PH Sarawak reps oppose Land Code (Amendment) Bill 2018

BA Kelalan rep Baru Bian (seated centre) and Kota Sentosa rep Chong Chieng Jen (seated right) reacting to the reporters’ questions during a press conference held at DUN Complex, Petra Jaya, Kuching yesterday.
BA Kelalan rep Baru Bian (seated centre) and Kota Sentosa rep Chong Chieng Jen (seated right) reacting to the reporters’ questions during a press conference held at DUN Complex, Petra Jaya, Kuching yesterday.

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.

Previous article‘Integrated Master Plan for O & G industry needed’
Next articleAll 12 boys and football coach rescued from cave