Uggah challenged to a debate on NCR over land issue

Paul Raja

KUCHING: The organisers of the just concluded Dayak National Conference (PKD 2018), Sarawak Dayak Graduates Association (SDGA) and Dayak National Congress (DNC) are expressing their disappointment with Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas for being suspicious of the intention of the PKD 2018.

They now wanted to challenge Uggah to a debate on RTM TV1 live on the issue of native customary rights (NCR) over land on a date of Uggah’s convenience.

Quite recently, Uggah said he was puzzled as to why certain quarters in PKD2018 are still ignorance of the fact that a law to recognise and giving the NCRs force of law, has been effected. Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau also made such a query in support of Uggah who is also Minister for the Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development.

The PKD 2018 organisers, SDGA and DNC then issued a joint press statement charging that Uggah had accused them of being ignorance on the Land Code Amendment 2018.

“If Uggah is so sure of the security of our land tenure in them amendment, we are challenging him to an open debate live on RTM. Let the people judge.”

“By accusing the organisers of the conference as ignorant, he is underestimating the intelligence of 1,300 Dayaks.”

The joint statement also claimed Uggah repeatedly said that usufructuary right is – the right to use and the right to own – perpetually.

The Free Dictionary defines “usufructuary right” as “a Civil Law term referring to the right of one individual to use and enjoy the property of another, provided its substance is neither impaired nor altered”.

“Is Uggah saying that the dictionary is wrong or lying? ” they asked.

“The Ketua Masyarakat Conference in January 2018 organised by Uggah himself resolved that our pemakai menoa is ‘full proprietary right’; why didn’t he follow the resolution?”

“Does Uggah know that the term is a colonial term to refer derogatively to the natives as squatters on government land?”

“Can the people be hoodwinked into believing that 500 or 1000 hectares is the area of their pemakai menoa (PM)?”

The custom of pemakai menoa has never been restricted by hectarage, the joint statement said.

“The new law giving the rights to only own 500 to 1000 hectares in no longer the custom of pemakai mneoa but a statutory right,” they said.

The new law makes no provision for pulau galau (PG) and by failing to provide for pulau galau, the custom comes to an end, they said.

NCR lands exist by way of customs and therefore NCR rights are rights acquired under the customs of the natives; not given under statute law, they said.

“As long as the NTD (new name of the NCRs PMPG under the new law) is not approved by the government, there in no force of law, they claimed.

“Can the government guarantee that it will provide all the longhouses in Sarawak be issued with title as they promised?”

“If the government based on past experience could not even issue titles to native lands surveyed in the 1950s in Simanggang, 1970s in Bintulu, how can we trust them to even issue bigger titles now that are already covered by provisional leases / leases to plantation companies?”

The Dayak community is asking for one thing but the government is giving another thing,” they claimed.

They said Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government which transformed itself from Barisan Nasional (BN) is truly testing the wrath of the Dayak community.

“As long as our pemakai menoa and pulau galau are not recognized based on the Adat Asal, expect ‘Zero Vote” from the Dayak community. All Dayaks voters in Sarawak must withdraw their support from the GPS government ” they said

“If Uggah truly believe that his amendment is the best security for our pemakai menoa, we are more than happy to debate with him live on RTM to be beamed nationwide. Just pick up the time and place for the debate, we will be there,” the joint press statement said.

The joint press statement was delivered by DNC Paul Raja.

Paul said SDGA president while Dr Dusit Jaul and PKD 2018 organsing chairman Patrick Sibat Sujang has signed the document together with him.

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