KUCHING: An opposition member has alleged that land ownership of the natives in Sarawak will be abolished if the Land Code (Amendment) Bill, 2018 is passed today.
Chiew Chiu Sing (DAP-Tanjong Batu) said there was no need to add a new Section 6A called Native Territorial Domain where the natives can claim usufructuary rights.
“The natives of Sarawak have been there, in this land of ours called Sarawak since time immemorial, way before the establishment of Sarawak or even before the Rajahs.
“Since that time, the natives had in their wisdom, developed their customary rights, and their adat (custom) to rule the way they live and do the things they do and their land they live on.
“They already have their ways of defining their rights over their lands, that is their temuda, pulau galus and pemakai menoa,” he said when debating the Bill in the august House yesterday.
Chiew asserted that the natives ‘do not need to claim their rights again’ like what had been proposed in the amendment.
He said: “It is not right that now we try to qualify and limit their rights over their ancestral land, by asking them to claim usufructuary rights where they can use the land but have no legal ownership”.
“The land belongs to them in the first place, since time immemorial.
“It was given by the heavens, full rights over their land, can’t we accept that? Unless we are trying to take their rights away, are we? We should not.”
He said without the ‘adat’, the natives lose their culture, identity and everything.
He said he was hoping that the amendment would recognise temuda, pulau galau and pemakai menoa to protect the rights of the natives.
“But now that right is going to be wiped out.
“When this Bill is passed, many of you are going home with only the temuda. No more pulau galau or pemakai menoa,” he claimed.
According to Chiew, the natives are rightly concerned that their land will end up like what happened to the natives in Australia, Canada, the United States and other countries across the globe.
He pointed out that this was the reason why so many quarters and parties had protested against the Bill in the last couple of weeks.
“Prior to this, various indigenous ethnic groups in Sarawak including the Orang Ulu, the Iban, the Bidayuh, the Melanau and the Malays had met at different places in Sarawak, and had made declarations on their rights over their customary rights lands.”
He said their concerns and declarations had been compiled into a book, which had been forwarded to the Sarawak government.
He said they had even written a letter dated June 28 to all members of the august House to put on record that they objected to the Bill.
“They strongly oppose the unconscionable and proposed statutory definition of the term pemakai menoa and pulau galau including the term usufructuary rights that is repugnant to the meaning known to the native customary laws and all other amendments that have the effects of changing the status of native customary rights land,” he said.
Chiew hoped that the government of the day will protect the legitimate rights of the natives in Sarawak, and thus opposed the Bill.