GPS backbencher disagrees with PH reps’ suggestions

A Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) backbencher disagreed with suggestions by Pakatan Harapan (PH) representatives that native customary rights claim cannot be restricted or limited.

Miro Simuh (GPS-Serembu) said such suggestions by Baru Bian (PKR-Ba Kelalan) was not rational.

He said that Baru despite being an audacious quality lawyer on native NCR land issues, the latter had fallen short of a comprehensive and substantive points on his private member’s bills, resulting in its rejection at the august House last year.

“Imagine if  all the longhouses or community settlements were to be given ownership/ propriety rights unlimited in size,  not only will the areas overlap with other corresponding community areas but the whole length and breath of Sarawak lands will be ‘finished’,  given out to at least over 3,000 longhouses of the Ibans and Orang Ulu. The Iban in populated areas like Sibu, Saratok, Sri Aman etc will end up fighting over the overlapping lands,” he said when debating the Land Code (Amendment) Bill 2018 yesterday.

He was commenting on news reports quoting Baru as telling a press conference on Tuesday that it is PH’s stand that  NCR land or PMPG (Pemakai Menoa or Pulau Galau) concept cannot be restricted or limited to an area defined by the authority.

Baru also said cases had been won where their PMPG extent beyond 10,000 hectares.

Meanwhile, Miro in supporting the Bill said the amendments to the Land Code, which add the term “Native Territorial Domain” (NTD) under a new Section 6A will enable the natives to assert their claim to the land where they have foraged for food and other domestic uses or preserved for their future use.

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In other words, by adding this concept of phrase “Native Territorial Domain” in the amendment to the Land Code 1958, the native communities would be able to assert their claim over and above of their existing NCR based on Section 5(2) of the Land Code and the decided court cases.

“The issuance of “Native Communal Title” in perpetuity to the “Native Territorial Domain” will give further security to the native communities concerned and would be more advantageous when compared to NCR land which only confers “licence” to the natives to use the NCR land,” he said.

He nonetheless hoped that there will be provisions for the natives to claim a bigger area in meritorious cases where the facts and evidences would justify it.

As such,  he fully agreed with the suggestion by Gerald Rentap Jabu (GPS – Layar) that the area claimed should be more than 500 hectares and can be up to 1,000 hectares.

He also brought up the problem of NCR land which have not been surveyed or which have been surveyed but not yet issued with individual title document by the Land & Survey Department as what was stated in Section 18 of the Land Code.

He said this problem is common in most of the Bidayuh areas where surveyed had been done and the land owners still waiting for the title till now.

“In this regard, it is the expectation of the Bidayuh community that the Sarawak government expedites the survey and issuance of individual land titles to Bidayuh NCR especially to land where there are no disputes amongst the Bidayuh NCR land claimants,” he said.

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