Thursday 1 September 2011

Dayaks must know ‘fundamental rights’

KUCHING: Dayak communities in Sarawak and Sabah must be united and be informed of their ‘fundamental rights’ to their land.

Calling on all natives to be united, Sarawak DAP chairman Wong Ho Leng told the Dayak communities: ‘You must know your rights. Land is your life. These are your fundamental rights. And you must not allow your land to be taken to plantation conglomerates and to their cronies.

“Together, let us defend your rights.”

Wong also asked Dayak Barisan Nasional leaders such as deputy Chief Minister Alfred  Jabu Numpang, Land Development Minister James Masing, Social Development and Urbanisation Minister William Mawan and Infrastructure Development Minister Michael Manyin to be ‘true’ spokesmen for the Dayak community.
He said many Dayak BN leaders were supportive of the opposition on the issue of native customary rights (NCR) land.

“It is really pitiful and sorrowful that the Dayak ministers, members of parliament and state assemblymen are not prudent and not true spokesmen for the Dayak communities.

“They are not daring enough to talk about NCR land problems in Parliament or in the state assembly.

“I can tell you that during coffee breaks, they (BN Dayak reps) chose to sit next to us.

“And suddenly I felt pieces of paper being pushed into my pocket. Even without opening the papers, I know what is written inside.

“It concerns NCR land problems which they (BN reps) want us, the opposition, to raise,” he said.

Unhappy landowners

Wong, who is also the Sibu parliamentarian, assured the Dayak communities in Sarawak and Sabah that Pakatan Rakyat will not be like BN and trivialise the Dayak’s right to land.

He said Pakatan will recognise NCR land as defined by the courts.

“This is the pledge of Pakatan Rakyat when we take over both the state and federal governments.
“We have to abide by the court decisions which have declared that NCR lands include temuda land (farming land), pulau galau (communal forests), pemakai menua (territorial domain), pendam (graves) and tembawai (old longhouse sites),” said Wong during a Dayak Reawakening seminar here.

Reassuring the Dayak communities, Wong said: “The Pakatan Rakyat will not be like the Barisan Nasional which has refused to abide by the court decisions.

“The BN government recognises and surveys only the temuda land. Other portions of the NCR lands are taken away and given to plantation conglomerates and crony companies.

“Unhappy landowners are suing the government for taking away their lands. There are now more than 200 NCR land cases.

“Some have been decided by the courts and many more are pending hearing,” said Wong who is also Bukit Assek assemblyman.

Court decisions

According to Wong, who is a lawyer, the state government had appealed against High Court decisions favouring the Dayaks.

“The state government appeals to the Court of Appeal, when they fail again, they appeal to the Federal Court.

“Even the Federal Court agreed with the lower courts that NCR lands should include pulau galau, pemakai menua, temuda land, and so on.

“Yet today, the state government refuses to abide by that ruling,” he said.

According to the state government, there are 1.6 million hectares of NCR lands.

“But where are they? Do you know where?’ Wong asked.

He pointed out that when Pakatan form the government, it will identify the lands, survey and give titles to the rightful owners.

“We will not take away the NCR lands. Instead we will help the Dayaks to develop their land.
“Certainly it will not be a Pelita-type of land concept where the native landowners only receive 0.17 sen as dividends per acre per year.

“To help the landowners, we will form a land commission. This is our pledge,” he said.

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