Tuesday, November 19

Opposition gets flak from Masing over NCR land survey

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Tan Sri Dr James Masing

KUCHING: Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing yesterday hit out at the opposition for harping on issues over perimeter survey on native customary rights (NCR) land.

The Baleh assemblyman said the opposition will be bankrupt of ideas if land issue is taken away from their political means to bring down the government of the day.

Masing said the opposition knew very well that land issue is sensitive and by twisting the fact they were hoping to make the people become emotional and irrational.

“They (opposition) just want to look relevant. They can’t allow NCR land issue to die a natural death because they will too die a natural death,” the Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president told The Borneo Post yesterday.

Most NCR land owners however know what they actually want from the government and are glad that the perimeter survey on NCR land is initiated, he pointed out.

“The first thing we should ask ourselves (NCR land owners) is that what do we want? Obviously the answer would be to distinguish what is NCR land and what is state land as we (NCR land owners) want to avoid quarrelling with the state government. Then the next thing to go for is of course perimeter survey pursuant to getting certainty of ownership,” he said.

“We should get NCR land surveyed once and for all, then only will we know exactly the total acreage of NCR land we are having,” he added.

Masing opined that it would be wise for NCR land owners to get their Temuda and Tembawai surveyed first rather than Pemakai Menua and Pulau Galau.

“Why should they want to get the Pemakai Menua and Pulau Galau surveyed first when almost 90 per cent of the NCR land are in fact Temuda and Tembawai? Fight for the survey of what is yours (Temuda and Tembawai) first before thinking of getting Pemakai Menua and Pulau Galau – which made up on only 10 per cent of the overall NCR land in Sarawak – be surveyed first. Why fight for the 10 per cent only to lose the 90 per cent in the end?” he pointed out.

Pemakai Menua is an Iban term referring to a territorial domain of a longhouse community where customary rights to land resource were created by pioneering ancestors.

Pulau Galau – an Iban term referring to a communal reserve purposely left reserved, uncleared and unfarmed for future resources by longhouse community.

Temuda is also an Iban term referring to cultivated land that has been left to fallow for a certain period of time while Tembawai refers to old longhouse site.

On the issue of whether Section 6 that governs perimeter survey of communal or traditional village land should be used first rather than Section 18 (one governing perimeter survey on individual NCR plots), Masing said he prefers the survey to be systematic, starting with perimeter survey under Section 6 as it will save time and money apart from being extensive.

And after that is done, survey on individual NCR lands can be conducted under Section 18, he added.

He said he had never suggested that Section 6 substitute Section 18, stressing all he wanted was for land matters to be handled systematically and economically.

“Section 18 will take longer time and is very expensive to implement while Section 6 takes less time and covers bigger area, for instance communal area of a longhouse or village, but after the Section 6 implementation, individual survey under Section 18 can be carried out,” he reiterated.

“Section 6 and Section 18 are on the process of surveying NCR land but the end result is still the same. Security on NCR land is assured,” he added.

Last Monday, Masing called on the Land and Survey Department to expedite the implementation of the NCR land perimeter survey initiative. He highlighted the need for the department to be more aggressive and urgent in completing the surveying work and ensure that the 2015 target is achieved.

He feared that the surveying work was conducted at quite a slow pace in some areas of the state.