by Geryl Ogilvy Ruekeith, Zoee Hillson, Johnson K Saai, Jacob Achoi, Nurul Amarlina, Simon Ingka Crown, Peter Sibon and Antonia Chiam. Posted on June 29, 2011, WednesdayKUCHING: There is no need for a native land commission to be established in the state, Minister with Special Functions in the Chief Minister’s Office Tan Sri Datuk Amar Adenan Satem said yesterday.
He said this when delivering his winding-up speech at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) in response to the proposal by Baru Bian (PKR-Ba Kelalan) for the commission to be set up to solve native customary rights (NCR) land issues as apparently the government and the courts have different opinions on NCR.
Baru, a lawyer by profession dubbed by many as a land expert, in his debate had said it was now more crucial to establish an independent land commission as seemingly the stand of the government was that only areas farmed before Jan 1, 1958 or ‘Temuda’ were considered as NCR whereas the court had ruled that NCR also included the ‘Pemakai Menua’ and ‘Pulau’ which often led to land disputes.
He believed that with the commission issues like encroachment and trespassing by companies issued with timber or plantation licences could be avoided.
However, in response to that, Adenan said such commission was not necessary because the government had long recognised and respected native’s rights to their customary land provided they were created in accordance with the law.
“The Sarawak Land Code has adequate provisions to better achieve the same objectives of investigating, recognising rights and issuing titles to NCR land,” he said, adding that Section 2 of the Sarawak Land Code offered clear definition of NCR, Section 5 (2) outlined the methods by which NCR may be created while Part V of the same law detailed out the process by which land titles may be issued to the natives under Section 18 of the Sarawak Land Code.
“The above law is administered by the Land and Survey Department which has established procedures to deal with all aspects of the NCR issues. In implementing these procedures the department has always adopted a fair and professional approach.
“For instance, in the often quoted matter of NCR being wrongly alienated to others, the government through the Land and Survey Department had taken action to either return the land to the rightful owners or compensate them,” he noted.
On the settlement of land disputes, be they among the natives, between natives and plantation owners, or between natives and the government, he stressed that the elected representatives of the respective areas were duty bound to give correct explanation to their electorates on government policies as well as to assist them in settling disputes amicably at the local levels without resorting to the courts.
He also advised NCR land owners, should they have issues with regards to their NCR such as encroachment by other parties, to report the matter to the appropriate agency, which is the Land and Survey Department.
“Reporting to other parties such as the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) will only result in your plight being politicised rather than resolved,” he noted. Therefore, he said, the government was not of the opinion that a native land commission would be able to resolve issues pertaining to NCR.
“In short, there are no benefits to be gained by all parties especially by the claimants with the setting up of the commission,” said Adenan.