KAPIT: Owners of Native Customary Rights (NCR) land can add value to their land through engagement in joint ventures (JVs) with large corporations.
According to Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing, this is the way forward for the NCR landowners.
“If you don’t change your lifestyle, then you would be left behind. Therefore, you (NCR landowners) have to support this (JV with corporations) so that parts of your land can be developed. Once you’re successful, you can send your children to have good education,” he spoke at the launch of the district’s first oil palm plantation under NCR land development by Ta Ann Pelita Baleh Sdn Bhd for Batang Rajang/BatangBaleh, which was held at the plantation site near here yesterday.
Ta Ann Pelita Baleh Sdn Bhd is the JV company under the collaboration between approved investors Ta Ann Plantation Sdn Bhd and Pelita Holdings Sdn Bhd, together with 6,800 NCR landowners.
The total accumulative cash upfront payment for the landowners is RM921,292.80.
The gross NCR land area for the whole project is 11,178 hectares, while 14,452 hectares comprise state land. The estimated area for planting covers 6,706 hectares – or 60 per cent of the NCR gross area – of the site on the confluence of Baleh River and Rajang River.
On division of equities in the JV company, Ta Ann Plantation holds 60 per cent, Pelita Holdings holds 10 per cent, while the NCR landowners have 30 per cent.
Upon implementation, the project should benefit 1,360 families from the participating 68 longhouses.
Adding on, Masing – who is also Infrastructure Development and Transportation Minister and Baleh assemblyman – assured the NCR landowners that they must not worry about their land being taken away under the JV.
“In fact, your land is developed under your name, and so is the title. Moreover, you are being paid to work on your land. If you work hard, you will reap the dividends. It costs at least RM8,000 to develop a hectare of NCR land. Without the JV from large corporations, how many of us here have the money to develop it?
“Ta Ann has come here to help. So far, 700 hectares of land have been terraced – an undertaking that has cost them (Ta Ann) RM5.6 million,” he said.
Moreover, Masing assured the local folk that they could place their trust in their leaders.
“If you don’t trust us (leaders) – myself, Hulu Rajang MP Datuk Wilson Ugak Kumbong and Pelagus assemblyman Wilson Nyabong Ijang, then who else can you trust? I’m from this area (Majau in Baleh) – how can I cheat you when I am from this area?” he pointed out, listing out the benefits that would derive from the JV such as improved road accessibility, productive and value-added land, higher income generation for the participants as well as proper and valid documentation of land ownership.
Masing also hoped that through this JV, other longhouses would come in later on.
“I can assure you that we are doing this for their benefit; don’t be suspicious of any development.”
The ceremony yesterday was also witnessed by Bukit Goram assemblyman Jefferson Jamit Unyat, Kapit Resident Joseph Belayong, Kapit District Officer Elvis Didit, Bukit Mabong District Officer Douglas Pungga and local community leader Penghulu Sallang Batang.
Ta Ann was represented by its chief executive officer Dato Wong Kuo Hea, executive director Wong Siik Onn, and directors Dato Awang Bemee Awang Ali Basah and Ting Lina.
From Pelita Holdings were its acting senior manager George Lention Indang, and personnel Francis Kiyuk and Reynolds Petrus.