Thursday, September 30

Naroden the biggest taker of NCR land

KUCHING: Naroden bin Majais, assistant minister of planning and resource management, who denied that the government has never taken native customary rights land from the people, has now been identified as the biggest taker of native customary right land leased by the government in Simunjan.

“Naroden is a blatant liar to say that the government has never taken NCR land from the people, because he himself through eight companies is the biggest taker of NCR land,” said Nicholas Mujah, Secretary General of Sarawak Dayak Iban Association.

He was reacting to remarks by Naroden that the government has never taken NCR land from the people.

Mujah said: “In fact Naroden himself is among Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud’s cronies who have been given large areas of NCR land in and around Gedong and Simunjan for the planting oil palm.

“He is the one colluding with the companies,” he said, pointing out that according to the 2005 Report of Land and Survey Department, Naroden had shares in eight companies operating in Simunjan and Gedong areas.

Many of the people who become victims of this land grabbing are Ibans and Malays, some of them not only are his supporters, but also his relatives, he said.

Naroden is the state assemblyman for Simunjan.

According to the 2005 Reports of the Land and Survey Department, a total of 16,486 hectares of land, the bulk of it is NCR land has been given to the assistant minister’s companies, namely:

#1) Pelita Nirwana Muhibbah S/B given lease to develop 4,555 hectares of land at Tanjong Midin, Serian;

#2) Gedong Plantation S/B given lease to develop 3,770 hectares at Lot 2981, Batang Karang, Gedong;

#3) Gedong Plantation S/B given lease to develop 3480 hectares at Lot 2980, Gedong;

#4) Hydroflow S/B was given 2182 hectares at Lot 1226 at Batang Sadong;

#5) Hydroflow S/B was given 593 hectares at Lot 1227 at Lubuk Teba, Gedong;

#6) Indranika Jaya S/B was given 189 hectares at Lot 1228 at Tanjung Embang, Simunjan; and

#7) Indranika S/B was given 1717 hectares at Tanjung Sap, Simunjan.

Mujah said that some of the Malays in Gedong, some of them are his relatives are suing Melor Gemilang for taking away their land. Naroden is alleged to have shares in the company.

“These are what you know, but there are more companies you do not know,”
said Mujah, who is also a member of the steering committee of Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (Malaysian network of indigenous people).

He cited an example of Orang Asli where their lands have been taken by the previous government of Selangor; but after a Pakatan government took over, the government revoked the case of Sagong Tasi against Government and returned the land to the owners.

“I stand to be challenged in court to prove my point that Naroden has some shares in these companies,” Mujah said, and urged the assistant minister to revoke all the pending NCR land cases in the court in order to save people’s time, money and worry.

Mujah said that Naroden was reported to be the richest man in Simunjan because of the oil palm so much so that he is locally known as the “king of oil palm in Simunjan.”

“How can he tell lie when there are more than 200 court cases whereby the natives are suing the government for taking away their land?"

All these cases are still pending in court, he said.

Commenting on the same issue, Baru Bian, a prominent NCR lawyer said a thief will never admit he is a thief nor a robber will admit he is a robber.

“The 200 cases in court is a proof that the government has been issuing provisional lease and logging licences and other licences covering NCR land.

“Naroden is known to be associated with many companies with provisional leases for oil palm plantations and he is believed to be a nominee for Chief Minister, so I don’t expect him to admit that the government is taking away NCR land,”
he said.

Saturday, September 25

Baginda: Demolish also Dayak ministers’ longhouses

A Parti Keadilan Rakyat leader, Baginda Anak Minda has accused the state government of destroying fruit trees, rubber trees and cash crops as well as longhouses situated in so-called state land.

Baginda said a number of longhouses and farm houses in Miri and Bintulu divisions that have no titles have been demolished.

All lands whether they NCR land with no titles are state land. This has been made very clear by Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, second minister of planning and resource management, said Baginda at Rumah Rangong, Ulu Niah.

Baginda was accompanying Azmin Ali, vice president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat to the longhouses. About 400 people were present.

Baginda called on Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud who is also the first minister of planning and resource management not only to demolish longhouses belonging to the poor people; he should also give instructions to Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, second minister of planning and resource management to destroy longhouses belonging to James Masing, Ng. Majau, Kapit, William Mawan Ikom in Pakan, Stephen Rundi in Sebauh, Bintulu and other Iban YBs.

“Their longhouses are also built on land having no title and are therefore state land and they are also illegal squatters. Why are Taib Mahmud and Awang Tengah only destroying longhouses belonging to people like Nyawin and Nor anak Nyawai? They are poor people,” Baginda said.

“Don’t ask poor people to climb nibong and ask rich people to climb pinang,” Baginda said, trying to stress the meaning in English.

There are more than 6,000 longhouses which are built on land the government claims to be state land.

And any time the government wants the land all these longhouses have to be demolished.

Check whether your longhouse is built on land that has title or not, otherwise your longhouse can be the next to be demolished. – The Broken Shield.

Wednesday, September 22

Snowdan to Ibans: don’t abandon BN

KUCHING: The Iban community should not and could not afford to abandon the State Barisan Nasional in the coming state election otherwise they will suffer and be left behind in various fields of endeavour.

The terse warning came from the state assemblyman for Balai Ringin Snowdan Lawan at a dinner organised by the Siol Kandis branch of Sarawak Dayak National Union last night.

“We will suffer if we abandon the State Barisan Nasional. This is because the state Barisan has been in Sarawak for nearly 50 years and has good track records.

“To me the state BN government is just like a university. It is just like Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard universities, and the older they are the more prestigious and famous they become.

“So is the State Barisan Nasional which is not only well known, famous and prestigious, but it has also a good track records in terms of developing the state,”
he said, urging them not to listen to certain quarters which wanted to introduce new ideas and bring changes to the state.

Snowdan’s remarks were an obvious response to the recent call made by Sarawak Parti Keadilan Rakyat, Baru Bian, for a change in the government in the state.

Bian had said that their forefathers had agreed to join Sabah, Singapore and Malaya to form the Federation of Malaysia because they had high hopes that Sarawak would one day enjoy greater economic development, prosperity and security.

“But for 47 years under the Barisan Nasional, their dreams and visions had not been achieved. This was because Sarawak was neglected by the Barisan Nasional.

“We must therefore change the current leadership and replace it with the Pakatan Rakyat government,”
Bian had said.

Snowdan, who is Parti Rakyat Sarawak’s deputy secretary general said: “It will be a fatal mistake, if you support the opposition; it is just like building a new university which records are uncertain and it will take at least 50 years to achieve the desired results.

“What we should do is for us to replace the lecturers if they are not good rather than getting rid of the university and build a new one.

“So I appeal to you not to change the State BN government and opt for the inexperienced Opposition or we will suffer in the next 50 years,”
he stressed.

The opposition could only promise new ideas and changes, but the Ibans had to be wary of their sweet talks, he added.- The Broken Shield

Saturday, September 18

Sarawak asks for new deal

This story was first published in Free Malaysia Today and is re-edited for the readers of The Broken Shield)

KUCHING: Sarawak Parti Keadilan Sarawak calls for a new deal to reinstall the rights, the opportunities and the privileges of Sarawakians in the Malaysian agreement as the dreams and visions of its forefathers for better Sarawak have not been achieved.

“The dreams and visions of Sarawak’s forefathers in agreeing to form the federation of Malaysia 47 years ago have not been achieved,”
said its chairman Baru Bian.

Our forefathers had agreed for Sarawak to join Sabah, Malaya and Singapore to form the federation of Malaysia, because they believed that Sarawak would enjoy greater economic development, prosperity and security.

“But today, it is sad to note that the dreams and visions of our forefathers have not been fulfilled,”
he stressed at a dinner attended by PKR leaders both from Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia.

The dinner was organised in conjunction with the visit of PKR national leaders as well as to welcome the Malaysia Day celebration.

“We are far behind other states in terms of development. We may pride ourselves that we have the tallest building in the world, yet we are not able to provide simple houses to our people.

“We are proud in that we are able to produce the various types of proton cars, yet we do not have good roads in Sarawak.

“We spent hundreds of millions in order to send a man to space, yet we are not able to provide satisfactory medical services to the people of Sarawak,”
Bian lamented, pointing out that the list goes on and on.

“So I ask my self whether I am happy or not to celebrate Malaysia Day today. I am happy that the federal government has finally agreed to recognise that 16 September is the Malaysia Day.

“For us in Sarawak, it is a very significant day. But on the other hand, I am unhappy because the dreams and visions of our forefathers have not been fulfilled,”
he added.

“What this means to us is that we must bring changes to the State; the need to change the current leadership in Sarawak.

“We all know that the chief minister is the richest man in Malaysia with billions of ringgit worth of properties overseas. We know that Sarawak is the richest state in Malaysia. Yet our people are the poorest in the whole of Malaysia. This is the kind of leadership that we must change.

“Once the current leadership is changed, we must have a new deal, a new agreement for Sarawak in the federation of Malaysia.

“We need to discuss with the federal government a new agreement over oil royalty and a new policy to recognise our rights over land and many more as mentioned in the 20 or 18 points agreement.

“We have national leaders present at the dinner to night and we want them to know what the state wants,”
he said.

Food for Thought

During the celebration of Malaysia Day on 16 September) the obvious absence from the gathering at the stadium perpaduan in Petra Jaya was Abdul Taib Mahmud, chief minister of Sarawak. Why was he not present? Has he no respect for the most important and significant day in the history of Sarawak?

It was not a trivial matter. It has to do with the question of loyalty to the state.

On the other hand, Sarawak United People’s Party which was vehemently against the formation of Malaysia was ironically the one which was the leader in ushering the Malaysia Day.

And the Dayaks especially Ibans who were responsible for the formation of Malaysia were not accorded the privilege and the right. They are being considered in any government form as “lain-lain”.

If the Ibans did not support the formation of Malaysia, there would be no Malaysian federation now.- The Broken Shield.

Tuesday, September 14

Granda Aing slams Manyin for “stupid” statement

KUCHING: A leader of Sarawak Parti Keadilan Rakyat has described as most “stupid and senseless” a suggestion by a state minister who wants the Bidayuhs to move to town even if they are paid lowly.

A PKR vice chairman Granda Aing said that by asking them to move out of their villages “is tantamount to putting the general Bidayuhs to become coolies, waiters and waitress earning a salary below the poverty line.”

Aing, a Bidayuh from Bau, was reacting to a statement made by Michael Manyin, State minister of infrastructure development and communication.

Last Tuesday Manyin, who addressed Kampung Krusen Bidayuhs, told them to leave their villages and go to towns for jobs in the towns in order to improve their livelihood.

“If they are unwilling to do so, they may be left far behind by other communities.

“Even if they have to struggle now it does not matter as it would provide their children the right exposure to improve themselves in the future,”
Manyin had said, citing the Kelabits from the Bario Highlands as the best example.

“That is the most stupid advice coming from a minister,” said Aing.

What the government should have done is to increase the wages of the Bidayuh workers in Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Salcra) from RM8.00 or RM10.00 per day per worker to RM30.00 per day in its oil palm plantations.

“Why can’t you pay Bidayuhs RM30.00 per person when you pay Indonesian workers RM30.00 each?” he asked.

“That does not make sense. Does it?” Aing asked, pointing out that the government must look and revamp Salcra.

He warns: “If you leave your villages, the State government will take away your native customary rights land and lease it to its cronies for the planting of oil palm.

“By the time you return home, you have no more land left. I think the minister has been asked to say it, because lands in the Bidayuh villages are good for the oil palm cultivation,”
he said.

The minister should not compare the Bidayuhs with the Kelabits, as most Bidayuh villages are nearby to towns, while the Kelabits a far away in the highlands.

“What the minister should have done is to get more roads and basic amenities implemented in the rural areas.

“Help them to plant cash crops in their land so that they can generate more incomes in order to sustain their life in the villages,”
he said.

What Granda Aing said is correct. Look at some of the Iban small holders involved in the planting of oil palm. Many are earning between RM3,000 and RM10,000 a month. There are many examples of these successful farmers along the Serian/Sarikei Road. And their incomes much are better than those who allowed their land to be used by Pelita and other private companies. Some have not been paid any dividends even after 10 years of operation.

SALCRA is still better than all these Pelita-linked companies. But still compared to small holdings whereby you plant oil palm in your own land, and do it yourself the income is much better than the income of those who joined Salcra.

Food for thought. – The Broken Shield

Saturday, September 11

Dayaks do not trust BN over NCR land?

KUCHING: In the coming state election, issues regarding native customary rights land are certain to be exploited by both the Opposition and Barisan Nasional parties.

Already the government has taken the initial step in order to gain advantage of the situation when Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak announced an allocation of RM20 million to carry out as a “first step” to do perimeter survey of some 1.5 million hectares of NCR land in the state. Starting from the end of the year, it is an obvious part of the government’s strategy in order to minimize its exploitation by the Opposition.

The Opposition Pakatan Rakyat is aware of the government’s strategy in trying to win back the hearts and minds of the people especially the natives who own the NCR land. But the natives are no longer fool as the problems have been there for about three decades. Nor do they believe what the BN leaders have promised them any more.

Now they start to ask questions and want to know more about the government’s plan. For example, what exactly does Najib mean by "as a first step to do perimeter survey of NCR land"? Does he mean the communal land boundary, that is, what the Ibans described as the "antara" or "garis menoa" (communal land boundary) of a longhouse or between the longhouses?

“If that is the case, it includes the longhouse area, their burial ground, tembawai (old longhouse sites), temuda and kebun (farming) areas and the pulau (communal forests) areas as well.

“That is what the courts have decided on the extent or boundary of the NCR land of the longhouse and that is also what we have asked to be gazetted all along,”
said NCR land lawyer Harrison Ngau.

For the Baram district, there are two books called, "Register of Land Boundaries" kept at the District Office at Marudi which recorded in sketch maps or descriptions the communal land boundaries between the longhouses in Baram which records started during the time of the Brookes and British Colonial Administrations in Sarawak.
“I have filed in court for a copy of the Registers in one of my cases, but the trial of that case has not started. The Sarawak Government argues that the recording of the land boundaries in the Register is only an administrative act which does not have any legal force or is not evidence of the Government accepting, recognising or granting NCR over the lands within the land boundaries recorded.
”The Registers have to be read together with the Secretariat Circular No. 12 of 1939 issued by the then Chief Secretary to the Rajah which, inter alia, directed that Village Council has to be established in the villages or longhouses to assist the Ketua Kampung to administer the village or longhouse and to determine or fix, record and report the communal land boundary of the longhouse to the District Office.
In the Suai, Niah and Sibuti areas, there is a map or plan in the Land and Survey Department in Miri called "Composite Plan Showing Distribution of Native Farming Land in Suai Niah and Sibuti" which records the communal land boundaries of the longhouses in the said areas and which records was compiled by the District Office Miri and Niah also during the Brookes and British Administrations. I have a copy of the map/plan and am using it in my cases now pending trial.
”I have also seen similar records of communal land boundaries shown to me by one or two longhouses in Sebauh, Bintulu which they said they obtained from the Sub-District Office in Sebauh.
”Thus, if Najib and the Sarawak Government are really serious and sincere in surveying and gazetting the perimeter of NCR lands, they, in my view should refer to and gazette the communal land boundaries based on these records of communal land boundaries. In cases where the communal land boundaries have not been recorded, then survey and gazette the communal land boundaries which have existed or been established between the longhouses. The survey should be jointly carried out by the Land and Survey Dept and the longhouse residents,” Harrison said.
But if Najib and the Sarawak Government only survey and gazette perimeter of temuda areas, that is, temuda based on aerial photos taken after 1.1.1958 (that is based on government legal counsel, J.C. Fong's interpretation of what is NCR), their proposal will not resolve the NCR problem and that would be contrary to what the courts have decided and it is also not what we wanted or have asked them to do.
In any case, will Najib and the Sarawak Government dare to revoke or withdraw logging licences, Licences For Planted Forests and leases over NCR lands issued to big companies for oil palm plantations which were all signed, approved or issued by Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud and Awang Tengah both as First and Second Ministers of Planning and Resource Management respectively?

This will be the RM100 million question!
Awang Tengah in his statement in the last few days has also stated that the Land and Survey will first determine the boundary between NCR land and State land. Only then will the perimeter survey of NCR land as announced by Najib be surveyed on the ground.
This shows that the Land and Survey which will determine where is the boundary between NCR land and State land, not the people of the longhouses. Will the Land and Survey determine the boundary based on the decisions of the courts which uphold “antara or garis menoa or sempadan” (communal land boundary) as the extent or boundary of NCR lands?

Most likely not as the Land and Survey keeps on telling people, government officials and the community leaders in their seminars that NCR land is restricted to temuda only. This is contrary to the decisions of the courts and the sempadan of our longhouses made or recorded by the Brookes and the British Administrations before.
On the survey and issuance of individual titles over NCR lands within the communal land boundary of the longhouse, it is just the next process to be done after surveying and gazetting the communal land boundary (the 1st step).

As the NCR issue is a very important issue for all the natives, they should continue to press this issue ahead. The BN now feels their support from the natives may start disintegrating or declining as a result of the NCR issue. That is why they have to say and try to be seen doing something on this now all because of the coming Sarawak State election.
The fact that they said the mechanism to set up the survey etc will start at the end of this year is fishy because by then the State election may be over and if they win again there is no guarantee they will honour what they have promised as what we all have bitterly learnt many times before.
In the last few weeks, the BN elected representatives have signed and sent letters to the Land and Survey Department in support of the longhouse folks in their NCR claims against the companies whereby they asked the lands claimed by the longhouse folks be excluded from the leases issued to the companies.

Some of these letters were produced by the longhouse folks in the courts but the courts have said the letters are useless as the Government or Land and Survey Dept have not agreed or accepted what the BN elected representatives have said or proposed in the letters.

So these BN elected representatives just do anything in order to be seen doing something to get votes from the longhouse folks as the election is coming soon. As BN elected representatives, they should get Taib and Awang Tengah their own bosses and who are the Ministers who signed or approved the leases to the companies to revoke these leases or exclude the NCR lands of the longhouse folks from the leases.
But they do not do it because they are afraid of Taib and the big companies. Anyway, it is public knowledge that the big companies who give election funds to Najib, Taib and the BN during the elections. So will they dare to act against the interests of these big companies? – The Broken Shield

Thursday, September 9

Another blatant disregard for the natives

KUCHING: Sahabat Alam Malaysia (Friends of the Earth) has condemned the State Government of Sarawak on reneging on its pledges to help the Penan community to live a new way of life.

“Despite their pledges contained in a memorandum signed last year between the Penans and the government, the government has completely failed to honour them,” said S. M. Mohamed Idris, SAM President in a statement emailed to FMT.

The five pledges were:

#1) to make an effort at bringing Penan Community leaders to meet with higher authorities in order to discuss on matters concerning their land and traditional territories;
#2) to make an effort at bringing the Penan community’s application for the construction of kindergartens and primary schools at each Penan longhouse to the appropriate authorities;

#3) to increase the number of community leaders for the Penan communities;
#4) to make an effort at introducing agricultural activities that are suitable for the Penan communities; and

#5) to make an effort at obtaining financial allocations for the housing and healthcare needs of the Penan community.

These pledges were a counter-proposal to the demands made by the Penans which included to stop all logging operations and encroachment on their NCR land to avoid starvation among their people because of shortage in forest resources; the government to acknowledge their NCR status upon their land and recognise their boundary; to allow them to decide about their developments that involve their NCR land; and for companies to respect their rights to their ancestral land and way of life.

“We are troubled by the fact that in spite of the revised and water-down contents of the memorandum of understanding, the State government has yet to fulfill any of the pledges to assist the Penan community a year later,” said Idris.

He said that compounding the matter is the fact that in the months following the signing of the MoU, YB Lihan Jok, state assemblyman for Telang Usan was quoted in news daily in December that the State government wanted the Penan community to relocate to a government resettlement site similar to the Sungai Asap Resettlement project.

The newspaper quoted him as stating that the demands in the MoU will only be fulfilled if the community agreed to being relocated to the site.

“Apparently, the state government wanted the Penan community to stop living a semi-nomadic life and to settle in one place with jobs in rubber plantations and only then will plots of land be provided for them.

“Following this SAM has written to the state authorities to request them that consultations should be conducted to inform the community of this plan, but to date there has been no response.

“Also perplexing the community is the question of RM2.7 million government allocation of Penan housing as announced by Miri Resident, Dr. Ngenang Janggu in the Borneo Post on 18 September 2009,”
he said.

In relation to the symbolic event, the Sarawak Penan Association (SPA) has rightfully asserted that the state government cannot continue to act and function in such a non-transparent governance process that is, uninterested in community consultations and information disclosure.

Idris said: “We also strongly support the SPA in its position that the community cannot be forced or threatened to move from their rightful home. The right to livelihood and property is a right protected by the Federal constitution.

“We believe that the poor governance system is Sarawak pertaining to forestry, land and NCR matters has long needed some major transformative changes. We therefore believe that fulfilling of the people’s demands this time around and a serious study on all their existing grievances will be a right step in this direction,”
he said.

Meanwhile, more than 150 Penan villagers from Sg. Layun, Apoh, Tutoh and Patah gathered in Kpg. Long Nen and Long Belok to stage symbolic blockades in commemoration of their one year blockade anniversary on 2 September 2010 which brought the logging industry to a halt.

At 7.00 am on that day the villagers from Long Nen, Long Belok, Long Sayan, Long Kevok, Long Bangan and Ba’ Marong with banners while holding placards across logging roads to reinstate their demands which were unfulfilled by the government despite signing the letter agreeing to them in a memorandum of understanding (MoU).

The blockade erected last year which lasted for more than a month from August to September was compelled by the apathy shown by the state government towards the communities and their native customary rights (NCR).

Their land has been continuously plundered by logging and oil palm companies despite the strong opposition displayed by the communities over the last three decades.

Following the setting up of blockades last year, the Penans from Long Nen and Long Belok issued the four sets of demands to the state authorities.

In response, the Telang Usan assemblyman turned up at the blockade site and instead of listening to the genuine demands of the Penans pressured them into agreeing to the government’s pledges to assist them.

Until today, none of the pledges has been fulfilled.

Wednesday, September 8

Blatant disregard for Native rights

SEBUYAU: A group of villagers headed by activists Nicholas Mujah and Numpang Anak Suntai has accused the Forest Department of blatant disregard for their customary rights over their ‘pulau galau’ (communal forest) situated between Sungai Sebangan and Sungai Sebuyau when it refuses to suspend a licence issued to a logging company.

“The department has been informed by the Land and Survey department through a letter that the area is confirmed to be native customary rights land.

“Yet the forest department does not take action against the company, the quality concrete holdings, which continues to log trees in the communal forest,”
said Mujah, who is secretary general of Sarawak Dayak Iban Association in a letter of complaint to SUHAKAM.

“The logging activities have destroyed a large number of our rubber and fruit trees and cash crops,” he said, pointing out that such activities will also disturb their shrines, graveyards and their sources of incomes.

He said: “The logging activities will also pollute the people’s source of drinking water as well as disturbing the habitat of some of the protected animals such as the proboscis monkeys, orang utan, hornbills, deer and peacock.”

The area is also the home of some of the rarest species of timber such as belian (iron wood) and selangan batu which fetch up to RM4,000 a tonne.

Five longhouses namely Kampung Entangor, Kpg. Sungai Ijok, Kpg. Arus, Kpg. Tungkah Dayak and Kpg. Ensika are directly affected by the logging activities.

“All these are clear violation of the rights of the villagers and environmental hazards” he said, calling on SUHAKAN to carry out an immediate investigation into the violation of human rights by the Forest Department and the company.

Meanwhile, SADIA has also received complaints that certain Penghulu and longhouse chiefs had allegedly received some “kickbacks” from the company for their cooperation.

“If this is true, then both the company and longhouse chiefs have committed corruption,” he said and urged the Resident Office of Kota Samarahan to investigate the claim.

His group, he said, would lodge a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to investigate the giving and receiving of “kickbacks” as well as against the Forest Department for refusing to suspend the licence it issued to the company.

The trouble between Quality Concrete Holdings and the natives began in April this year when the company received a licence from the Forest Department to log timber in 3,305 ha of communal forests in Bukit Salbu, Bukit Birut, Bukit Bederi, Bukit Bekutu, Bukit Ijok and Bukit Sandong.

Despite their protests and blockades, the company and the forest department continue to bulldoze their way to the communal forest.

The licence is expected to expire by the end of the year.

Sunday, September 5

The Sunday Star headline: Give us our due

Quoted by The Sunday Star, SUPP president George Chan said in Miri that the Chinese community cannot remain silent anymore about their unhappiness with issues that affect them.

They have to be more vocal and demanding and he hoped the government would give the people what is due to them and correct any unfairness.

Chan said he would convene a meeting with SUPP leaders to discuss their next course of action to fight for the rights of the Chinese and their position in the local political scene.

“We must not be afraid to speak our minds any more. We must correct any injustice and unfairness and not remain silent, if you feel that there are things that are not right and that the Chinese are not getting their due, join us SUPP and get things corrected.

“We must let the government know what we feel. I am sure the government will not deny what is due to the Chinese,”
he said.

Suddenly Chan and SUPP are very vocal. They have to otherwise they will be wiped out in the coming state election. The writing is already on the wall.

By the way, the way Chan said his piece, as if the government has not helped them. Look at its representation at the federal level, it has five MPs consisting of one full minister, two deputy ministers, and at the state level, it has two ministers, and five assistant ministers, a number of political secretary and mayors.

Many of its cronies have been given timber concessions and provisional leases to plant oil palm in Dayaks’ native customary rights land.

Sibu, Sarikei, Miri and certain parts of Kuching are “owned” by SUPP where its cronies are given huge government contracts.

The question here is: Is SUPP effective in looking after the interests of the Chinese? The answer is “yes” and “no”.

Yes, it has helped many of the elite Chinese businessmen, and during almost 30-year of Abdul Taib Mahmud’s chief ministership, some 2,000 Chinese have become billionaires, not millionaires, but billionaires, and hundreds of Chinese big companies have become rich overnight.

No, thousands of small Chinese contractors have closed shops as there are no businesses for them. Small and big businesses have been taken by SUPP’s cronies. These “small” men in the Chinese community are blaming SUPP for its failure to help them. Many Chinese are landless, and SUPP cannot help them. Judging by the mood on the ground, they are certain to teach SUPP a lesson in the coming election. SUPP leaders know about it. That is why SUPP leaders threaten to quit BN, hoping that BN under Najib at federal and under Taib at state levels will do something. They are now like a cry baby.

But do you think they will quit? But to me, quitting or no quitting SUPP is in a quandary. Quitting from BN like “mati apai” (like the death of a father) and staying put in BN like “mati indai” (like the death of a mother).

This is where the Dayaks can come in and play smart politics. Like the Chinese, the Dayaks should also make demands. For the past 44 years or so, the Dayaks have been neglected no roads, no electricity and no clean water to their longhouse. For the past 44 years, our cries have felt on deaf ears. Kapit for example has no road connection with other towns in Sarawak. Only now we have heard about the promise to build roads.

To win in Sarawak, BN will have to rely on the Dayaks. Do not be too na├»ve and be satisfied to receive only RM30.00 in exchange for your votes and suffer the next five years. Think of your children’s future. Think of your native customary rights land. And if Taib continues to ignore us, we also vote him out. The power is in our hands. – The Broken Shield.


Saturday, September 4

Sarawak DAP expresses shocks

(This story was first published by Free Malaysia Today and it is reproduced here for the readers of The Broken Shield)

KUCHING: Sarawak Democratic Action Party has expressed shocks that Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud does not know what the Chinese community wants even after 30 years he has been at the helm of the state government.

“Many, including myself, shocked when we read from the papers last week that the chief minister indicated that he does not know what the Chinese community wants.

“After 30 years as chief minister of Sarawak, it is just simply absurd that Taib does not know what the Chinese community in Sarawak wants.

“What has the chief minister been doing in the past 30 years?

“Rather, what have the chief minister’s counterparts in Sarawak United People who claim to represent the Chinese community on the government been doing in the past 30 years?” asked Chong Chieng Jen, DAP secretary in a letter to the Chief Minister.

Copies of the letter were distributed to the Press today. A copy was sent to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

He said that a statement like this coming from the chef minister in power for 30 years simply meant that Taib “has failed as a chief minister for all Sarawakians.”

“Let me, as a member of the Opposition and also as a Sarawakian, inform the chief minister what the Chinese community in Sarawak wants. Many of the things what they want as listed herein below are also what a common Sarawakian, a non-Chinese, wants of a state government,” he said.

The list includes the following:
  • Amendment to the Sarawak Land Code to provide for (a) automatic free renewal of land leases for another 99 years upon expiry of the terms of leases, and (b) all section 47 notification shall lapse and cease to be of any effect on the expiry of two years after the date of its publication in the gazette if the government does not acquire the subject land within the said two-year period.
  • A fair and transparent land policy whereby the alienation of state land for commercial purpose ought to be done through open tender system. This is the stark contrast with what has been practised nowadays whereby the chief minister’s family members’ companies have been alienated with large parcels of state land at very low prices, for example:

(i) Lots 9192, 9193 &9194 all of Block 11MTLD, a total of 269 acres of land in BDC, Kuching alienated to Monarda S/B (YAB’s son’s company) at RM291,000 per acre when the prevailing market prices of such land is easily RM1.5 million –RM2 million per acre;

(ii) 33 acres of land at Jalan Batu Lintang, Kuching alienated to Naim Cendera (YAB’s cousin’s company) at RM909,000 per acre when the prevailing market price of such land is easily RM2 million – RM2.5 million per acre;

(iii) Lot 1208 Puyut Land District (10,000ha) alienated to Polar Red S/B (YAB’s son’s company), a dormant company;

(iv) Lot 1210 Puyut Land District (5,000ha), alienated to Magna Wide S/B in 2008, (YAB’s brother’s company), a dormant company; and

(v) Lot 79 Block 5 Balingian Land District (6,358 ha), alienated to Worldsign Harvest S/B (YAB’s sister’s company) a dormant company.

All state government procurement contracts be awarded through open tender where all suppliers and contractors can tender and compete on equal footing. This is also in stark contrast with the practice nowadays whereby Taib’s family-related companies almost enjoy a monopoly control over state government contracts involving millions of ringgit Malaysia.

Annual allocation of funds from the state budgets for the development and maintenance of Chinese middle schools, Chinese primary schools and missionary schools.

Timber concession licences to be awarded for small areas (1000 – 2000 acres per licence) and through open tender system so that all those who are involved in sawmill or wood industry will have a chance to obtain the raw material (timber log) first-hand.

Cheaper electricity for domestic, commercial and industrial uses. This is especially so given that Bakun dam will be in operation soon and that hydro-electricity is cheap. Further more, it is most unfair to the local consumers, businessmen and industrialists that SESCO is selling electricity to Press Metal Berhad at such cheap price of approximately RM0.10 per KwH, while the local consumers, businessmen and industrialists have to pay approximately RM0.30 per KwH for electricity.

Local councils be given sufficient funds to provide proper maintenance of basic infrastructure eg. street lightings, drains and roads.

There shall not be any control or restriction on the production of cement in Sarawak and the importation of cement from West Malaysia to Sarawak.

Fairer treatment and better representation of the Chinese in the civil service. Of late, not only the Chinese are unfairly treated, but also the locals as well. The state government agencies, especially SESCO, is employing foreigners as sky-high remuneration rates on the one hand, but in comparison, the locals who are working at comparable posts are paid pittance, eg. the record-breaking US$1.2 million annual salary for the Norwegian CEO of SESCO. This is an insult to our local talents.

Cancel the imposition of 10% sales tax on four-D lottery tickets as there is no such taxation on the sale of 4-D lottery tickets in West Malaysia.

Chong, who is the MP for Bandar Kuching said: “I can confidently say that the above 10 items are what the Chinese in Sarawak wants which are within the state government’s power to implement immediately.

“Basically they call for equal and fair distribution and enjoyment of state’s wealth and resources. I believe that even the non-Chinese community will welcome the implementation of the above 10 items.

“There are matters like good governance, justice, security, medical welfare, flood mitigation projects and general education issues which are of the concerns of the Chinese community, but they are more federal matters,” he said.

Chong also called on Taib to make full and frank disclosure of the property that he and his family members has amassed within and outside Malaysia during his tenure as the chief minister of Sarawak.