The Borneo Resources Institute, Malaysia (Brimas) and the Sarawak Native Customary Land Rights Network (Tahabas) welcomed yesterday’sconditional approval by Taib to debate with Baru if the latter can provide strong evidence that his administration has snatched lands to which native customary rights (NCR) are exerted.
“We … are willing to provide evidence and proof to assist Baru and to back our claims that the current state government is taking away NCR lands from indigenous peoples in Sarawak,” said a joint press statement signed by Brimas executive director Mark Bujang and Tahabas president Ramould Siew.
“We ask Baru (right) to name the date and venue of the debate and also to urge the government to air the debate publicly, over radio and television.”
They reminded the chief minister that the debate is not about the state seizing titled lands but about seizing untitled NCR lands.
They view the debate as important to educate the public on NCR land issues that affect the indigenous peoples of Sarawak, so that the people can judge the situation for themselves.
Baru had thrown down the gauntlet to Taib last Saturday, challenging him to a public debate on NCR lands.
Baru said he was fed up with Taib and his ministers claiming that the NCR land is an old issue and that he aims to show Taib and the people how relevant and prevalent the problem remains.