KUCHING: Unless there is divine intervention, the Land Code (Amendment) Bill 2018 which will be tabled in the State Legislative Assembly today (Wed 11 July) is expected to be passed easily without Baru Bian (PKR –Ba’kelalan) and Chong Chieng Jen (DAP-Kota Sentosa) taking part in the debate on the Bill.
Baru and Chong are expected to be with their other colleagues actively participating in the debate on the Bill but they will not be around in the august house when the Bill is tabled and put to vote as they both will be in Kuala Lumpur attending federal cabinet meeting.
“We have a joint stand on the matter and secondly because I will not be around tomorrow. I thought this debate would be today and I found out that it would be tomorrow (today) and because of cabinet meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) I wouldn’t be able to participate in the debate,” Baru said when issuing Pakatan Harapan Sarawak’s joint statement at a press conference held at the DUN Complex here yesterday.
“But the gist of the stand we take are here in my statement and we are opposing to the aspect of the amendment bill that touches on the territorial domain, now of course we know it relates to the Pemakai Menoa and Pulau Galau. And my statement is the statement for all us,” he said.
“After perusing the Land Code (Amendment) Bill 2018, (LCAB) which purportedly seeks to recognise ‘pemakai menua’ and ‘pulau galau’ concept of the acquiring native customary rights over land in Sarawak, our response is the same as it is very disappointing.
“It fails to recognise and affirm the fundamental characteristic of the said PM & PG concept (or now it is called territorial domaian”) in the amendment bill as affirmed by the landmark cases from other jurisdictions and from our jurisdiction which hold that the aboriginal people’s rights include an interest in the land and not merely an usufructuary right; which denotes only right on the land.
“Section 6A(1) (LCAB) specifically provides for the recognition of ‘usufructuary rights’ only, which is defined as ‘rights or privileges exercised or enjoyed by a native community over a native territorial domain to forage for food including fishing and hunting’.
“Secondly, the extent of an area allowed to be given to the native community under this concept is limited only to 500 hectares, (see the proviso to section 6A(2) LCAB). It’s our stand that our NCR land or PM & PG cannot be restricted or limited to an area defined by the authority.
“The extent of the said territorial domain should be in accordance with the area that the natives had continously occupied since the time of their forefather to this day,” Baru said.
“We have won cases where their PM & PG extends beyond 10,000 hectares. Limiting the size of PM &PG in this manner is unjust, unfair and immorally wrong.
“Thirdly, section 6A(2) (3) (4) LCAB, provides that application for the recognition of this territorial domain is made through the Superintendent of the Land and Survey and to be approved by the Director of Land and Surveys.
Any rejection by the Director of such application can be appealed against to the Minister.
Our stand is that the determination of custom or adat of the native people of Sarawak cannot be made subjected to non-native or a person who does not have the knowledge of the natives’ adat or custom. In this regard our proposal for the setting up of an Indigenous Land Commission all this while consisting of those experts in the native custom and adat to deal with this issue should be the proper things to do,” he said.
“We note the positive aspect of the proposed amendment on the perpetuity aspect of the title to be issued over the territorial domain (section 6A(3)(b). But this by itself could not justify the absurdity of the main aspects of the amendments as alluded to above.
“For these reasons we respectfully urge all our colleagues YBs from the State Government not to support this LCAB when it comes for debate and voting on Wednesday (today) as this is not what our native community had expected and aspired for,” Baru said.
The Ba Kelalan Assemblyman said he had prepared his speech on the matter which is basically on the same issue and it will be read either YB Ali Biju or YB See Chee How.
“So that will be our stand as well just like what we have done today and I think our stand is quite unified and consolidated on the Oil Mining Ordinance (OMO) ; we all support the stand made by YB Chong, YB Irene and YB Wong King Wei,” he said.
“ I won’t be around and as I said the stand is very clear and that is the reason why I made this public statement today. I don’t think (it disappoints people) because whether we will be in or not tomorrow , the Bill will be passed.
“There is no amount of my presence going to… unless the other side will vote against it. And that is the reason why we made this stand today and we are going to give them notice . By tomorrow (Wednesday) morning this statement will be in the papers. Once it is in the papers they are given notice of the fact that this is our stand, not only my stand, our stand but PH stand on the issue that will be debated.
Baru said it is expected that the GPS or the former BN are the government in the State and their ADUNs are not expected to vote against the Bill.
“And we only have 10 seats in the DUN, and this amendment is being tabled by the state government of the day. So it will be really stupid of their members to go against it unless of course their conscience has been pricked tonight, maybe or maybe tomorrow (Wednesday) morning, then we expect a reversal or maybe objection to the Bill. So we are looking at the practice of what has been tasked and based on that I don’t expect them to go against it,” he said.
“ We pray for that (divine intervention to prick their conscience). That is our prayer,” he said.
“ I think the track record is clear we have been championing this issue. The track record is clear that I had tabled a motion in the DUN and it was rejected; the track record is clear I was suggested to table private bill in the DUN by the late Tok Nan before he became the chief minister which I did and the said bill was voted out not by the Speaker but by the ADUN.
“Let make it very clear of track records of who champion this issue. By the fact that I am not in tomorrow (today) doesn’t nullify or doesn’t abrogate our stand or doesn’t kind of water down our fight in championing for the people.
Chong said it is a norm that Wednesday is federal cabinet meeting and after the cabinet meeting will be the post cabinet meeting.
“ In fact, both if us have put in our notice very early, last week, and it is also a norm that in our DUN, debate on bills are normally done on the first two days.