Much time has been spent amongst many bloggers on both sides of the political divide in the last few years.
The State Government which has an absolute say on Land matters in Sarawak has been amending the Land Code many times to make it easier for the Minister of Land to approve and allocate any piece of Land to any individual they favour with or without consent from those who may have established their rights to the said land. In Sarawak, the Minister which have total power on Land Matters is the current Chief Minister. His instruction verbally or otherwise is the “Law”.
Yet so far the Courts can rule otherwise. Using natinal and international conventions on natives rights, the Courts have overturned many decision made by the State Government to allocate land for various plantations. However the onus of proof for the right to any piece of land is up to the complainants. The government continues to issue a provisional lease to any capable developer through their proxies as long as the price is right. The latest for example is the Kampong Stenggang land in Bau District. The piece of Land was allocated to a company without consulting the people who have established ownership because according to the Land and Survey, the area appears to be State land from the Settalite map they have in their office. However the said piece has been occupied by the Stenggang people since it was allocated that piece of Land to them by the Rajah.
Now the matter if not resolved soon will be brought to the Courts to decide at a fee of RM75,000.00.
Thus the dilemma of many natives. Their land can be sold to anyone without their knowledge. Any dispute it is up to the Courts to decide if they can afford a lawyer to establish their rights. They may win their case but the Government of the Day will appeal and appeal like in the case Nor anak Nyawai vs Borneo Pulp and the Government.
Yet land is life. Without land on one can live as land is needed for food production or collection, land is needed for shelter, and even for burial land is needed. Yet the priority of Land allocation for the present Government is to sell arable Land to Oil Palm plantations and other plantation in the name of Politics of Development. Fortunately the majority of Sarawakians supported the view that bulk of valuable land must be given to the rich people only.
I have long advocated that the poor natives must benefit from all land development and no land should be developed without their involvement. Yet when I raised this issue in my maiden speech in the State Assembly in 1983, one Assistant Minsiter was asked to shoot me down. Anyway eventually, they appreciate the need to involve the landowners through Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabiliation Authority(SALCRA). Initially SALCRA did very well to improve the buying power of the landowners who were involved as they received very good bonuses and dividends when the Scheme was under the late Denys Lang. Now hardly worth anything under the present management… They have been using my small piece of land, but it appears they need my bonus and dividend to pay for their own comforts….
I believe that unless a proper approach of Land development is taken seriously by all concerned, the current instant benefits to the few will hamper the future of many. It will become the tears of many soon. STAR is very concerned on this issue. We want land development to benefit as many as possible. Further land development must also take into account the sustainability of our Biodiversity and the overall ecological system. Millions are promised for flooding in Sibu. Millions are needed for Kuching for flood mitigation project. Yet these floodings are geeting more severe because of indiscriminate development projects in the water catchment areas. Whatever happen to our environmental impact studies which are being done by the Department Of Environment?
Back to the natives, your land is your land. It is your right to allow your BN masters to sell your land without your consent. By the way, you have given “your CONSENT for Taib to sell your land WHEN YOU VOTED FOR BN during any election” after 1995. So if you cry when your land is sold without compensation, etc, remember I have reminded you of this possibility in 1995 when I shaved my head…