Tuesday, February 28

Suhakam promises to help NCR land problems

SERIAN:  Incursions into native customary rights land including illegal feeling of rubber trees and fruit trees on the land form the most complaints the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) received on human rights violations in Sarawak, said Sarawak Suhakam Commissioner Detta Samen.

“Today we are conducting public hearing on the complaints by the native landowners to stand up and tell us their side of the story. An equal opportunity will be given to the corporate bodies and the government to respond to the so-called allegations,” he said.

The public hearing was chaired by Suhakam chairman Hasmy Agam with Samen and James Nayagam as panel members.

The team will also visit other towns and cities including Sibu, Miri and Bintulu for such hearing.

Samen said that the public got to understand that the public hearing was the second stage and the first stage was the public consultation that was held towards the end of last year.

“After we have done the public consultation, we are now doing the public hearing whereby the complainants are given the opportunity or a forum for them to stand up and tell us their side of the story.

“An equal opportunity will be given to the corporate bodies and government to response to the allegations,” he said.

Samen said that since there were so many NCR land complaints, it is not possible for Suhakam to solve these problems on a case by case basis.

“It is better for us to look at the overall picture and find out where exactly is the problem. It could be the problem of the government. It could be the problem of the contractor or it could be the problem of the natives themselves.

“So let us look this problem. This is what we are attempting to do,” he said, pointing out that this is the first time that Suhakam is conducting a national inquiry on land rights.

He said:  “After we heard the evidence and finished the hearing we will compile the reports and then we may be able to come up with some kind of recommendations or suggestions.

“These suggestions and recommendations will be given to the relevant ministries, to the state legislative assembly and parliament,” he said.

Asked why the government kept on issuing provisional leases to corporate bodies despite so many complaints, Samen said:  “The government has the right to issue PL to the contractors because the state needs to harvest the resources, but in the process of issuing the PL, there must be provision that communal forests or NCR land must be taken out of the forests.

“If you want to intrude into NCR land, there must be element of compensation, and this can only be done if there is a proper negotiation, proper dialogue between native communities and contractors and also the government agency.

“They can even approach Suhakam which can be the negotiator or arbitrator for the parties concerned.

“I don’t say there will be no problems upon negotiations. What I am saying there will be less problems.

“Yes Suhakam can help in the negotiation process,” Samen told FMT.

In Monday’s hearing, the common grouses by the natives are that their NCR land have been given away without their knowledge, their rubber trees, cash crops and fruit trees were illegally felled without compensation being paid,  and the natives are accused of being ‘outsiders’ and thus they are not allowed to enter their own land.

Breaches of agreement were also a common complaint when the companies refused to honour the agreements they made with the landowners.

Meanwhile, Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian has described land-grabbing of NCR land  as being ‘chronic’ spreading from Lawas in the north region to Lundu in the south.

More than 200 of NCR land cases have been filed by native landowners in the High Court and are awaiting hearing.


FairviewBetong said...

"Asked why the government kept on issuing provisional leases to corporate bodies despite so many complaints, Samen said: “The government has the right to issue PL to the contractors because the state needs to harvest the resources, but in the process of issuing the PL, there must be provision that communal forests or NCR land must be taken out of the forests."

I cannot agree less with the learned Mr. Samen. He is the most suitable person to hold the position.- Remember the key word PEMANSANG.

Although the bidayuh holds much lesser acerage of NCR land in the state, Suhakam by appointing Samen (a bidayuh) as its chief for sarawak must have had the blessing of the state government. Congratulations.

Suhakam or no Suhakam, the dayaks must stand firm behind our dayak leaders under the able and corrupt free leadership of YAB Tan Sri Alfred, YAB Tan Sri James, YAB Tan Sri William and Datuk Michael for the betterment of our politics and future.

We hope more dayaks would understand the sincerity of the Sarawak Government to develop their NCR Land.

Please vote BN in during the coming elections. Dum Spero Spiro.

Apai irau said...

Suhakam was set up many years ago.Suhakam has heard and and even condemned the government or its agencies for the land grabbing in Sarawak.But has the state government ever heed or complied with Suhakam's recommendations or reports all this while? NIL. Therefore,with due respect to Suhakam,i found that it serves no purpose.It has no enforcement or prosecuting power(if i am not wrong),and their reports or recommendations will fall into deaf ears and consequentially,the government will dis-regard their reports or recommendations.The only way Suhakam might be of some help is that their findings might could be used by lawyers to substantiate their case,as courts do need third party's opinions in some cases.Be that as it may,it is known that Suhakam has a genuine intention to safeguard the natives rights over their NCR land or at least create a win-win situation.

Anonymous said...

I don't think SUHAKAM has the necessary powers to help the Dayaks over their grouses caused by what they consider as the loss of their NCR and or ancestral land really. Land is a state matter. The State Government under CM Taib has the absolute control of State Assembly which is a body that makes laws on State Matters including Land. And PBB which has solid numbers in the Dewan can dictates which way the laws of Sarawak will get going.

On the other hand the Dayaks are too poor to be able to mount any strong resistence against any policy implementation by CM Taib, including unfortunately his granting of land and forest licences to whomsoever he wishes, and over whichever land. The land laws have been amended in recent years to twart any such government policy implementation. NCR rights have to be proved. And this element of proof is the very thing, the absence of it, can cause failures in any suit brought by the people.

Granted in the recent history many court cases have been returned with positive verdicts. But let not forget: you can win your court case but the government will use the court process to frustrate it until the people will be fed up and when their meagre resources are depleted they will pursue it no more sTATE gOVERNMENT KNOWS THIS. And even after a case has gone over the epic court in the land, Federal Court of Appeal, even if the decision is maintained in favour of the peoples that brought it, the government and companies will not pay up or leave the land behind. State Government is too powerful. And in this context we should look at the case of a timber company against Menteri Besar, Pahang. Until now the state government has refused to pay up on the court order even. This has gone on for more than 10 years now and to the extent the plaintiff has recently wanted to self imolate as a form of protest.

On our shore I think I am correct to say that none of the many court cases that have been won has been favoured with any payment regarding compensation ordered by court. I might be wrong as to that fact but I do know that CM Taib is much more resolute than Menteri Besar Pahang. Acting as Sultan without a crown but more powerful than one, he never like anybody to disobey him and bringing a case to court against his issued licenses beit timber or plantation land to his cronies is to him an affront against his authority. And he will make sure that she/he will not succeed.

So I would say that, with respect to Detta Samen of SUHAKAM, the orgainisation he is appointed commissioner of, one of the many, is powerless when it comes to dealing with any matter under the purview of the State Government under CM Taib. So don't waste time.

Anonymous said...

SUHAKAM may not help much for the Dayak. They already heard for the cases for so long.Supporting our leaders also useless, they can't even speak for their right of their own people. Why 200 cases still remain unsolved until now? Any of our dayak leaders from BN dare to fight for the cases? If they do then we can say worth to support them. If they don't, dear all fellow dayaks it is time to reject them all in the coming GE13.