KUCHING: Sarawak DAP today warned that more and more frustrated landowners taking the law into their hands as the state government continued to take advantage of the law to take away native customary rights land from the natives.
“The clear example was an incident in Simunjan on March 13, 2012 when several machineries belonging to Tabong Haji were burnt down allegedly by angry native landowners,” said DAP Secretary Chong Chieng Jen.
“I think the administration of NCR land by the state government is appalling on the way it is dishing out land and giving it to crony companies of state assemblymen resulting in a lot of dissatisfaction and frustration.
“The government is using the law and amending it to its advantage and taking advantage over the native landowners.
“That is why nowadays there are demonstrations against the government in respect of their NCR land,” said Chong, who is the Kota Sentosa and MP for Bandar Kuching.
He said that there are more than 200 NCR land cases in court whereby the landowners are seeking claims on their NCR land, pointing out that going to court is not the way to solve the problem.
“The only way to solve the problem is to change the policy; otherwise we are seeing more and more frustrated landowners taking the law in their own hands.
“The clear example is the Simunjan case where by some machineries of Tabong Haji were burnt a few days ago,” he added, saying that the government was trying to cover up the incident and all the main stream media did not report it.
“I think this is not the way to solve the problems, because at the end of the day more conflicts and more unhappy incidents and even violence will happen. This is something we do not wish to see,” he said.
Chong was commenting on the failure of 65 landowners from Balai Ringin who wished to see the Director of Lands and Surveys at the Land and Survey Headquarters on Friday morning to find out the status their complaints.
Two months ago the same landowners met with the officers of Lands and Surveys regarding their land which they claimed was leased to companies without their knowledge.
“Today the same group came down to find out the status of the investigation when they received no response from the department.
“What happened is that we were stopped by the guards and were not allowed to enter the Land and Survey headquarters even when it was raining heavily.
“We were all drenched outside. And after waiting for more than three hours, we had no choice but to burst into the building. And only then a legal officer of the department came to see me and a few of the landowners,” said Chong.
He said that the director was not in and advised the landowners to write in making an appointment in one month’s time.
“I told him that one month is too long and the landowners will come back in two weeks’ time. They will campaign near the Land and Survey Headquarters until the director comes to see them,” he said.
During the meeting, Chong urged the officer to ask his department to issue a stop order against the companies from carrying out works in the affected NCR land.
The officer promised to look into it.
In January, some 50 landowners led by Augustine Bagat met with officials of the Lands and Surveys at its headquarters in Kuching urging the department to withdrawal the provisional leases on their land awarded to a number of companies having close links with the state government leaders.
One of the companies is allegedly owned by the former Kedup assemblyman, Frederick Bayoi Manggie.
His company is said to have been awarded 5,500 acres of land, the bulk of it is NCR land.