The opposition here wants Chief Minister Taib Mahmud to openly declare that the state accepts and recognises the court’s definition of native customary rights (NCR) land.
Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian said that regular coverage in the press of Barisan Nasional politicians rejoicing with landowners at “presentation ceremonies” gave the impression that the state government recognised the “pemakai menua” (communal forests) and “pulau galau” (territorial domain) forests as part and parcel of NCR land as defined by the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court.
“Does the government accept the Court of Appeal and Federal Court’s definition, which includes Pemakai menoa (communal/territorial domain) and Pulau galau (reserved forest or land) as NCR land?
“Thus far in every NCR land case I bring to court, the submission by the state Attorney-General (AG) is that NCR land is restricted to temuda (farming land) established before 1958.
“This shows either that the state AG’s office is ignorant of the court’s ruling, or that the state has totally no regard for the authority or supremacy of the highest courts of the land.
“I again call on the Chief Minister, the Second Minister of Resource Planning and Environment, or the Special Functions Minister to declare publicly that the state recognises that pemakai menoa and pulau galau are part and parcel of NCR land, as defined by the court, ” Bian, who is a prominent NCR lawyer here, said.
Not against new NCR initiative
Commenting on a recent statement by Special Function Minister Adenan Satem, Bian said that he did not oppose the new NCR initiative to survey the land and provide landowners with titles.
“The Special Functions Minister was quoted as saying that there are some people telling landowners to oppose the NCR new initiative.
“I assure the Special Functions Minister that PKR and I do not oppose the NCR new initiative. In fact, we would welcome any initiative to document and ensure the security of our people’s NCR land.
“The only stumbling-block is the inability of the state to assure us that there is a meeting of the minds with regard to the meaning of NCR, and that has resulted in people being wary of the surveying exercise by the Land and Survey Department.
“In fact, the explanation made by the department to the landowners is similar to the state AG – that NCR is restricted to temuda established before 1958.
“This is wrong and unacceptable. Our native landowners must have the assurance that the state will adhere to the definition of NCR land as pronounced by the courts.
“Only then can we lend our full support to the NCR new initiative,” added Bian, who is also Ba’Kelalan assemblyman.