Thursday, April 29

Double summonses from the Police

On the night of 2 April 2010 between 8.00 pm and 10.00 pm I and my two sons were forced to park our cars along the roadside leading to the Spring as all the car parks were full that night. There were hundreds other cars parked outside.

It was the Good Friday night when many people went to the Spring after the prayers to do some shopping or to have some foods and drinks.

After food we returned and found that hundreds of cars were issued with traffic summons. My car and the cars of my two sons were also not spared.

Two days later I met my friend, a traffic officer who is the Head of Traffic based at the Police Headquarters, Kuching telling him of our little “problems” that we were forced to park our cars along the yellow line as the car parks were full that night.

“Why don’t you pass the summons to me so that I can help you reduce the fines?” the Police Officer told me.

Paying the fine is not a problem. It may cost us between RM50 and RM70 each.

“So why not!” I said to myself. After all, I know the Police Officer very well since the time he was still the Inspector.

Secondly, it has been a long time I have not stepped foot into the Police Headquarters where I worked for 22 years and 10 months. Going to the Police Headquarters would fill me with feelings of nostalgia.

Three days later I went to see him armed with a letter seeking for the reduction of fine. That was the usual practice.

After handing over the three summonses and the letter, he told me that he would keep them and let me know in a couple of days.

I would have thought my friend would state the amount on the summonses and return them to me for me to settle at the Simpang Tiga Police Headquarters.

I queried him why he has to retain the summons. His reply was that he has to enter into the system. During our time before, once the person brought the summon to a traffic officer, he would sign and state the amount in the summon. The officer would tell him to go to Simpang Tiga to pay the fines.

Three weeks later all the three of us received registered letters; two letters were addressed to our homes and another to son’s office as the car he used was the company’s car.

In each of the registered letters, there was another summon using Borang (Kaedah 5) accusing us “of reasonably suspected of having committed an offence under the Road Traffic Act 1987 (Act 333)” demanding us to pay the fines of RM30.00 within the stated time. We are again required to supply the driver’s particulars to the Police.

The letter was signed by Dato’ Abd. Aziz bin Yusof, SACII, Ketua Traffic Pasukan, Ibu Pejabat Polis, Bukit Aman.

Firstly, the Police Officer should not have sent the registered letter to the registered address of the car. In the case of one of my son, the address of the registered car is at the office where he works, because the car is a company car.

In that case, why should the Police demand us to give them the address stated in the driving licence?

Further more using registered letter will complicate things further. In my case, and in the case of my son, both of us were not in the house when the registered letters arrived. So the postman left note and asked us to pick the letter from the General Post office.

What the Police should have done is to send the letters using “On Government Service” envelopes. Common sense!

Any way let us learn two or three lessons from our experience.

(i) It is a waste of our time to appeal for the reduction of fines. Just go to Simpang Tiga and pay the fines whatever are the amounts.
(ii) The “new” Police traffic system will cause a lot of delays. No wonder there are thousands and thousands of unpaid traffic fines.
(iii) The “new” system makes small things big and troublesome.
(iv) It is high time that the traffic police use ICT so that traffic offenders can pay the fines “on line”. In this case, it is paperless.
(v) It appears that the Police are too detailed and concerned in dealing with minor traffic offences. There are bigger things they should do such as solving murders, robberies, snatching thefts, rapes, drug trafficking, and etc. - The Broken Shield


Sunday, April 25

Tajem’s message to the Ibans

SERIAN: An adviser to PKR and former deputy chief minister Datuk Daniel Tajem (pic below)warns the Iban community that they will lose their native customary rights lands if they continue to elect the State Barisan Nasional coalition in the coming State election.

“Many Ibans in other parts of Sarawak have already lost their lands and we will continue to loose our land, if the State Barisan continues to govern Sarawak.

“In Balai Ringin we are about to lose our lands, when four companies linked to Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud have been given provisional lease (PL) to plant oil palm in our lands.

“A total of 741,000 hectares of our NCR lands have been earmarked for this purpose,”
he said, adding that the land owners had protested, but to no avail.

In fact, he said, he and the land owners have written to UMNO to intervene and stop the State government from taking away people’s lands.

Tajem said: “Lands are our only assets. And if we lose our lands, we will lose everything. We will become landless people. We do not know where to go except to seek refuge and sleep under a bridge.

“Landless People who sleep under a bridge are a common sight in other countries. And this will happen to us, if we do not change the State government,” he said, when he opened the annual general meeting of PKR Sri Aman division on Saturday, 24 April 2010.

“We do not change Taib Mahmud, but what we must change is the state government. So we must be united and work hard to change the government and only then we can prepare a new programme of development,” he stressed.

Tajem went on to say that Pakatan Rakyat must aim to win at least 36 seats out of 71 in order to take over the administration of the state government.

“Even winning the state government alone is still not good enough; the Pakatan Rakyat must also take over and control the federal government, otherwise the federal government will make life unbearable in Pakatan-controlled states.

“Look how the federal government retook the Perak State government after the Pakatan had won it through the electoral process.

“Similarly what happened to Stephen Kalong Ningkan’s state government in late 1966, when he did not agree for expatriate officers in Sarawak to be replaced with Malayan officers?

“When Ningkan refused to resign, the federal government declared a state of emergency in Sarawak. Then the federal government amended the state constitution in order to give authority to the governor to dismiss Ningkan as chief minister,” said Tajem.

“Thus, it is also very important that the federal government be controlled by Pakatan Rakyat,” he added. – The Broken Shield


Friday, April 23

Reporters snubbed at CM press conference

Today (23 April 2010) should have been a happy day for PATA (Pacific Asia Tourism Association) conference when the Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud personally opened it at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK), but for a small incident that happened before the press conference.

The conference attended by more than 160 delegates throughout the pacific region will end on 27 April.

After the opening ceremony, the chief minister was supposed to meet some 30 members of the Press. While waiting for the chief minister to come, the pressmen had already seated themselves in the front, second and third rows of the chairs. A protocol officer by the name of one Junaidi told the reporters to leave the first three front rows empty so that VIPs could sit down listening to Taib talking to the Press people.

The reporters felt insulted and left the room and went outside. Later another protocol officer came looking for the Press people saying that the chief minister was waiting for them. But none of the reporters returned to the Press conference room. I am sure the chief minister must have felt awkward about the absence of the Pressmen. I am sure the organisers of the Press conference also felt likewise.

I remember in the 1970s when the Pressmen were insulted at a Police Mess function, which was attended by the Governor of Sarawak. The Pressmen were invited to cover the event, but there were no tables and chairs for them. They were told that foods and drinks would not be served to them. Embarrassed the reporters left the Mess function and walked out in full view of the Governor.

For six months or so, the reporters boycotted any news about the Police. They only wrote news that was critical of the Police.

During the time of Tunku Abdul Rahman as Prime Minister, the Press people were treated like VIPs. Usually in his function, Tunku Abdul Rahman made sure the tables number three, four and five be given to the Press people.

Nowadays VIPs, ministers, politicians, government officers and company directors take lightly the role played by the reporters and newspapers in our society. In fact every ministry or government department or big organisation should have a Press Liaison Officer or Public Relations Officer whose job is to deal directly with the Press.

Following the incident at the Police Headquarters, the Police realised the important role the Press played in the efforts to combat crime. So starting from September 1975, the Police started to have a Press Liaison Officer (PLO).

I was fortunate to be the first PLO with the Police department (after the ugly episode mentioned above), and during my time relationship between the department and Press was at its best in the next 20 years.

The PATA incident should therefore be a lesson to all. – The Broken Shield


Tuesday, April 20

The Kapit-Sibu Road - Is it gimmick?

The proposal to construct RM700-million Kapit-Sibu Road is not a political gimmick, says Michael Manyin, the newly appointed minister for infrastructure development.

“We have already the funds to carry it out. And tenders for the first phase will be out by the end of the year,” he said. The first phase is between Ngemah and Song.

Of course Manyin is trying to convince the people that the proposed construction of the Kapit-Sibu Road is not a political gimmick because he does not want the issue to be politicalised in the coming election by the opposition.

Can he blame people for harbouring such perception?

Like Pantu “Bridge”, this is the much-talked proposal of road construction. This year alone several ministers including prime minister and minister for rural development have given assurance that the road will be constructed. Last year, several ministers had talked about it. I lost account of the number of ministers talking about the proposed road.

In fact, for the past 47 years, the people have been talking about it and asking about it. The late Tun Jugah had asked for it, so were the late MP Miut Sibat, the former MPs Leonard Linggi Jugah and James Jimbun and the incumbent MP Alexander Nanta Linggi (grandson of Tun Jugah). The others who have asked for the road included Dr. James Masing, the former Council Negeri members such as Nuing Anak Kudi, Philimon Nuing, Felix Bantin, and etc.

There are also associations which also have been requesting for the road to be constructed. And yet until today we have heard of the proposal, but there is no implementation.

One of the reasons why the road has not been constructed is due to the fact there are no “economic activities”. We do not know what it means by “economic activities.”

Could it mean there are no valuable timbers, no large forests, no gold or coal mines? If there were forests with valuable timbers, gold or coal mines, I am certain that the powers that be would have built the road long time ago. And most probably such resources will be given to their families and cronies.

But now the government wants to build the road. Apparently there are “economic activities” now along the proposed road. And the “economic activities” could be large tracts of land – the Iban native customary rights lands along the way from Kapit, to Song, Ngemah, Kanowit and Sibu.

So the Ibans and other natives must beware that their NCR lands may be taken away from them like what has happened in other parts of the State. PELITA, a government agency, is watching the Iban lands. Together with big companies, PELITA will ask for a provisional lease (PL) from the authority through Land and Survey department to forcibly take away the lands and declare them as state lands.

If you say that lands are your NCR lands, then the burden of proof will be on the land owners. And in the process of defending your lands many of you will go to jail; your crops and fruit trees will be destroyed. Even longhouses and farm houses will be demolished. There are many examples on these cruel acts.

It is advisable for the land owners now to carry out survey of your own land before the proposed road passes through your area. Contact Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA) for advice and assistance. As the saying goes, ready your umbrella, before it rains.

But if there are no “prawns underneath the stone”, (no ulterior motive) then we should all welcome the construction of the road as more than 100,000 Ibans, other natives, Malays and Chinese will benefit.- The Broken Shield


Friday, April 16

SUHAKAM blames Land and Survey Department for land disputes

This story was published in Free Malaysia Today and is reproduced for the readers of The Broken Shield.

BAU: The Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) has put the blame on the Land and Survey Department for the constant occurrences of land disputes between the natives and the government in Sarawak.

Siva Subramaniam, head of SUHAKAM complaints working group said that the department simply issued land leases or titles to companies without conducting ground survey.

“Instead, the department gives approvals by merely sitting in the office,” he said at a dialogue with Kampung Stenggang.

He suggested that the staff of the department should conduct ground survey first before issuing land leases or titles to companies.

“It is improper and impractical for the department to approve land applications without checking. It is unbelievable, but unfortunately the present normal practice of the department is that it will give approvals based on the aerial photographs of the land acquired, and most of the time the information would be different from the actual land status,” he pointed out.

Of course the staff could not be wholly blamed because they executed their duties according to the existing procedures and regulations.

Partly to be blame, said Subramaniam, are the State lawmakers, the State assemblymen as they failed to rectify the Land Code.

“They should do something to prevent more land disputes from occurring. This is actually the root to the land issue problems that we are facing now.

“If the land policy is not going to be reviewed, I am worried that the indigenous people will gradually lose their native customary rights over their land.

“The problem here is the natives may have the rights over the land but every time if there is a dispute when other parties are being issued titles for the same plots of land, the natives will still lose their case because they don’t have the documents to prove that is their land,” he said.

Several people including the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Idris Jala have been calling on the state government to survey native customary rights land and issue titles to such land in order to solve the NCR land disputes.

Until now, the State government has not responded to the calls.

The dialogue was held following complaints by the villagers of Kampung Stenggang in Bau who have accused that the Land and Survey Department of allegedly “robbing” their native customary rights land and has leased them to a company without their knowledge.

The land which is about 1,986 hectares is within the vicinity of their village and the department has awarded provisional lease to a company.

They had lodged a complaint with several authorities including Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM).

They had also lodged a Police report against the illegal encroachment of their land which they had cultivated many rounds for generations since 1920.


Monday, April 12

Bau Bidayuhs are very angry

We have heard all this while about NCR lands owned by the Ibans, Kayans, Kenyahs, and Penans have been forcibly taken from them or their lands have been leased to companies without their knowledge.

This time the “robbery” happens to NCR lands belonging to the Bidayuhs from Bau, who are the most loyal supporters of the Barisan Nasional.

The following story is such a story of the predicament of the Bidayuhs in Bau. The story was first published in Free Malaysia Today and The Borneo Post and is published here for the readers of The Broken Shield.

KUCHING: The villagers of Kampung Stenggang in Bau have alleged that the Land and Survey Department of “robbing” their native customary rights land and has leased them to a company without their knowledge.

The land which is about 1,986 hectares is within the vicinity of their village and the department has awarded provisional lease to a company.

“Apparently this is an act of robbery and we are very angry upon learning of the news,” said village headman Motion Sodiep in a joint statement issued together with Carolus Joim Langis, the newly appointed chairman of a special task force to deal with the matter.

“We are furious because the Land and Survey director had given the said land to the said company without consulting us,” added Joim, pointing out that even the Penghulu in the kampung was not consulted.

They had lodged a complaint with several authorities including Human Rights Commission (Suhakam).

They had also lodged a Police report against the illegal encroachment of their land which they had cultivated many rounds for generations since 1920.

They said that department should have checked the status of the land and the historical background with the community leaders and elders of the village.

According to them, the director of the department had “quietly” given away their land to the company via letter of award dated 23 November 2009.

“Such letter was never extended to the village headman, to the Penghulu or even the district officer.

“It was extended only to his officer, Superintendent of Lands and Surveys and to the ministry.

“Such an act is tantamount to robbing the people of their land and indeed an abuse of administrative powers. We strongly condemn this act,”
they said.

The villagers would also consider taking legal action against the Land and Survey and the company.

Thursday, April 8

Pelik, tetapi benar (Strange, but true)

Can you believe that when you lodge a police report that you have been assaulted by a gangster, that you yourself are being arrested? And can you believe that one man in Abok, Pantu was arrested a few days ago after he was found felling trees in his own land – titled land?

These strange stories are not made up, but real, real stories. Read the following story which was first published by the Malaysian Mirror.

ULU BALINGIAN – Gangsters seem to be running the show on the current native customary land dispute between a logging company, Bitani Maju Sdn. Bhd. and the Iban community of Sungai Tepus, Ulu Balingian, Mark Bujang, Executive Director of Borneo Institute Research Malaysia (BRIMAS) alleged today.

He said a group of gangsters in 10 cars have been intimidating the natives ever since the natives set up a blockade on 12 March against the said logging company.

“A total of three police reports have been made against the company, but until today no action has been taken against the company or the gangsters who are currently roaming the area,” he said in a Press statement issued to The Malaysian Mirror.

Even though the blockade has been dismantled by the police, the natives, however, still continue with their protests.

“Members of the Iban community of Sungai Tepus, Ulu Balingian are protesting against the illegal logging activities conducted by Bitani Maju Sdn. Bhd. in their native customary land territory.

“Surprisingly, it is the police that are guarding the company workers carrying out their illegal logging operations,”
Mark claimed.

Last Saturday, two of the longhouse members from Rumah Osay were assaulted by a group of gangsters while they were on their way home from Selangau bazaar. One of them managed to flee but another was badly beaten up by the gangsters.

Mark said that Banyau Ak Timbang, one of the persons who managed to flee from the gangsters was riding together with Oren Ak Linggang from Selangau bazaar and as they were about to approach their longhouse junction, a car approached them.

“I noticed Penghulu Thomas Jawa Ak Latu was in the car and the driver of the car forced us to stop,” said Banyau.

“The other occupants of the car came out and we do not recognise them at all. We got into a heated argument with them and then suddenly they started attacking us”, said Banyau.
Banyau said he managed to escape from his attackers but Oren was left behind.

Oren lodged a police report on the attack at the Balingian Police Station the next day. However, instead of taking down his report, the police arrested him.

“The gangsters seem to be controlling the police and also our community leaders”, claimed Banggau ak Panggai, chairman of the joint action committee.

“Our communities are leaving in fear at the moment as the police cannot guarantee our safety. We do not want any untoward incident to happen, so we appeal to the police to take action and stop the gangsters from harassing us any further,” said Banggau. – The Broken Shield


Saturday, April 3

Masing new chairman of NCR Land task force

Land Development Minister James Masing (pic above) has taken over the chairmanship of Sarawak Task Force for NCR Land Development from Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu Anak Numpang effective today (2 April 2010).

Although Jabu’s supporters said he resigned from the chairmanship, it is understood, however that he has been relieved of the post.

Possible Reasons:
(a) Jabu has been the chairman of the task force since the state government started to have keen interest to venture into oil palm in the 1990s. Under his chairmanship, hundreds of provisional leases have been given to big companies to develop land including native customary rights land without the consent of the land owners. Disputes arise, therefore, between the land owners and the companies. There are now more than 200 cases of land owners suing the government and companies. So far land owners have won more than 20 cases.

(b) For the last two years, the task force seldom met, resulting in about 30 or more applications to plant oil palm have been left unattended. Some who are fed-up of waiting have withdrawn their applications. Masing did complain that the delay in approving the applications have stalled the development of oil palm in the State which has targeted one million hectares by this year.

(c) By right, Masing should be the chairman of the task force by virtue of the fact that he is the Minister for Land Development.

It is the hope of the land owners:
(i) that Masing should have better understanding of the plight and the concerns of the land owners. If the land owners do not want their land to be planted with oil palm, they should be left alone; if they want their land to be under joint venture scheme, then by all means bring them in. In this way, Masing can help minimize disputes between land owners and Pelita and companies.

(ii) that Masing should make sure the companies after receiving their provisional lease (PLs) do not bulldoze their way into people’s farms, destroying all the fruit trees, rubber trees, cash crops and sometimes their longhouses and farm huts.

(iii) that Masing should make sure that in the joint venture scheme, land owners be represented in the board of directors. Currently, the land owners are not represented in the board. LCDA or Pelita suppose to look after the land owners’ interest, but Pelita is like pagar “harapkan pagar, pagar makan padi.”

(iv) that Masing should also encourage NCR land owners to plant oil palm on a smallholding basis on their land very much like Rubber Planting Scheme A in the 1970s. Under this scheme, agricultural implements, fertilizers and subsidies were given to the smallholders. It has been noted that under smallholding the land owners benefit more than those who participated in JV or even under SALCRA. Every morning they earn between RM500 and RM1,500 a day as compared to dividends of RM300, RM500 or RM1000 per year. Very much different in term money earned.

Something for all of us to ponder! – The Broken Shield