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‘Give me back my land’

 | July 14, 2011

Sarawak DAP is inviting unhappy owners of plots of land, slapped with the controversial Section 47 notification, to band together and demand a solution from the Taib administration.

KUCHING: A housewife here is demanding that the state government return a piece of land which it had clamped in 1999, under Section 47, purportedly for construction of a school.

Shuriyanna Ahmad is not alone. Scores of other natives living a stone’s throw from the present State Legislative Assembly building have also suffered the same fate.

The government had in 1999 issued a Section 47 notification on their lands. At the time they said the land may be acquired for the construction of a secondary school.

“But until now, the government has not decided whether to develop the land or not. It has deprived us of doing something economically to our land.

“We want our land back so that we can do something useful to the land. For me, I want to build a house on that piece of land which is about 0.8 acre,” she said.

Having patiently waited 13 years, Shuriyanna has now decided to take legal action and seek the assistance of Kota Sentosa assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen.

Chong, who is also state DAP secretary, told reporters today that he had written a letter to the Land and Survey Department, State Planning and Resource Management Minister Awang Tengah Ali Hassan and Chief Minister Taib Mahmud requesting the Section 47 notification to be lifted.

He said if the government decided to acquire the land for development, then the state authorties must pay the landowners the market price of the land at the time the Section 47 notification was imposed on the property. In this case it was in 1999.

“This is highly unfair to her. For the last 13 years, the land prices in Kuching have gone up by leaps and bounds.

“Some prices of land have even doubled.

“And yet because of the (present) law (land code) the government is taking advantage and victimising the landowners,” he said.

Inadequate compensation

Recalling a statement made by Awang in 2007, Chong said Awang Tengah had indicated that the government would review the need to acquire lands that came under Section 47 every two years.

“Until today there is no review, and nothing has been done. Shuriyanna’s land is still subject to Section 47 and so are the lands nearby,” he said, adding that some 60 acres of land are involved.

Chong, who is also the Bandar Kuching MP, said that the problem facing the landowners is that they cannot do anything to the land after the imposition of Section 47.

He said the landowners were also concerned about their likely losses because compensations will be calculated at the market price at the time Section 47 was imposed.

They feel this is insufficient.

“Another thing that I want to highlight is that Section 47 issued previously involved a lot of Chinese landowners. Now Section 47 also affected native customary right (NCR) landowners.

“This unfair land law is not an issue that affects a single race. It affects people across the board,” he said.

“A reasonable government once it imposed Section 47 notification within two or three years should pay fair compensation after acquiring the land. You cannot keep the landowners in limbo.

“So I call on those landowners whose lands are situated near Shuriyanna’s land or the neighbouring land affected by Section 47 to come forward to contact us.

“We can join forces to not only consider taking the matter to the court but to exert political pressure on the government to lift the Section 47 notification,” he said.

SUPP’s failure

Citing the case of landowners at Bako and Sejingkat, Chong said their lands were affected by the same section in 1973, and the government in 2010 decided to acquire the lands and compensate the landowners based on the market price of 1973.

He said that the landowners were lucky because the issue came up before the state election.

Since these landowners have the size and the number, the government was then worried about the election results.

“So despite having acquired the lands, after repeated pressure and protests by these landowners, the government finally aborted the acquisition of their lands because of political pressure,” he said.

In the April 16 election, land issues especially the ones involving hundreds of Bako and Sejingkat landowners became a major campaign material.

Chong, who had been highlighting the issue, blamed the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), a Barisan Nasional ally, for its failure to help the Chinese landowners.


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