Already the government has taken the initial step in order to gain advantage of the situation when Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak announced an allocation of RM20 million to carry out as a “first step” to do perimeter survey of some 1.5 million hectares of NCR land in the state. Starting from the end of the year, it is an obvious part of the government’s strategy in order to minimize its exploitation by the Opposition.
The Opposition Pakatan Rakyat is aware of the government’s strategy in trying to win back the hearts and minds of the people especially the natives who own the NCR land. But the natives are no longer fool as the problems have been there for about three decades. Nor do they believe what the BN leaders have promised them any more.
Now they start to ask questions and want to know more about the government’s plan. For example, what exactly does Najib mean by “as a first step to do perimeter survey of NCR land”? Does he mean the communal land boundary, that is, what the Ibans described as the “antara” or “garis menoa” (communal land boundary) of a longhouse or between the longhouses?
“I have filed in court for a copy of the Registers in one of my cases, but the trial of that case has not started. The Sarawak Government argues that the recording of the land boundaries in the Register is only an administrative act which does not have any legal force or is not evidence of the Government accepting, recognising or granting NCR over the lands within the land boundaries recorded.”The Registers have to be read together with the Secretariat Circular No. 12 of 1939 issued by the then Chief Secretary to the Rajah which, inter alia, directed that Village Council has to be established in the villages or longhouses to assist the Ketua Kampung to administer the village or longhouse and to determine or fix, record and report the communal land boundary of the longhouse to the District Office.
In the Suai, Niah and Sibuti areas, there is a map or plan in the Land and Survey Department in Miri called “Composite Plan Showing Distribution of Native Farming Land in Suai Niah and Sibuti” which records the communal land boundaries of the longhouses in the said areas and which records was compiled by the District Office Miri and Niah also during the Brookes and British Administrations. I have a copy of the map/plan and am using it in my cases now pending trial.”I have also seen similar records of communal land boundaries shown to me by one or two longhouses in Sebauh, Bintulu which they said they obtained from the Sub-District Office in Sebauh.”Thus, if Najib and the Sarawak Government are really serious and sincere in surveying and gazetting the perimeter of NCR lands, they, in my view should refer to and gazette the communal land boundaries based on these records of communal land boundaries. In cases where the communal land boundaries have not been recorded, then survey and gazette the communal land boundaries which have existed or been established between the longhouses. The survey should be jointly carried out by the Land and Survey Dept and the longhouse residents,” Harrison said. But if Najib and the Sarawak Government only survey and gazette perimeter of temuda areas, that is, temuda based on aerial photos taken after 1.1.1958 (that is based on government legal counsel, J.C. Fong’s interpretation of what is NCR), their proposal will not resolve the NCR problem and that would be contrary to what the courts have decided and it is also not what we wanted or have asked them to do.
In any case, will Najib and the Sarawak Government dare to revoke or withdraw logging licences, Licences For Planted Forests and leases over NCR lands issued to big companies for oil palm plantations which were all signed, approved or issued by Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud and Awang Tengah both as First and Second Ministers of Planning and Resource Management respectively?
This will be the RM100 million question!
Awang Tengah in his statement in the last few days has also stated that the Land and Survey will first determine the boundary between NCR land and State land. Only then will the perimeter survey of NCR land as announced by Najib be surveyed on the ground. This shows that the Land and Survey which will determine where is the boundary between NCR land and State land, not the people of the longhouses. Will the Land and Survey determine the boundary based on the decisions of the courts which uphold “antara or garis menoa or sempadan” (communal land boundary) as the extent or boundary of NCR lands?
Most likely not as the Land and Survey keeps on telling people, government officials and the community leaders in their seminars that NCR land is restricted to temuda only. This is contrary to the decisions of the courts and the sempadan of our longhouses made or recorded by the Brookes and the British Administrations before.
On the survey and issuance of individual titles over NCR lands within the communal land boundary of the longhouse, it is just the next process to be done after surveying and gazetting the communal land boundary (the 1st step).
As the NCR issue is a very important issue for all the natives, they should continue to press this issue ahead. The BN now feels their support from the natives may start disintegrating or declining as a result of the NCR issue. That is why they have to say and try to be seen doing something on this now all because of the coming Sarawak State election.
The fact that they said the mechanism to set up the survey etc will start at the end of this year is fishy because by then the State election may be over and if they win again there is no guarantee they will honour what they have promised as what we all have bitterly learnt many times before.
In the last few weeks, the BN elected representatives have signed and sent letters to the Land and Survey Department in support of the longhouse folks in their NCR claims against the companies whereby they asked the lands claimed by the longhouse folks be excluded from the leases issued to the companies.
Some of these letters were produced by the longhouse folks in the courts but the courts have said the letters are useless as the Government or Land and Survey Dept have not agreed or accepted what the BN elected representatives have said or proposed in the letters.
So these BN elected representatives just do anything in order to be seen doing something to get votes from the longhouse folks as the election is coming soon. As BN elected representatives, they should get Taib and Awang Tengah their own bosses and who are the Ministers who signed or approved the leases to the companies to revoke these leases or exclude the NCR lands of the longhouse folks from the leases.
But they do not do it because they are afraid of Taib and the big companies. Anyway, it is public knowledge that the big companies who give election funds to Najib, Taib and the BN during the elections. So will they dare to act against the interests of these big companies? – The Broken Shield