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S’wak BN voters’ land leases ‘frozen’

 | July 22, 2013

The land parcels have allegedly been earmarked by Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s PBB party for crony companies to develop.

KUCHING:  Angry landowners who are strong supporters of Barisan Nasional in Betong have complained that their land leases within a five kilometers radius of Betong Town have been frozen by the authorities and has apparently been earmarked for development by crony companies allegedly linked to local PBB leaders.

Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen said he had received complaints from the landowners that their applications for renewal of their land leases had been frozen.

“The Land and Survey Department has refused any application to renew any land lease within the five km radius of the town.

“This is a very serious matter,” said Chong, pointing out that on one hand the land leases of the land owners have been frozen, and on the other hand, the state lands were alienated to some crony companies for development of shop houses and housing estates.

The crony companies are allegedly linked to local political leaders. Chong refused to name the crony companies and the local political leaders.

“I think the notion of development for any places should not be such an unfair notion of development where the general public will be sacrificed for the benefits of few companies.

“We will surely look into this issue seriously and will not rule out a   Betong town-wide signature campaign to call on the government to cancel such a policy,” he said.

“First we will find out whether there was a directive (to freeze the land renewal application), and if there is when it was issued and why?

“Initially, it was three km radius from the town, and now it is five km. I am really shocked when told of it during our dialogue session in Betong on Friday,” he said.

Chinese, Iban lands affected

Besides Chinese landowners, hundreds of Iban landowners from scores of longhouses in the ‘frozen’ zone are affected by the new ruling.

The Land and Survey not only refused to give reasons, but did not acknowledge the people’s applications.

Stephen Dass, the protem chairman of the Betong DAP branch said that the majority of the landowners affected had  voted for the BN candidate  in the recently concluded general election.

“Now they are very angry after finding out that their land cannot be renewed. They feel that they have been used of and have been short-changed.

“Some of them talked openly expressing their anger during the dialogue session.

“One particular land owner said that if the government wants to take away their land, they should be paid compensation.

“But to freeze our land with the aim of taking it from them will make many of us landless,” Dass quoted a landowner as saying.

Mohd Razi Sitam is the state assemblyman for Saribas.

All the three state seats are under the parliamentary constituency of Betong whose MP is Douglas Uggah Embas. He is now the Minister of Plantation Industries and Commoditie


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