MIRI: The Licence for Planted Forests (LPF) issued by the Forest Department will not affect the Native Customary Rights (NCR) land of the people, assures Mulu assemblyman Datuk Gerawat Gala.
According to him, the department has confirmed that within the LPF itself, it is clearly stated that NCR land is excluded.
“So, there is no issue about people losing (NCR) land because the condition itself says that NCR land is excluded (from LPF), and that LPF is only a licence to occupy the land, meant for planting, for 60 years – it is not a land title, which could only be issued by the Land and Survey Department.
“The LPF refers only to the right of using the land (for plantation), but not owning it. With regard to any issue over ownership, NCR land or otherwise, the land is not affected by the LPF,” he told reporters when met after chairing a briefing on LPF here recently, which was attended by some 100 community leaders from Telang Usan and Mulu state constituencies.
In this respect, Gerawat dismissed all allegations about land grab by the government as being ‘totally false, and with no basis’.
“They (certain quarters) just want to make the people angry – they’re out to provoke the people to say that the government is grabbing the land.
“That is why we want the leaders to come here and get the right information, and then explain it to the people so the people would not get upset unnecessarily,” he stressed.
On the briefing, Gerawat said the rural community had requested for a session on LPF with the representatives of the Forest Department.
According to him, there were a few LPFs issued for the Baram area back in the early 90s, but the people there were still unfamiliar with this licensing.
“So, (Telang Usan assemblyman) YB Dennis Ngau took the initiative to approach the Forest Department and have it conduct a briefing for all our community leaders together with our councillors and the committee members of GPS (Gabungan parti Sarawak) component parties.
“It’s important (because) there are many longhouses located very close to these LPF-issued land parcels,” said Gerawat.
He also stressed the importance for the elected representatives of rural constituencies to make sure that their constituents could obtain accurate and up-to-date information.
“Our hope as the ‘wakil rakyat’ (elected representatives), who include myself, YB Dennis, YB Datu Dr Penguang Manggil (Marudi assemblyman) and YB Anyi Ngau (Baram MP) as the ‘Baram Team’, is to make sure that our people would get the right, up-to-date information so that they would, in turn, relay this information to their fellow villagers.
“Basically, this dialogue is to empower our grassroots leaders and communities.”
According to Forest Department Sarawak data, there are six LPF areas in Baram.
“These six LPF areas in Baram cover over 380,000 hectares, which is quite huge. However, we know for a fact that not all these areas are being planted, because some areas are either too mountainous or very swampy.
“These six areas are within Mulu and Telang Usan (constituencies) – possibly some parts also go into Marudi,” disclosed Gerawat.
Meanwhile, Dennis reiterated Gerawat’s point about the Sarawak government having no intention of grabbing people’s land.
“The government has a strategic planning in giving licences to certain parties for development; these parties, in turn, would provide some basic infrastructures like roads, and also jobs,” he added.
Forest Department Miri officer Asan Odau was also present at the briefing.