(Taken from Free Malaysia Today)
January 30, 2012
Within the next '10 years or less' several thousand natives in Sarawak are likely to end up being landless vagrants if the current government's policies continue.
KUCHING: Alleged land grabs involving native customary rights (NCR) properties by the Taib Mahmud-led government is reaching such “chronic” proportions that “in 10 years or less” there will be no native-owned areas, claims a prominent Sarawak NCR lawyer.
According to Baru Bian, an increasing number of cases of NCR land grabs are being reported from as far interior as Lawas in the north and Lundu in the south of Sarawak.
“From Lawas to Lundu, the NCR lands have been grabbed by the state Barisan Nasional government.
“It is so chronic that in 10 years or even less, the native landowners will have no more land left for them to farm and earn a living. And we are talking about several thousand natives being deprived of their land.
“They will therefore be forced out of their land and moved to cities and towns as their land has been given to oil palm and timber companies under the so-called provisional leases,” said Bian, who is the Ba’Kelalan assemblyman.
He said that in the cities and towns, these people will become vagrants living under bridges and becoming illegal squatters. Soon, they will create a new set of social problems.
“Already many have become scavengers and are involved in crimes and drugs. This is our main worry as they pose social problems.
“If the current government’s policy is not changed, and if the people keep on supporting the BN, this is going to be the reality,” he said.
Bian said since the state election in April, more than 50 NCR cases had surfaced and are waiting to be filed in court.
Challenge to debate Taib
Already more than 200 NCR land-grabbing cases are pending hearing in the High Court here.
“The number of new NCR land cases is really shocking.
“More and more natives are coming to see us with their complaints that their land have been taken away from them.
“But the government denies this. It says it never grabbed NCR land.
“And if it continues to say so, then my challenge to Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud for an open debate is still there,” said Bian.
Bian had, in February last year, challenged Taib to debate the opposition’s allegations of land grabs by the government.
Initially, Taib was ready to accept the challenge if Bian could show strong evidence to support his allegation that the government had seized NCR land.
Bian was ready with proof but the debate did not materialise as some leaders of Taib’s Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) said that Bian was not equal to Taib in stature and was not “even” an elected representative.
On April 16 last year, Bian won the Ba’ Kelalan state seat defeating BN-Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) candidate Willie Liau by 473 votes.
With the win, Bian, who is also Sarawak PKR chairman, is in a better position to debate with Taib.
“My challenge for an open debate with the chief minister is still on.
“And I insist we debate with the number one (man), that is, the chief minister himself,” said Bian.