NATIVE territorial domain which will be introduced with the passing of the Land Code (Amendment) Bill, 2018 should vary in size according to the needs of the community concerned rather than limited to a fixed size of 500 hectares.
This was suggested by Dr Johnichal Rayong Ngipa (UPP-Engkilili) who opined that 500 hectares for one community might be insufficient for dwellers of longhouses with 100 or more doors to forage for food, hunt, fish and farm.
He pointed out that instead of Provisional Lease (PL), the native cultural territorial areas should be given permanent leases and vary in size instead of being limited to a fixed area of 500 hectares.
“Some river valley settlements are big while some others are smaller. 500 hectares are barely enough for dwellers of a longhouse to forage for food, hunt, fish and farm.
“So I guess that the natives should be given at least 2,500 acres for them to expand their agricultural activities,” he said when debating the Land Code (Amendment) Bill, 2018 at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) yesterday.
Nevertheless, Rayong was pleased that the proposed new Section 6A of the Land Code would enable native territorial domain to be registered and most importantly, ‘native communal titles’ would be issued.
“This shall be used exclusively by the native community for agriculture purposes or other purposes as may be approved by the august house and subject to any other terms and conditions that the director (of Land and Survey Department) may impose under Section 6A(3).
“The amendment would address several important issues of conflicts between NCR land owners versus Land and Survey Department and private companies.”
He said upon being passed, the Land Code (Amendment) Bill, 2018 will reverse and/or rectify the most important recent landmark decision of the Federal Court in a case in 2016 which ruled that the custom on ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pualau galau’ (PMPG) has no force of law.
Meanwhile, Fazzruddin Abdul Rahman (PBB-Tupong) expressed his appreciation to Sarawak’s ‘Iban relatives’ as their fight for PMPG has resulted in the state government setting up a committee to not only look into and cover the rights of the Ibans but also cover the rest of the state’s ethnic groups including the Malays and Melanaus.
“It should not be politicised as it will jeopardise our unity. It is very easy and irresponsible to fight for only one group without considering the others and without having the spirit of solving the issue in total,” he told the august house.