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Borneo, Bumiputera Community, Sarawak, Sarawak Politics, Sarawakian

RM30mln for NCR land survey in 2012

WORK to survey Native Customary Rights (NCR) land in Sarawak will get another RM30 million in 2012.

This shows the commitment of the government to protect the rights of native land owners under the NCR land new initiative.

In 2010, the government allocated RM20 million for the task. This increased to RM30 million this year and with the RM30 million for next year, a total of RM80 million would have been committed to the project.

Previously NCR land had no titles. It was basically passed down from generation to generation orally. Our land is from that tree to that stream etc kind of thing.

See the problem with this is sometimes landowners will abandon their land.

Then some other villagers come along and use the land, taking care of the fruit trees etc for a few years. Let’s say the land suddenly because more productive than in the past.

Then the original landowners’ progeny decide they want to return to their roots, so they stake claim to the land. This causes disputes with the villagers who have been using the land in the last few years. Sometimes this can be decades.

So who does the land belong to? The original landowners haven’t been using the land for years. The villagers who have been using the land have managed to get it to be more productive than it has ever been.

I won’t claim to have the solution. This is just one of many cases, which have been experience by many NCR landowners over the years.

Here’s the thing. Without proper documentation, it is one villager’s word against the other’s. Or one group of villagers against one family, which has not been actually been living in the village for several years.

If the land has been surveyed and gazetted and land title issued, there would be concrete proof of its ownership. What landowners need to do is resolve disputes and ensure that what is rightfully theirs is surveyed and gazetted by the government.

There are also other benefits for owners of NCR land once land titles are issued.

The issuance of individual land titles would enable them to apply for financial assistance as well as funding from banks and other government agencies. This would create more opportunities for them to reap benefits from their land. NCR land is an economic asset. Converting it into an instrument for investment would generate optimum benefits for the land owners.

NCR land is a heritage passed down through the generations. It is reassuring to know that this heritage will now be protected through the NCR land New Initiative.

A report from The Borneo Post:

RM30mln for NCR land survey next year

KUCHING: The federal government has allocated a further RM30 million next year for surveying native customary rights (NCR) lands in Sarawak, bringing to RM80 million the total amount allocated for this since it started in 2010.

Additionally an initial RM10 million allocation will be given by the federal government to build a Native Court to handle customary laws like settling NCR land disputes.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Dato Sri Douglas Uggah Embas, announcing this yesterday, said this was the result of the formation of a special cabinet committee and technical committee for Sarawak and Sabah Bumiputera groups.

“In Sarawak, we still have issues of poverty, infrastructure and education. The prime minister set up this special committee (last year) to look into these issues.

“One of the outcomes from this committee is the survey of NCR land in Sarawak. In 2010, RM20 million was allocated; in 2011, RM30 million and 2012, RM30 million.

“The other decision was to build a Mahkamah Anak Negeri (native court) with an initial allocation of RM10 million,” he told reporters after opening a luncheon talk organised by Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) at a leading hotel here.

Uggah, who is a member of the Cabinet Committee and deputy chairman of its technical committee, said another RM1 million was allocated to do an inventory of logging roads in Sarawak that included taking photos of and listing down logging roads.

It has been completed since commencing early this year. These logging roads are mainly found in Miri and Bintulu divisions.

“The purpose of the inventory is to know the number of logging roads, their location, and whether abandoned or still used by the logging company. These logging roads can be used by the people,” he said. They could be upgraded to provide access to longhouses and the interior. The cabinet committee on Sarawak and Sabah Bumiputera groups, formed in April 2010, was chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak while its technical commitee chaired by Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok.

Uggah, who is also Betong MP, said the formation of the committees on Sarawak and Sabah Bumiputera groups was evidence of the inclusiveness of the New Economic Model (NEM).

He also said RM100 million each were allocated to Sarawak and Sabah last year following labs held to find solutions to issues in both states.

“The policy of inclusiveness is not just political rhetoric, but a policy to be practised. The setting up of the committee is to ensure all races benefit from the Government Transformation Programme including the New Economic Model,” he said.

On another matter, Uggah was happy with disaster relief management of flood hit areas in the country including the recent flood in Pantu.

“In Malaysia, we have a very organised taskforce. We hope there will be no major floods like the one in Bangkok, Thailand,” he said.

How The Star reported it:

RM30mil more for surveying NCR land

KUCHING: An additional RM30mil will be used to survey the perimeters of native customary rights (NCR) land in the state next year.

Environment and Natural Resour- ces Minister Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas said last year, RM10mil had been used for the purpose, and there was still a lot more to be done.

“This year RM30mil had been allocated, and RM30mil more will be available for next year,” said Uggah.

He said the survey was initiated by the recently formed Sarawak Sabah Cabinet Committee which he chaired to address land issues faced by the bumiputras of Sabah and Sarawak.

In relation to that, the committee had also completed the inventory and documentation of logging roads in the state.

He said the purpose was to identify logging roads to be utilised by the rural people.

“A total of RM1mil had been used for this purpose. Many of the roads are in Bintulu and Miri divisions,” said Uggah, who also revealed that RM10mil had been allocated for the construction of a Native Court building.

He said it was high time for the court to have its own building due to the increase in the number of issues affecting bumiputras in the state.

“The court deals with native customs, marriage and land disputes to name a few,” he said.

However, the location of the building was not revealed as it was still in the proposal stage.

A report from The Sunday Post:

Smiles all around when NCR land surveyed

KOTA SAMARAHAN: There was a sense of relief and smiles all around as the villagers of Kpg Tanjung Bundong heard that the Land and Survey Department had finally finished the perimeter survey of their NCR land. According to the Land and Survey Department, the perimeter survey of Kpg. Tanjung Bundong and Kpg Tanjung Parang’s NCR land spanning some 138.9 hectares was completed last February. The exercise only took a month to complete.

The surveyed land is now in the process of being gazetted as native communal reserve – in this case, following Malay Customary Rights. This is expected to benefits 230 claimants from the primarily Malay village. The perimeter survey exercise in the two villages is just one example of the government’s initiative to survey NCR land throughout the state which began on large scale last year.

The whole exercise is expected to be completed by 2015, which is exciting news for the villages of Kpg. Tanjung Bundong and Kpg. Tanjung Parang.

Brighter Future Ahead

“For now we hope that our NCR land will be gazetted as soon as possible so that we can apply for individual titles,” said Wahab Let. “This would be the day we are looking forward to so that it will be easier for us to obtain loans from banks and develop our land.” For villagers like Wahab, the issuance of individual land titles would enable them to apply for financial assistance as well as funding from banks and other government agencies, thus creating more opportunities for them to reap benefits from their land.

Recognition of Rightful Ownership

Penghulu Dahari Man welcomed the initiative, disclosing that the community had applied for their land to be surveyed since 1997. “As there was no response to the first application, we followed it up with another application in 2003,” he related. Dahari said his people were looking forward to obtaining the titles as it would recognised their rightful and legal ownership of their land which has been passed down from generation to generation over hundreds of years.

Echoing his felloe villagers, Dahari dismissed claims that people would sell off their land as soon as they obtained their individual land titles in the near future. “There may be a few individuals who will resort to this for shot-term gains but by and large, I think most of the villagers would never part with their most treasured heritage,” he pointed out.

Dahari said that the villagers are now better educated and knowledgeable of the value of their inheritance and would be looking for better alternative to get greater returns from their land. “We can also develop our land for commercial agriculture as there are many government agencies such as Felcra and Felda which are willing to invest in our land,” he added.

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