Hornbill Unleashed

July 12, 2018

Land Code Amendment Bill 2018 creating more problems — Ali

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:04 AM

Image result for ALI Biju (PKR-Krian)ALI Biju (PKR-Krian) yesterday asserted his objection to the Land Code Amendment Bill 2018, claiming the Bill is creating more problems instead of providing a solution.

He said the proposed amendments fall short of the expectations of the native communities who have been fighting and waiting for the recognition of their rightful claims on their ancestral lands.

“The minister (Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah) promised to once and for all settle this problem with the introduction of this Bill.

“Instead of solving the problem, this Bill creates more problems,” he said when debating the Bill at the august house yesterday.

Among issues raised by Ali is the ‘usufructuary right’, a legal term used by the court to mean having the right to use something but not having ownership of it.

He said this amendment fundamentally gives the force of law to Pemakai Menoa and Pulau Galau (PMPG) to only an extent.

“The problem is only half solved. There is no question about that. However, the question that arises is where does the right exist? On the land or in the land? This Bill states that it is on the land, meaning there is right to use whatever grows on the land, or flows on the land or is found on the land.

“The force of law does not go any deeper than what is on the land because the land itself is not mentioned in this Bill. In short, this Bill only gives the right to use what is on the land but does not give the right to possess the land. So the question arises, who owns the land?” he stressed.

He said the second issue is the size of PMPG, which he believes is the most controversial amendment in the Bill.

Since time immemorial, he pointed out, the natives of Sarawak have created PMPG based on their respective adat or customary law.

“The size of each community’s PMPG is very subjective. Various ethnic groups, and even within the same ethnic group, have various adat (customs) and the boundaries of their PMPG were acknowledged and respected by their neighbours. This amendment will directly go against historical facts and is trying to standardise the size of PMPG across the board.

“It is an attempt to do a ‘one-size fits-all’ approach. Such an approach is completely unfair and refuses to recognise the adat (customs) of the native communities. In fact, it is as if the government is trying to find a simple solution to settle the matter, and it would be safe to assume that any land outside the 500 hectares would be State Land.

“In one fell swoop, the government has limited PMPG and created State Land outside the 500 hectares, in effect grabbing native communities’ PMPG who have more than 500 hectares,” he said.

As an example, he said the natives along the Rajang and Baram river have PMPG much larger than communities in Krian have.

“Will the natives in these areas be able to accept the capping of 500 hectares? In the case of Ex Temenggong Pahang village, which consists of more than 200 families, 500 hectares will be outrageously small,” he said.

The third issue cited by Ali regarding this Bill is that it requires the Director of Land and Survey to approve applications for PMPG.

He said this is totally not acceptable to the native communities since it involves a civil servant who is not well-versed in each and all of the native communities’ adat laws and history making a ruling over such matters.

“We in Pakatan Harapan have proposed since 2011 that we set up a Land Commission comprising experts in native adat laws to be the registry for all valid applications.

“However, this Bill is putting such applications in the hands of a civil servant who is an administrative expert, not an adat law expert,” he said.

The final issue with the Bill, Ali added, was that it said PMPG that have been approved will be given title in perpetuity.

He claimed this is an ambiguous clause that contradicts the very essence of usufructuary right which is a limited right.

“How can you give title in perpetuity to something that is not legally owned by the user? If the government is serious to give force of law in perpetuity to ownership of the land, then why go around in circles using Section 6A when we can do a shortcut and just give PMPG full force of law under Section 18?

Source : The Borneo Post Online



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