The state government is abusing its power over NCR land policies and eroding investor confidence, claims PKR.
State opposition PKR has accused the Sarawak government of “abusing and misusing” the office of the state Attorney-General’s Chambers (A-G) to defend the wrong-doings of a few who continue grabbing native customary rights (NCR) land.
According to PKR vice-chairman See Chee How, the state government is “constantly” denying court rulings favouring natives on NCR land.
“The High Courts, the Court of Appeal and even the Federal Court have spoken and ruled on the recognition of NCR according to the customary practice of the natives concerned, but the state government chose to have its own restrictive interpretation.
“The state government is in its denial mode and likely to continue doing so, no matter how many cases are decided in favour of the native communities that have chosen to stand up against the state Barisan Nasional regime.
“To me, it has reached the extent that it is an abuse and misuse of the office of the state Attorney- General’s Chambers to defend the wrong-doings of a few who continue their land grabbing,” he said.
See, who is also Batu Lintang assemblyman, said the most affected are the investors as they will not be able to recover their investments, having paid dearly for the land and ended up having to re-negotiate with the native landowners.
“In the first place, they should have been able to have (direct) joint ventures with the native landowners and thereby derive mutual benefits.
“Instead, they used Pelita (Land Development and Protection Board) and deprived the natives of their rights.
Losing investors’ trust
“The state government is gradually but obviously losing the trust of genuine investors.
“Eventually, more and more of the rural landowners will realise their mistakes of voting for these BN politicians.
“The popular votes for the BN had been slashed 8% in the last state election to 55%.
“It is losing ground and it is just a matter of time that they will be voted out of office,” said See.
See, who is a lawyer with Baru Bian Advocates, was commenting on a suit brought by Jubang Anak Punjab, Juslin Majang Anak Pundu, Mat Anak Tanggon and the residents of Kampung Sual, Simunjan, against First Binary Sdn Bhd, the director of forestry, the director of Land and Survey Department and the state government for encroaching into 168 acres of their NCR land.
The Kuching High Court Judicial Commissioner Ravinthran Paramaguru, who heard the case, declared that Jubang, Juslin Majang, Mat Anak and the residents of Kampung Sual are the owners of the disputed 168 acres.
Ravinthran said that in view of his acceptance of the evidence on oral history and tradition in respect of the NCR land claim over the disputed area, he was only prepared to grant a declaration that the plaintiffs have established NCR over the 168 acres.
“As the plaintiffs have only succeeded partially against the government, I shall reduce the costs that they are entitled to.
“I shall order the second defendant (director of forest), the third defendant (director of Land and Surveys) and the fourth defendant (the state government) to pay costs of RM30,000 to the plaintiffs.
“In so far as the first defendant (First Binary) is concerned, at the time the suit was filed in 2007, the timber licence subsisted.
“In the premises, I shall order the first defendant to bear their own costs,” he said.
See represented the natives, while Allan Lao and Lidwina Kiew of Messrs David, Sagah and Teng Advocates, Kuching, appeared for First Binary.
Dayang Jamillah Tun Salahuddin of the state Attorney-General’s Chambers represented the director of forestry, director of Land and Survey Department and the state government.
So far, Baru Bian Advocates has successfully represented more than 10 NCR land cases and more than 100 are still pending at the High Court.