The announcement by Housing Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Openg on Monday that two longhouses will be issues with strata titles this year has aroused Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian’s curiosity since he has had a long standing interest in matters concerning NCR land and the issuance of titles for such land.
July 28, 2012
Don’t be misled by Abang Johari’s announcement, warns Baru Bian
“Much as I welcome any move to secure the interests of the NCR landowners, there are some questions about this latest development that need to be answered so that all parties are clear on the purpose and the actual benefits and practicality of this exercise,” Baru, the State Assemblyman for Ba’Kelalan, said in a statement today.
“The first question I have is whether the strata titles will be issued under the Strata Title Ordinance or under the Sarawak Land Code,” he asked when commenting on Johari’s announcement.
“ It is to be noted that the Strata Title Ordinance applies to buildings five stories and higher. In April 2010, when this matter was brought up, the Land and Survey Department said that the Strata Title Ordinance does not apply to longhouses where issuance of title is concerned.
“Minister of Infrastructure Development and Communication Datuk Seri Michael Manyin was reported to have said that he was relieved that terrace house-style title was proposed instead of strata title and that ‘If it were the strata title, it would create a lot of confusion and dissatisfaction among the longhouse folk’,” Baru said.
His second question is whether the banks have been consulted about the acceptability of these ‘bilik’ strata titles as collateral for bank loans, in view of the fact that Abang Johari has announced that individual titles can be accepted as such.
“In the hypothetical situation that a loan was actually taken out with a ‘bilik’ title as collateral and the bilik was put up for auction as a result of non-payment, who would take up the offer?
“Certainly no outsiders would just buy the bilik and move in. The other longhouse inhabitants would also not do so as their adat will not allow it.
“My third question is: Does the issuance of bilik strata titles have any bearing on whether insurance companies are willing to insure longhouses against fire?
“There are many factors which determine if insurance coverage will be given and I would like to know whether possession of an individual title will override other considerations.”
Baru said the question of ownership and inheritance of a bilik is a non-issue, as there is adat to provide for this.
“Let us not lose sight of the fact that what is really important to the indigenous people is security of the lands surrounding their longhouses, the temuda, the orchard or fruit groves, pemakai menoa and pulau galau.
“It would be preferable and more meaningful if the Government could issue titles for these lands under s 18 of the Sarawak Land Code to the owners – this would be of real value and would secure the interests of the people.
“Considering the fact that issuance of bilik titles will be of no real benefit to thelonghouse dwellers, and taking into account the timing of this announcement, the more cynical amongst us will naturally question the motive behind this exercise.
“The indigenous people must not be misled into an illusory sense of security for political purposes,” Baru said.