Abang Johari (third right) launches the event while Awang Tengah (right) and others look on.
GPS government stands firm

LAWAS: The Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government stands firm in defending Sarawak’s land rights enshrined in the Federal Constitution and the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

“In previous negotiations chaired by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, my opening remark was that land was under the state list. There would be no deal or negotiation in this — that was our right,” said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He said this when officiating at the Sarawak Land and Survey Department’s (JTS) Innovation and Integrity Day (HIITS) 2020 at Hotel Seri Malaysia here today.

Abang Johari said that sometimes, some people might want to intervene in land matters.

“So we are very firm on our rights on land. We are not members of the National Land Council — we are only observers,” he said, adding that Sarawak had autonomy over land matters and the state had its own land code (the Sarawak Land Code — SLC).

He said that Sarawak had to look into provisions under MA63 as a basis for regaining its rights which were eroded either intentionally or unintentionally.

He was confident with JTS’ spirit and pragmatic approach, and that Sarawak could be developed in its own way.

Abang Johari also expressed his gratitude to all JTS staff for their contribution to the state, especially in resolving matters pertaining to land, such as the confusion over Section 6 and Section 18 of the SLC.

“This has become a rather controversial issue but JTS officers have given effective explanations to the stakeholders,” he said.

The chief minister also emphasised that the latest technology should be used in land administration matters.

“HIITS shows that JTS is not static, but it instead follows the change of era. Every year, we see that technology changes, and this technology should be used to create a more efficient system in our work,” he said.

Abang Johari also commended JTS’ efforts including its one-day registration process for land transactions as well as the department’s success in innovation and digitalisation, including winning various awards.

Also present at the ceremony were Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion, Batu Danau assemblyman Paulus Palu Gumbang, JTS Sarawak director Abdullah Julaihi and other representatives.