Saturday, August 20

Wee: Let’s hope promised land free of disputes

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KUCHING: Sarawak United Association of Chinese Secondary School Management Board is keeping its fingers crossed that the recently approved 2,000-hectare land in Miri will not be caught up in Native Customary Right (NCR) land disputes.

Its deputy chairman Richard Wee said the board looked forward to getting the land soon so that it could use it to generate income for Chinese independent schools state-wide.

“We just want the land to be alienated to the board as soon as possible. Of course, we hope the land — situated between Miri and Kapit — is not too hilly and steep for plantation.

“Above all, we do not want to have NCR problems,” he said when contacted here yesterday.

During the State Legislative Assembly sitting last month, Second Minister of Resource Planning and Environment Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan said the state government had approved the land at Sungai Silat/Sungai Salutan/Sungai Agan in Miri for the board.

He added that the Land and Survey Department (LSD) would alienate the land as soon as a trust board was set up to manage the property.

Wee said the board had submitted a list of proposed trustees to facilitate the alienation procedure.

“If I am not mistaken, all the proposed trustees are existing board members of the various Chinese independent schools in Sarawak. I do not remember the exact number of trustees proposed, but Vincent Lau (chairman of the board) and I are on the list.

“We are currently waiting for an approval for the formation of a charitable trust board by Minister of Welfare, Women and Family Development Datuk Fatimah Abdullah.”

Wee admitted that he was disappointed with “the delay of the whole process”.

He lamented that it had been a long while since Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud pledged the 2,000 hectares of land for Chinese independent schools to overcome their financial constraints.

“It has been almost three years since the chief minister agreed to give us the land. Up to now, we are still stuck with the bureaucratic process. It is frustrating.”

Taib promised to alienate the land during a dialogue session with the Chinese community here in Dec 2010.

The promise came before the 10th state election in April 2011.

Last month, Second Finance Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh told reporters that the alienation process required time and had now come to the final stage.

He said he hoped that the proposed trust board would be adopted at the state Cabinet meeting this month.