Bian: Sarawak govt wrongly advised on NCR

By Joseph Tawie, FMT

KUCHING: Is the Sarawak government being wrongly advised on the issue of native customary rights (NCR) over land?

The opposition here believes that the Attorney-General’s Chambers is not knowledgeable enough about the reach of the NCR issues and is ill-advising the state government.

Said Sarawak PKR leader Baru Bian: “The advice given (to the state government) is that NCR land only covers temuda land, and it does not cover pulau galau (communal forest), pemakai menua (territorial domain), pendam (graves) and tembawai (old longhouse sites).

“But we have proved to them that they are wrong.

“The High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court have agreed with our interpretation and have ruled that the NCR land also covers pemakai menua, pulau galau, pendam and so on.”

Asked why the state government has been ignoring the court decisions, Bian said the government was afraid that recognising the court rulings would mean that the entire state could come under NCR ownership.

“Accepting the ruling on pulau galau and pemakai menua means the whole of Sarawak belongs to the natives. That’s why the state government is worried.

“A lot of areas deemed to be state land may not be state land after all; it could be NCR land.

“Those are not my words, but the words of a government officer,” he said, citing remarks made by a government officer in the Nor Anak Nyawai case.

Indiscriminate approvals

According to the officer, if the government is to recognise pulau galau and pemakai menoa as part of NCR land, then it would have to survey all the NCR land.

Bian said the state government has been indiscriminately approving licences, leases and provisional leases covering pemakai menua, pulau galau and temuda land to oil palm and timber companies.

“Many native landowners have sued the government over its decision to take away their NCR land.