KUCHING: Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Adenan Satem has dismissed allegation ofthe opposition as well as foreign and domestic non-governmental organisations that the state government does not recognise native customary rights (NCR) land.
Adenan, who is also Minister of Resource Planning and Environment, also dismissed allegation that the state government is depriving the native of their untitled ancestral land without extinguishment of their rights and payment of adequate compensation.
“I must place on record that these allegations are unfounded and even malicious. The government categorically denies them,” he said in his winding-up speech yesterday.
Adenan said the government recognised rights created by natives over land in accordance with their customary laws, adding that it was accepted that after 1958, when the Land Code came into force, no NCR could be created except over interior area land and a permit under Section 10 (3) issued by the superintendent of Land and Survey Department.
“Section 5(2)(b) expressly provides that when the issue arises as to whether NCR has been created, acquired, lost or extinguished, shall be determined according to the law immediately in force before Jan 1, 1958.”
He said the native customary law that was applicable before 1958, as documented in the Rajah’s Orders, the codified ‘Adat’ of the various communities and decisions of the courts prior or after Malaysia Day, was that the person, who felled virgin jungle, occupied and cultivated the cleared area, had the rights to that felled area, known as ‘temuda’ in the Iban language.
“Such land could be inherited or given by away of gift to a relation or descendant or someone from the same longhouses or village.”
Adenan said from 1958, the land administration in Sarawak was based on the principle that NCR land was temuda land, adding that historical records, such as aerial photographs taken by the British Royal Air Force and land use maps prepared by the Land and Survey Department; in 1958, there were approximately 1.5 million hectares of NCR land, owned by the natives in Sarawak.
“Land, which is not temuda land, had since 1958, been used by the government for implementation of development projects or alienated to other communities or the private sector for agriculture, residential or commercial usage, or licences for logging of timber and exploration and extraction of minerals, issued under the Forests Ordinance or Minerals Ordinance respectively.
“In other words, non-temuda land are put into economic use to facilitate the development of the state.” He said titles to temuda land had been issued to natives, free of premium and in perpetuity under Section 18 (1) of the Land Code.