KUCHING: Datuk Mohd Naroden Majais has dismissed speculations about his involvement in the land controversy, as claimed by a group of residents from Kampung Lubok Bunting in Simunjan.
The Assistant Minister of E-Commerce has insisted about him ‘not having vested interest’ in the land deal, which he helped seal through then-chief minister, Yang Di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, for the villagers many years ago.
“As far as I remember, I was helping them on two things – namely those who did not have any land, and those who had land but left it idle and willing to surrender their land to the investor (Inderanika Jaya Sdn Bhd).
“They (villagers) entered a joint venture with them (Inderanika Jaya), and my role was only to assist. Those who did not have any land were given the land without paying a sen.
“Each head of family was given one free share, and everyone had received interim dividend right from first year (when) the investor entered the site,” he told The Borneo Post when prompted for response to the allegation.
The group of villagers, represented by legal counsel Dominique Ng, raised the issue during a press conference at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Sarawak headquarters here yesterday.
Naroden, who is Gedong assemblyman, pointed out that the free shares were given to over 4,000 household heads in Simunjan, Gedong, as well as all villages along the Sadong River from Kampung Samsu up to Benat, Gumpey and others.
“Almost everybody (the villagers) decided to sell off their shares to the investor for RM7,600 per share some time before the last Hari Raya Aidilfitri, and after the 14th general election.
“I don’t have control or say on the sales because that was their rights – either to retain or to sell.”
Naroden recalled that he received 5,000 hectares of land, as agreed upon by Taib, for the villagers in the mentioned villages.
“This was for the villagers because the Malays had no NCR (native customary rights) land. As a matter of fact, I don’t even recognise those guys who were in the picture (as shown accompanying a news report, which came out on Borneo Post Online yesterday).
“Except for one – an Amanah (Parti Amanah Negara) guy, who took on me during the 2011 state election. Those guys could be those who have not sold theirs (shares),” he said.
Naroden said this land deal happened over 10 years ago and he might need time to find out what actually took place in between the years.
He was also perplexed as to how the group came up with the figure of over 1,000 villagers affected by the so-called controversial land, with a size of over 1,000 acres.
“This village (Kampung Lubok Bunting) has only about 370 voters and about 80 houses, and cannot be 1,000 people and 1,000 acres of land (as claimed in the deal). I don’t know what they are talking about.
“This matter has been brought to the attention of MACC many times. So I can explain and I have nothing to fear,” said Naroden.
According to him, the gross area applied way back then was 5,000 hectares, but the plantable area to date is only 2,700 hectares.
“And it’s divided between the developer (70 per cent) and 4,000 shareholders (30 per cent).”
The shareholders, said Naroden, were from Simunjan, Gedong, Gumpey, Punggor, Lubok Bunting, Samsu, Sungai Ba, Senemban and several other villages.
“Lubok Bunting is one of the villages – it has only 80 families and 370 voters. So I don’t know where the rest 900 people or so come from. And 1,000 acres just for Kampung Lubok Bunting?” he argued.
In this respect, he said: “I strongly believe that the whole scenario was instigated and had political motive.
“I’m willing to cooperate with any agency – be it the MACC or the police – for any investigation on all the deals or processes involved, including how the whole thing was done right from the beginning.
“Though I am not sitting as, and has never been, a board member in any of the companies involved, I have all the information and know how the whole things were done, and also who were the people selected to be given free shares without contributing any sen to have the shares.”
Naroden added that the selection of participants – or shareholders – was done and recommended by the committee members of every branch of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) at that time.