SIBU: The Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development is urged to clarify the purported approval given by the ministry to an area development committee (ADC) to develop native customary rights (NCR) land in Ulu Ngemah.
The call was made by six native land associations in Ulu Ngemah, namely Pang Junan People’s Committee (PJPA); Ulu Ngemah-Semujan Native Land Committee; Sungai Sepali People’s Association; Sungai Empurau/Lepong Gagop, Geguit Native Land Committee; Ngemah Tengah Ulu People’s Association; and Sungai Pasai Native Land Committee.
In a joint press conference held here yesterday, the groups’ spokesmen Thomas Laja and Entili Garaji said they had sighted a ministry circular dated Nov 4, 2019 which purportedly gave approval to an ADC known as ‘Pemansang Tanah Adat Menua Pesisir Empurau, Pasai, Semujan, Ngemah Ulu, Kanowit’ to develop NCR land in Ulu Ngemah.
“The approval (by the ministry to the ADC) to develop the area (Empurau, Pasai, Semujan and Ulu Ngemah) encompasses all NCR land owned by the six Ulu Ngemah native land associations, and was done without the knowledge of the land owners concerned,” said Entili, who is PJPA chairman, in reading out a press statement.
He said the six groups want the ministry to provide them the names of the committee members of the said ADC, claiming the application to develop the area was done without their knowledge.
“We also request the ministry to withdraw the approval because the majority of the NCR land owners concerned do not know about the approval given to the application made by the ADC ‘Pemansang Tanah Adat Menua Pesisir Empurau, Pasai, Semujan, Ngemah Ulu, Kanowit, Sibu’ to develop NCR land in Ulu Ngemah.
“We, the six Ulu Ngemah people’s associations, are not rejecting development which can benefit the NCR land owners concerned, but all matters to develop the said land must have the approval of the land owners,” Entili added.
He also urged the ministry to probe the authenticity of documents provided to it by the ADC in question, saying the six groups will not hesitate to initiate legal action if elements of cheating or falsification of documents are found to have taken place.