Did you sign away NCR land, Masing?

By Joseph Tawie, Free Malaysia Today

KUCHING: Land Development Minister James Masing has come under fire for his alleged involvement in converting a native customary rights (NCR) property into state land, which has resulted in a legal dispute between the natives of Rumah Ranggong in Ulu Niah and BLD Resources Sdn Bhd.

BLD Resources is suing the natives from Rumah Ranggong for trespassing on its property. The natives, who are claiming their NCR right on the land, are counter-suing and the case is pending in the Kuching High Court.  

Masing, when contacted by FMT, said it was a “serious allegation” against him.

“I can’t recall (signing the deed). I will check with my officers. It is a very serious allegation. I will take to task anybody involved including the media,” he said. 

Masing had allegedly signed a deed of rescission on Oct 29, 2008 declaring the NCR land belonging to the residents of Rumah Ranggong, Ulu Niah, as state land.

Masing admitted that the land was declared state land in 2002 but maintained that it was not by him. 

“Yes the land was declared state land, but not by me. I don’t have the authority.

“Consequently, as minister in charge-cum-chairman of the Sarawak Land Development Board (SLDB) which was the managing agent then, I rescinded the joint venture (JV) in October 2008 because my authority deals only with NCR land,” he said.

Other signatories to the deed were Chaiti Bolhassan who is the general manager of SLDB, Henry Lau  and Wan Abdillah Hamid, who are both directors of BLD Resources.

It is learnt that because the deed was signed without the knowledge of the landowners to rescind the JV agreement, it had sparked a dispute between the natives and the company.

Where’s the money?

According to Changgai Anak Dali, chairman of the longhouse development and security committee, it was for this reason that he was sued by BLD Resources.

“I was sued by BLD Resofor trespassing in my own land and this triggered our land dispute, and we filed a counter suit which is now undergoing trial at the Kuching High Court.

“Last year, we wrote a letter to BLD Resources to demand our land back and also to settle our long overdue dividends from the project, but we received no response and this is when we decided to erect our blockade in January this year,” said Changgai.