The state Land and Survey Department's poor enforcement of the conditions listed in the PLs is the main reason why natives are suing the government.
KUCHING: Sarawak Land and Survey Department which issues provisional leases (PLs) over hundreds of thousand of hectares of native customary rights (NCR) land to oil palm companies is being blamed for the troubles and hardship suffered by native landowners.
A former district officer Edward Luak, said the department’s failure in enforcing the terms of PLs has made people angry.
Luak said that when the department issued the PLs there are three conditions attached to it.
“The PLs involve 16 sub-conditions – from ‘a’ to ‘p’ – which specifically requires the PL holder to conduct a proper survey of the land, and upon completion of a proper survey of the land the holder of this PL will be given a lease in accordance with the provisions of the Land Code, and subject to conditions and restrictions.
“Had the department ensured that the conditions in the PLs were strictly followed, the grievances of the people would have been pre-empted.
“People are revolting and protesting because the department has failed to enforce the conditions set up by the department.
“This is the main problem causing people to be angry. So don’t blame the landowners who are defending their rights.
“Some even dare to die for their land as shown by a number of cases,” said Luak who is also Serian DAP chairman.
Natives banding together
He was responding to reports that the department has in recent years given out lands to plantation companies under the term ‘provisional leases’.
“The people feel that they have been deprived of their ancestral land and land that they have acquired under the native system of customary law.
“They have tilled the soil for their livelihood for decades. Suddenly now they lose everything,” he said.
He said the natives were now resisting having realised that their lands are suddenly being grabbed and are pooling together their financial resources and engaging lawyers to bring their grievances to the court of law.
“(But) it will take decades for their cases to be heard. It is indeed an agony for these natives who are deprived of their rights.
“Those who cannot afford this are left to the mercy of PL holders,” he said, pointing out that as of now there are more than 200 cases pending in the High Court in Sarawak.