Monday, December 9

Bakun resettlers have rights to ancestral lands – Masing

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Zulkifle (second left) presents a memento to SRB controller William Jinep as Masing and Tony (left) look on.

Zulkifle (second left) presents a memento to SRB controller William Jinep as Masing and Tony (left) look on.

BELAGA: The natives from upper Balui area who were relocated to Sg Asap to make way for the Bakun dam will be allowed to carry out cultivation activities at their ancestral lands located one km from the dam.

The good news was revealed by Land Development Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing, who believed they had rights to the land.

“You are allowed to cultivate, that land is yours and the government will assist you on how to make it as communal land for all of you.

“You have left it and went to Sg Asap, but that land is still yours and you can plant whatever you want on it. The government will ensure the land is surveyed and under your names,” he said when declaring open a floating jetty and waiting area at Balui lake yesterday.

Earlier, Balui Lake Native Association (BLNA) chairman Pemanca Tony Kulleh asked that the communal land in upper Balui area be used for cultivation activities.

“I’ve talked to Ir Zulkifle Osman (Sarawak Hidro managing director), how far is the danger zone and he said it is one km from Bakun Dam,” said Masing.

However, Masing said the approval must come from the Land and Survey Department but his ministry would assist in the process.

“My ministry and I, Sarawak Hidro and Datuk Wilson Ugak who is Hulu Rajang MP will talk to the appropriate authority and Sarawak government, to allow them to go back and cultivate the area that they left behind,” he assured.

Meanwhile, Pemanca Tony Kulleh when interviewed said those who moved from Ulu Balui to Sg Asap were already aware of the matter.

“But we need assurance from the government that we can go back and cultivate the land.

“We are asking for the rights of each village here to be given back, the three-acre land in Sg Asap is not enough,” he said.

He added even their first generation who cultivated the three-acre land found it to be inadequate to meet the needs of the whole family.

“I urge the government to recognise and conduct perimeter survey on the land. It is good news for Sg Asap villagers because we were worried that we don’t have the rights go back to Ulu Balui anymore,” said Tony.