Society seeks to see draft bill on Land Code amendments


Pahang (right) shows a copy of the declarations handed over to Uggah’s office. – Photo by Chimon Upon

KUCHING: The Society for Rights of Indigenous People of Sarawak (Scrips) has requested to examine the draft bill for amendments to the Sarawak Land Code relating to pemakai menoa and pulau galau.

Legal advisor Henry Joseph Usau said the affected local communities must be given the opportunity to see the draft before it is finalised and tabled during the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting next month.

“We want to ask for the draft to be given to us so that the people and our lawyers can go through it to see if there is a necessity to amend the draft bill before it is being tabled and passed in the DUN sitting,” he told reporters outside Wisma Bapa Malaysia here yesterday.

“We have every right as voters to know what is being amended and deleted. Let the people have the opportunity to see the draft to see if there is a necessity to amend before the whole thing comes to a finality.”

Henry and coordinator Michael Jok led a group to hand over ‘Tanah Adat Declarations’ to Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas at his office.

It was received by an officer as Uggah was attending preparations for the Sarawak-level Gawai celebration.

According to Henry, the document contained the people’s declarations as well as important facts and information from meetings held with leaders and groups from the Orang Ulu, Bidayuh, Iban, Lun Bawang, Melanau, and Malay community over the past three years.

“The declarations are meant to tell the world these belong to us … like having a wife, you tell the world, this is my wife so no one can take. So we want to declare what rightfully belongs to us,” he said.

“We are not challenging anybody but our objective is to tell people and the world that these are our lands. There are plots of land all over Sarawak from Lawas all the way to Bau and Lundu belonging to thousands of indigenous communities out there.”

On the complexities of defining Native Customary Rights (NCR) land, Pahang Deng – a former temenggong – from Long Pelutan Daleh in Baram, said it was not difficult unless the facts were twisted.

“There are certain quarters or individuals who we felt have twisted the facts saying NCR is land for temuda only. No! NCR comprises the land, soil, stones, timber, river, and whatever resources found in the land, they belong to us,” he said.

“They say farmland is NCR but that’s only part of it. The ‘interbeing’ or interconnection with the land, such customs and traditions have been practised generations after generations.”

Pahang added they are not against the people opening up and developing the land, but there must be benefits given to the villagers.