Awang Tengah (seated, second right) with the residents at Rh Penghulu Surang, Nanga Tajam, Selangau on Monday.

SIBU: The Sarawak government has always recognised and defended the rights of the people, especially regarding native customary rights (NCR) land.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said NCR land survey had been implemented since the 1960s through programmes such as Settlement Operations, Part III Measurement of the State Land Code and Traditional Village Measurement.

“However, this method was found to be less efficient because in the period of about 50 years from the 1960s until 2010, only about 260,000 hectares (642,460 acres) of NCR land was successfully surveyed.  This means that on average only 5,200 hectares of NCR land can be measured per year.

“Therefore, we introduced the New Initiative NCR Land Measurement Programme in 2010. This programme is implemented in two stages.

“The first stage, perimeter measurement and gazetting under Section 6 of the State Land Code as Bumiputera Communal Reserve (Agriculture).

“In the second stage, individual lot measurement and issuance of land title deeds under Section 18 of the State Land Code.

“So far, the Sarawak Land and Survey Department has successfully measured the perimeter of approximately 943,926 hectares (2.332 million acres). Of that amount, 753,456 hectares or 1.8 million acres have been gazetted.”

He said this when attending the Bumiputera Communal Reserve under Section 6 and Land Ownership Letter Section 18 State Land Code for Selangau area of Sibu Division held at Rh Penghulu Surang, Nanga Tajam, Selangau on Monday (Oct 26).

This clear boundary would facilitate the measurement of individual lots for the issuance of land title deeds under Section 18 of the State Land Code, said Awang Tengah.

He said group land development under NCL development or land development by the Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Salcra) would also be able to be intensified in a more organised manner.

He explained that the measurement work was based on approved NCR land applications and dialogue sessions held with relevant NCR landowners before the survey activities began.

He said it aimed to provide information and get feedback before actual field measurement work was carried out.

The measurement would only be carried out after obtaining the consent and support of the landowner involved, he said.

“This agreement and support are necessary to ensure the smooth measurement of the perimeter survey.”

Meanwhile, Awang Tengah said that for cases that were still in dispute and trial in court, the measurement work would not be carried out unless the case had been resolved or withdrawn by those involved.

“However, if you want to participate in the NCR Land Measurement Programme again, a new application must be submitted.

“In the second stage, we carry out measurements in individual lots based on approved applications, the area has already been measured in perimeter, gazetted under Section 6 of the State Land Code and the readiness of the NCR land owner involved.

“To ensure that individual lot measurements can be carried out smoothly, NCR landowners must give full cooperation to the Sarawak Land and Survey Department with; identify land boundaries by making clear lines, free from any border disputes and claims as well present when the measurement is performed.”

To date, he said a total of 35,840 individual lots had been successfully measured involving an area of 44,607 hectares (110,226 acres) which had been and would be issued land title deeds under Section 18 of the State Land Code.

At the function, Awang Tengah handed over 229 land titles to 227 landowners. The areas involved are Sungai Tajam, Batang Oya, Selangau, Tanjung Penasu, Batang Igan, Sibu, Ulu Sungai Salim / Menyan and Pasai Siong, Sibu District.