarawak PKR chief said.

He was commenting on the natives’ victory against a company Vita Hill Sdn Bhd, the Director of Forests and the state government.

The plaintiffs who are all Iban natives of Sarawak, headed by their longhouse Chief or Tuai Rumah Gayan anak Tupai, and three others brought a legal action on their own behalf, as well as on behalf of 15 other residents who claimed to be proprietors, occupiers, and claimants of Native Customary Rights (NCR) land approximately 3,308.15 acres.

The land is situated at their longhouse known as Rumah Gayan, Dassey, Budu, Krian, Saratok, Sarawak, against three defendants a timber licensee Vita Hill Sdn Bhd and the issuing authority, the Director of Forests, Sarawak and the State Government of Sarawak.

The plaintiffs claimed that on or about the 13th day of June 2006, without the knowledge and/or consent of the plaintiffs, the Director of Forests Sarawak, the second defendant had issued out to the Vita Hill Sdn Bhd, the first defendant a Timber Licence No. T/3456, which area includes or overlaps onto the plaintiffs’ NCR Land.

The Plaintiffs had proven in the trial that the first defendant and/or their servants or agents had constructed timber roads or feeder roads on the plaintiffs’ said NCR Land and therefore trespassing thereon causing extensive damages.

Bian said the plaintiffs amongst other things also claimed that there was no extinguishment of the plaintiffs’ NCR within the land covered by the said Timber Licence before the same was issued to the first defendant and/or no provision as to compensation in accordance with the Land Code of Sarawak, Forest Ordinance Sarawak and the Federal Constitution was ever made or paid to the Plaintiffs.

Therefore alienation of the said timber licence is unlawful, unconstitutional, and improper and therefore the plaintiffs said that the issuance of the timber licence was null and void.

Further, the plaintiffs argued that the said timber licence is subject to their NCR and therefore their NCR should prevail over the said Timber Licence.

The High Court Judge Puan Yew Jen Kie, handed down her judgment on Friday afternoon concurring with the plaintiffs’ claims, made the following orders:

· A declaration that the Plaintiffs had acquired and/or inherited Native title and/or Native Customary Rights (NCR) and/or usufructuary rights over the said NCR Land as claimed by the plaintiffs.

· A declaration that the first defendant and/or their servants or agents had trespassed upon the said NCR Land of the Plaintiffs.

· A declaration that the said timber licence T/3456, is subject to the plaintiffs’ said Native title and/or Native Customary Rights (NCR) and/or usufructuary rights over the said NCR Land.

The Court ordered that as a consequence order the area under the said timber licence No. T/3456, be rectified to exclude the area claimed by the plaintiffs as their native title and/or native customary rights and/or usufructuary rights land.

The Court also ordered that an injunction restraining the first defendant and/or its employees, servants and/or agents from trespassing, clearing, using or occupying the plaintiffs’ said NCR land.

The judge said that an order that the plaintiffs be given vacant possession of their said NCR Land and the first defendant and/or its employees, servants and/or agents to cease operations and remove all structures and their equipments or machineries from the Plaintiffs’ said NCR Land forthwith.

She said that the damages suffered by the plaintiffs be assessed by the Senior Assistant Registrar of the High Court.

Bian said that it is interesting to note that the plaintiffs went back into their history to prove their case. They claimed that they are the fifth generation of Ibans who occupied the said NCR Land since the time of their ancestors Luyoh Anak Rekan when Sarawak was still under the control of the Brunei Sultanate.

Some documentary proofs like Occupation Tickets issued in the 1930s to some of the Plaintiffs and their parents were evidences of legal occupation.

More recent proofs were the fact that the plaintiffs were compensated by the State Government due to the construction of a public road in 2001 across their NCR Land, Bian said.

The plaintiffs were represented by their Counsel Mr. Baru Bian of Messrs Baru Bian Advocates & Solicitors, Kuching, the first defendant Vita Hill Sdn Bhd by Puan Siti Norashidah Binti Dollah of Messrs Huang & Co., Sibu, and the second and third Defendants, who are the Director of Forests Sarawak and State Government of Sarawak respectively were represented by legal Officer Joseph Chioh Hock Hua.

Bian said: “We welcome this judgment and hope that it would inspire others to fight on to defend their NCR over land in Sarawak, notwithstanding the possibility that the Government of Sarawak may yet appeal against another judgment favouring the natives of Sarawak as in other cases won before this.

“If indeed the State Government and her present political leaders are true to their words of respecting NCR over land in Sarawak and the Court’s judgments as such as this, they should not appeal against this judgment.

“On the other hand, I wish to urge the natives of Sarawak to think really hard of taking the alternative and most effective means of resolving this NCR land issues vis-à-vis logging companies, plantation companies, quarry licences and dams constructions which had driven them to squatters and illegal occupiers status upon their own NCR land by voting for Pakatan Rakyat in the next General Election.

“This is because only a Pakatan Rakyat Government at the Federal and State level could understand the plight of the natives in Sarawak over their NCR land issues and has the political will to resolve it,” said Bian who is the assemblyman for Ba’Kelalan.

Saturday, September 24

Mawan defends Jabu

KUCHING: Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) president Tan Sri William Mawan Ikom defended Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang against a blog and news portal’s unfair perception on the latter’s tone and body language at the just concluded Forum Jaku Iban 2011 (FJI 2011) here.

Mawan who is the Patron of the FJI 2011 said the blog and news portal were not correct to state that Jabu condemned and slammed the organisers or event managers when delivering his closing speech on Sept 17 2011 at Hotel Four Points By Sheraton.

By any standard FJI 2011 event was successfully managed, he said in his press statement delivered to press yesterday.

“Even so they must by all mean read the other side of the coin. Jabu donated RM10,000 and even advised the organisers or event managers to register their team with Registrar (of Society) and study the Iban alphabet.

I was told that the committee took the advices positively and constructively and intend to start Iban alphabet training centre here,” he said.

These are constructive advices and Jabu stated them passionately at the end of his closing speech, said Mawan who is Social Development and Urbanisation.

To the anti-government bloggers and news portal, Mawan said: “We must accept each other and let us not bring political differences to the forum talking about a very important subject – the Iban identity.”

Mawan was referring to the Iban Alphabet founded by the late Dunging Gunggu from 1947 to 1962 when he revised it. The alphabet is now developed by Assoc Prof Dr Bromeley Philip of UiTM Sarawak in computerised fonts.

Mawan reiterated that all Iban must accept each other when it comes to their identity, especially through language and the latest, ethnic or Iban alphabet.

“As the patron of the Iban language forum, I accept all responsibility and will also try to accommodate everybody. The forum is not the end of the matter and we must not look back and try to tussle each other that may slows down the process of establishing our own identity,” he said.

Bromeley, FJI 2011 Chairman of Papers Presentation, said he will start a class with Jabu’s first RM10,000 donation.

The committee members who will be his first few students will not be charged fee but still have to buy the software at discounted rate. Others may be charged fee.

Channel 180 Astro or TVi ‘Sitok Kamek’ will broadcast Bromeley’s interview on his alphabet system and the just concluded Iban forum at 6pm today (Saturday). He said this at a FJI 2011 committee post mortem meeting at Hotel Four Points By Sheraton here.

The above story will appear in The Borneo Post tomorrow (23 September).


Foot note: The Broken Shield stand by its news story, as the whole of Jabu’s speech which lasted one hour and four minutes.

The Broken Shield is given to understand by a reporter that two days ago, the organisers of Forum Jaku Iban were summoned to Jabu’s office asking them to defend him that the whole criticisms labelled by him against the organisers were not true.

But the organisers replied that they could not do that and suggested William Mawan Ikom, the patron of the forum and minister of social development and urbanisation to defend him.

Mawan was contacted and agreed to defend Jabu.

A statement was drafted and passed to him, and later distributed to the Press including the Broken Shield.

Please don’t try to dig a hole to cover another hole.

What do the readers think of the whole thing?

Tuesday, September 20

Jabu condemns Iban language forum

KUCHING: About 500 participants of ‘Forum Jaku Iban’ (Iban Language Forum) including Iban language experts, professors, university students and secondary students were shocked at the tone of Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu Anak Numpang, in criticising and questioning the integrity of the organisers of the form.

“Who are you to organise this forum? Are you men of your word?” asked Jabu, when he closed the one-day forum at a leading hotel here.

“My advice to you is establish your committee properly and not on an ad hoc basis. Spell out your aims and objectives, and be accountable to the donations given by the people.

“And don’t overdo with publicity, and don’t talk big. Let others make assessments of your work,”
Jabu said.

He warned the organisers not to mix with organisations and people who have negative agendas against the government.

“You have to ally yourself with the government, and don’t attempt to be an outsider working against the noble objective of ‘begulai-sejalai’ (working together in unity),” said Jabu, who is Deputy President of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB).

Apparently Jabu was not happy for not being consulted on the forum and was asked only to officiate at the closing ceremony. He would prefer to open it.

But by criticising the forum organiser, the Utusan Borneo which published daily a page of news in Iban language Jabu indirectly hit at the Ministry of Social Development and Urbanisation, professors and Iban language experts from University Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI, Tanjung Malim, UiTM, Unimas and the State education department for supporting and recognising the efforts to organise the forum.

Four papers – Tun Jugah Foundation’s ways of empowering Iban Literature by Janang Ensiring and Jantan Umbat of the Foundation, Iban Literature by Dr. Chemaline Osup, of Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI), Iban Language Development by Padang Luna, Ministry of Education and Iban Linguistic Identity: Dunging’s Alphabet and Borneo Research Institute of Native Studies (BRAINS) proposed by Assoc. Prof Dr. Bromeley Philip of UiTM – were presented at the forum.

William Mawan Ikom, Minister of Social Development and Urbanisation officiated at the opening ceremony.

Continuing his tirade against the organisers, Jabu asked the organisers whether they are prepared to learn the Dunging Alphabet system. (Dunging Anak Gunggu was the creator of Iban Alphabet).

“Are you prepared to learn the system before you recommend the participants and others to learn?

“I challenge the organisers of this forum to learn the system, and I don’t want any single organiser to fail otherwise don’t think of others to learn it.

“I give the organisers, if you are men and women of your word, two years to study the system. Put in the Utusan Borneo the spelling system. Only then the people will believe you. Otherwise nobody will believe you,”
he added.

Typical of Jabu, half of his speech contained criticisms of other Dayaks, and the other half was full of self-glorification.

For instance, he talked about his success and efforts in the last 30 years in promoting the study of Iban language in schools.

“Now we have 60,535 students learning Iban in the country, out which 43,963 are in primary schools the state.

“The number is increasing. I support the idea to expand the usage of Jaku Iban in universities such as UPSI and other institutions.

“For as long as I live I will continue in my capacity, in my wife’s capacity and in that of my family’s to help synergise the usage of Jaku Iban,”
he said.

Any Dayak Non-governmental organisation (NGO) which organises seminars and forums on Iban culture and language if the organisers do not consult him are certain to receive ‘baptism of fire’ from Jabu, who considers himself not only an authority on Iban Adat and language, but as the ‘paramount chief’ of the Iban community.

Tun Jugah foundation had clashed with him on the organisation of Dayak Cultural seminar, while Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) clashed with him on Dayak economic seminars, Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU) on gawai celebrations and Rumah Dayak building and Sarawak Dayak Iban Association of native customary rights land.

Even Sarawak Dayak Graduates Association (SDGA) does not see eye to eye with Jabu.

Asked to comment on Jabu’s outbursts, Churchill Edward, Secretary of the Forum Organising committee said that although the committee was running at ad hoc basis, the committee took the challenges by the deputy chief minister positively and seriously.

“We understand that as the ‘paramount chief of the Iban he has the right to challenge the committee because he knew there were two or three committees which came and went.

“To him the previous committees were not so serious. Therefore he has the right to challenge us to register the committee, and to get experts, to get sponsorship and be accountable for the money collected,”
Churchill said, pointing out that the government should not object for the committee to be registered.

On his challenge for them to learn the dunging alphabet system, Churchill said that to learn Dunging system, the committee could do it.

“Our committee has decided even take organise a tuition centre to teach our selves first and then we can teach our children, and others,” he said.

He thanked Jabu for his donation of RM10,000 for them to learn the system.

Several Dayak leaders who were present at the function were taken aback with Jabu’s criticisms and his self-glorification.

His criticisms are certain to alienate him further from the Iban community, said one senior Dayak leader.

Friday, September 16

Taib’s pilot project a failure, says Bian

KUCHING: Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud’s pilot project of 10,000 hectares planted with oil palm in the Kelibut and Maong plantations in the Kanowit District is a total failure, says Sarawak PKR Chief Baru Bian.

“This plantation is a very interesting one, because it is the brain child of the chief minister on how idle native customary right (NCR) land should be developed according to ‘konsep baru’ (new concept),” he said.

Launched in 1996 by the chief minister himself, the Kelibut and Maong plantation involved some 600 native landowners.

The interesting case is that the project was harped upon by the government all these years as the best concept through which NCR land could be developed, he said.

Bian was asked to comment on the on-going court case in Sibu where 163 native landowners are suing Boustead, Pelita and the state government for the non-payment of dividends and at the same time to nullify their agreement with the company which planted the oil palm in their land at Kelibut and Maong in the Kanowit district.

He said: “This is the first pilot project. I think there is another one in Pantu.

“The sad thing is that it is not a successful enterprise. According to the claim of the landowners, they were promised to be given dividends after four years of planting, that is, in 2000 and 2001.

“But they have never received any dividends, so they came to see us in 2009 before Gawai about eight or nine years later to nullify the agreement,” said Bian, who is a lawyer and the elected representative for Ba’Kelalan.

However, when the company heard about the landowners seeing their lawyers, the company immediately released an interim dividend of RM29 per hectare to the landowners.

“Some really received only RM29 after waiting for nine years,” he said.

Bian said that he went to check with the company on the claims made by the landowners regarding the non-payment of the dividends.

He was shocked to know from the company, Boustead, Pelita and the government that the joint enterprise had a debt of over RM130 million.

“And there is no way they can pay dividends to the landowners,” he said.

Saturday, September 10

Govt trying to hoodwink landowners

KUCHING: A Sarawak PKR leader today accused the BN government of trying to hoodwink and mislead the indigenous communities so as to maintain their electoral support by saying that the declaration of native communal reserves is a confirmation and a statutory recognition of native ownership over their NCR land.

“There is no truth and substance in the statement of the lands and surveys that a declaration of native communal reserves is a confirmation and statutory recognition of native ownership over their NCR land,” said Ali Biju, vice-chairman of Sarawak PKR.

Ali, who is also the state assemblyman for Krian, was commenting on a statement issued by the lands and surveys which dismissed Ali’s earlier claim that the perimeter survey and the declaration of NCR land under section 6 of Sarawak Land Code as native communal reserves will downgrade the NCR land status.

“Contrary to Ali’s claims, rights over the land gazetted as communal reserve land was administered and regulated by the native system of personal law of the native communities concerned,” said the statement.

“This means the acquisition, usage, transfer or transmission of rights and privileges over land, buildings or any structure thereon shall be governed by the customary law of the native communities for whose benefit the communal reserve is declared.

“Lands within a native communal reserve are not held by the natives on trust for the government as alleged by YB Ali Biju.

“The native communities having a native communal reserve have control over their land and will also be able to detect and prevent any unlawful intrusion or encroachment upon their land because the gazette will describe clearly land within the declared native communal reserve and refer to an official plan to define the precise boundaries thereof,” said the statement.

In countering the statement, Ali said: “The BN government is trying to hoodwink and mislead the indigenous communities so as to maintain their electoral support by saying that a declaration and a statutory recognition of native ownership over their NCR land.

“There is no truth and substance in the statement of the lands and surveys,” he said.

Section 6 (3) of the land code which concerns native communal reserves provides that ‘such land (native communal reserves) shall continue to be state land, and the native community for whose use it was reserved or any member thereof acquiring any rights therein shall hold the same as a licensee from the government....’

Ali said: “There is no difference from the presently native in occupation of NCR land without a document of title, that they are ‘deemed to be holding by licence from the government’ according to section 5(1)(i) of Sarawak Land Code.

“The land code is in need of a total revamp, in view of the authoritative judicial interpretation and elucidation of the meanings and scope of NCR, to be of relevance and proper and legal application,” he said.

“The perimeter survey works carried out by the government is a relegation and unlawful confine of the NCR, benefiting only those ‘BNputras’ who are prying on NCR land for their own financial gains, through their control of state government and state machineries,” Ali claimed.

The perimeter survey is a project of Prime Minister Najib Razak to win over the hearts and minds of the native communities.

It was launched just before the state election in April when he announced an allocation of RM20 million to carry out the project.

Another RM60 million was added to the amount during the campaigning period.

There are more than 1.6 million hectares of NCR lands which were hot issues during the state election especially when the Opposition accused the government of taking away the lands and leased them to oil palm conglomerates and timber companies.

Unhappy landowners have sued the government. Currently there are more than 200 cases pending hearing in the High Court.

Tuesday, September 6

Pakatan Rakyat will abide by court decisions

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.