Dayak NGOs rally support for Land Code to be amended immediately

MIRI: Two Dayak-based organisations issued a joint statement yesterday to call for all Dayaks to unite and demand that Sarawak Land Code be amended immediately.

Sarawak Dayak Association (Pedas) and Dayak Think Tank Group (DTTG) demanded that the government find a transparent resolution to the matter.

“The people have given the Barisan Nasional (BN) mandate for over a century, and they should repay by protecting the rights of the Dayaks from being abused,” said the statement, signed by Pedas president Captain (R) Collin Imran and the founder of DTTG, Wellie Henry Majang.

It added that justice must be given to owners of native customary rights (NCR) land, who, it claimed, would not hesitate to carry out a street protest to demand for immediate amendment to the Sarawak Land Code.

“Dayak politicians are clearly aware of the law, but as politicians they are not able to drive the state government to amend the Land Code.

“The state government has always gotten a big mandate during state elections and now there are two Dayak leaders holding the post of Deputy Chief Minister,” said the statement further.

It added that the setting up of Pemakai Menua/Pulau Galau (PMPG) Committee was good news to the natives of Sarawak but said the committee should have acted without delay.

It said the committee “seemed to be on a dead end without any action for almost a year now.”

“The Dayaks have lost many cases involving NCR land claims and they are losing trust in state leaders to resolve their NCR land problems in court. They are also fed-up with the state government which is seen as failing to protect their rights.

“If the leaders fail in carrying out the duties entrusted to them by the rakyat, it is better that they respectfully resign from their post,” said the statement.

The two Dayak NGOs want the state government to come up with a comprehensive resolution that will protect the rights of NCR land owners.

Citing the recent case of longhouse chiefs TR Sandah and TR Nyutan who lost in their battle to defend their NCR lands, the NGOs said that it is vital to amend the land code to ensure such incidents do not happen again.

“There is no other way to resolve such matters, except to amend the Sarawak Land Code. If the state government is serious in protecting the rights of the natives, they must amend the land code immediately.

“But even after half a decade, after various court decisions, the state government still failed to do so,” the statement added.

“Unless the Dayaks can accept this fact, NCR issues in Sarawak will continue to remain unsolved in the future,” said the statement.

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