Wednesday, December 11

Baru says to table Private Member’s Bill in next sitting


KUCHING: Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian said he will table a Private Member’s Bill to amend the state Land Code in the upcoming State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting in May.

Baru, who is state PKR chairman and prominent NCR land lawyer, said one of the contents in his proposal would be to amend Section 2 of the Sarawak Land Code on the definition of NCR land.

“I will propose to include cleared/farmed land (temuda or its equivalent), reserved forest area (pulau galau/pulau or its equivalent), and communal land/territorial domain (pemakai menua or its equivalent) as another definition of NCR land.

“I propose the term ‘equivalent’ because different ethnic groups will have different terminology but the concept is the same,” he told a press conference here yesterday.

Baru said the tabling of the Private Member’s Bill was in accordance with the advice given by Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Adenan Satem during the DUN sitting last year.

“When I tabled a motion to amend the definition of NCR under Section 2 of the Land Code, it was shot down. There was a suggestion from Adenan that I should table a Private Member’s Bill so in accordance with that advice, I’m moving the assembly to table this Private Member’s Bill.”

Besides that, Baru’s proposed bill would also include the proposal to among others, allow temuda land to be transferred or acquired by any local natives, similar to the state government’s proposal as announced by Adenan last Thursday.

“In fact, this was suggested in my motion in the last sitting as well. This (proposal) was prepared even before the chief minister had proposed to amend the Land Code in the DUN sitting in November.”

Baru said the amendment of the Land Code would be a general permission to allow sales and purchase of temuda land but if an ethnic group in Sarawak has a custom that goes against the new law, then that custom should prevail.

“Many natives may be worried that if we allow this amendment, we will allow the rich and powerful to buy NCR land but Section 8 of the Land Code disallows non-native to get the right over native land.”

He said the advantage of amending the Land Code to allow temuda land to be transferred or acquired by
any local natives was that once it was permissible to sell the NCR land among natives, it would broaden the market.

“If you restrict only to one community, then of course the price will be low but if you allow the natives to
sell the NCR land among them, the price of the land will go up. That is why mixed zone land is more expensive than native land.”

Baru said no native would oppose to this proposed amendment and believed that the Speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar would allow this bill that was good for the people of Sarawak to be debated.

“I’m just doing what was suggested. I tabled a motion (during last sitting) but it was thrown out. They asked me to pass a private bill and I did it. If they throw the bill out again then I would seek their advice on what the next step is. I’m going to do it.

“I don’t mind if they (state government) take over my bill. They can copy it and pass it in the next round.
No problem. The end result is important. We want to do what is right and affirmed by the courts and we don’t want to run away from what is beneficial to the people.”

Baru estimated that if pemakai menua, pulau galau and temuda were included as NCR land, the total area of NCR land in the state would be about seven million hectares.

“The figures may look very big but it is a recognition that the land belongs to the natives. It is not to say that the natives will take back the land but as a recognition of their rights.”