Top posts

Featured Posts

STAR: Don’t Play With Words, NCR is Life

“The Chief Minister need to realize that NCR and native lands are life to the natives and too precious and should not play with words to hoodwink the natives” said Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, STAR Sabah Chief, in response to the Chief Minister’s reply in the State Legislative Assembly on Monday that the government has given priority to native rights.

The government’s ploy in using the State Attorney General and more recently the Lands and Surveys Director to state the government’s policy that NCR did not exist after 1930 has obviously backfired.  The move had incurred the wrath of the natives and reduced substantially the support of the Umno/BN government especially for the local KDM parties, PBS and Upko.

The Chief Minister’s statement is clearly an attempt to pacify the natives and to hoodwink them into thinking that the government is protecting and safeguarding the native rights when it is abundantly clear that native rights and NCR have been ignored and sidelined throughout the entire State.

NCR and Native Lands is Life

It cannot be more emphasized than the decision of the learned Kota Kinabalu High Court Judge who ruled in March 2011 that native customary rights was equivalent to a ‘right to life’ in setting aside the conviction of 6 natives who were found guilty of trespass in the Kuala Tomani Forest Reserve, Tenom.   The learned Judge also overturned the ruling of the lower court which in effect establishes the law that NCR can be claimed in a forest reserve.

The learned Judge went on to add that “The legal status of native customary rights in this country, in my view, is well established,” and cited several cases to support his view.

The State Attorney General has appealed against the decision of the said Judge.  This is equal to the government saying that the natives have no NCR and should be convicted and sent to jail.

How much more cruel can this present Umno/BN state government be?   The irony is that such a policy is supported by Sabah KDM parties like PBS and Upko who should by right be the strongest supporter and advocate of native rights including NCR.

Lest we forget, the government and the BN component leaders should be reminded that in the recent past, the Forestry Department have not only evicted natives but have in fact torched their homes and destroyed their crops and plants.

Umno/BN State Government Does Not Respect NCRN or Prioritize Sabahans

In land administration and practice, the State government has failed to protect and safeguard NCR claims and it is wrong for the Lands and Surveys Department to impose on the natives to “apply” for their NCR lands via a land application (LA) or “permohonantanah (PT)” when all is required by the Land Ordinance is for the natives to stake their claims.  Under the Land Ordinance, it is imperative on the government right down to the village head or “ketua kampong” to verify and confirm the NCR.  It is not right to ask the natives to apply for NCR and be treated as a land application.

This may be the reason why the Chief Minister has given the figure that there were only 615 claims for NCR for the past 15 years of which 338 cases are still pending.   For the information of the CM, there are many, many cases of NCR claims which may be classified as land applications and many have been pending for years with a particular case which was told to the Lands and Surveys Director at a national forum in January 2012 that his application is still pending after 31 years.

The CM has also failed to explain that under the Land Ordinance, lands under lawful occupation as in NCR cases are excluded from state or government land.  It is mischievous for him to merely state illegal occupation (and implying to include lawful occupation via NCR)does not confer legal land rights or conclude that all State lands belonged to the State government after 1930.

As the law stands on December 13, 1930 or even now, the natives have every legal right to NCR and to claim for the land rights.

If the Chief Minister and the Umno/BN government agrees with the views of the State Attorney General and the Lands and Surveys Director (which appears to be the case in view of the large number and land and NCR conflicts throughout the State), the government should amend the law to clearly recognize NCR and to update the law in accordance with today’s needs and to simplify the process of NCR claims for the benefit of the natives.

If the State government and their leaders have doubts, they should refer to the Land and NCR Reforms of STAR Sabah for guidance.

The numbers given by the Chief Minister also clearly shows that there is no priority for lands to be approved for natives as only 24.7% of the State lands are given to natives and that the government also did not prioritize the alienation of land to the local Sabahans.

No Sense of Urgency

The native land rights issue in Sabah is critical and needs an urgent solution (as was highlighted by the YB of Sukau) and not rhetorics.  Unlike the rhetorics of the Chief Minister, if the Umno/BN government had done all the right things in defending the people, all the land disputes would not have happened.

“If the Umno/BN government fails to resolve the land disputes and problems and the NCR issue, the natives such as in Sukau, Tongod, Pitas and Sook, who are forced from their homes, may have no choice but to take up arms to defend themselves and their lands and properties.

Set Up Land Tribunal and Establish Clear Land Policy

On step forward to be taken to resolve the land disputes is to immediately establish the Land Tribunal.

Another immediate step that the government needs to be take is to come up with a clear Land and NCR Policy that prioritize native rights as well as for the ordinary Sabahans for other lands and not for outsiders.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Search This Blog