Sarawak natives being kicked out of NCR

By Joseph Tawie, Malaysian Mirror

Thousands of natives and their families from 15 longhouses in the Balai Ringin-Karangan-Milikin area in the Serian District are now living in fear of losing their longhouses and their native customary rights (NCR) land to five companies.

Their longhouses and NCR land are within the “State land” that has been leased to Cahaya Mata Sarawak Sdn Bhd, Hock Seng Lee Bhd, Sarawak Economic Development Corporation, Cocolin Industries Sdn Bhd and Poh Plantations Sdn Bhd.

The natives were informed through a letter signed by the Divisional Superintendent of Lands and Surveys, Samarahan Division, Christina Lau, and addressed to Temenggong, Penghulus and Tuai Rumahs in the Samarahan Division.

According to the letter, the government has approved 300,000 ha (741,000 acres) government-owned “State land” to the five companies for the planting of oil palm.

Although the letter dated 20 December 2005, the government’s approval for these companies to develop the land came to be known only two weeks ago when officials of the Lands and Surveys explained the contents of the letter.

The letter advised the headmen to inform their villagers that those who had no titles to the land to move out immediately.

Jail and fine

“Those who fail to comply with the order will have to face legal action under Section 209 of the Land code. If found guilty, they are likely to be imprisoned not more than two years or a fine of not more than RM5,000 or both,” said the letter.

Several pensioners and the local people have not only owned the land, but have also planted oil palm, rubber, engkabang, cocoa, fruit trees such as rambutan and durian.

Former Deputy Sarawak Chief Minister Daniel Tajem, whose land of 40 acres was also affected, said that he has called for a meeting of the people from the 15 longhouses to discuss a plan of action.

“We should be meeting this Sunday in Balai Ringin to discuss what action is to be taken against the government and this should include legal action and lodging reports with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the police for abuse of power,” he said.

Tajem also said that the people especially the Iban Remuns have been living in the area for several decades.

“If the government needs the land for oil palm, where do we resettle thousands of these people?” he asked.