KUCHING: A land rights advocate reminded the Sarawak Government that it has yet to abide by court rulings which recognise Pemakai Menoa and Pulau Galau as part and parcel of NCR land.
Baru Bian warned that by ignoring legitimate NCR claims over Pemakai Menoa and Pulau Galau, and with land authorities issuing leases and provisional leases over NCR land, the government was setting the ground for potential disputes between native landowners and companies.
The Sarawak Government has only recognised Temuda as NCR land.
Temuda is cultivated land near a longhouse, Pemakai Menoa is land further away, and Pulau Galau refers to a communal forest.
“The government also fails to respond swiftly when disputes arise over NCR claims,” added Baru in his latest blog posting.
He cautioned that landowners felt isolated and helpless over the failure by the authorities concerned to investigate swiftly and impartially when claims and disputes arose.
“Disputes are being ‘settled’ between landowners and companies,” said Baru, who is also Ba’Kelalan Assemblyman and Sarawak opposition chief. “Many companies hire gangsters to intimidate the landowners.”
He was commenting on police arresting three men over a fatal shooting incident on Monday at a blockade at an oil palm plantation in Ulu Sungai Arip, Balingian, Mukah.
Court cases could take years to be heard and disposed of, noted Baru. “The people cannot put their lives on hold for that long. They should not be left to live under clouds of uncertainty over land rights.”
Baru agreed that a Land Rights Commission, or Land Tribunal, should be set up. It was suggested by Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, Richard Malanjum, in January this year,
Sarawak Police Commissioner Mazlan Mansor had earlier said three men, in their 20s and 30s, were detained when they lodged a police report on the incident.
“The case involves a group of men who tried to breach a blockade manned by villagers along a stretch of road leading to the plantation,” said Mazlan at a press conference on Wednesday. “An argument broke out. It ended with one member of the outsider group being shot dead with a shotgun.”
It’s learnt the deceased, Fabian Janti Lebau, 26, turned up at the blockade with about 10 others in four vehicles. Fabian was later found by police, lying face down on the ground with a machete in one hand. Two spent shotgun cartridges were recovered nearby.
The blockade, since October 4, was reportedly erected by residents of five out of nine longhouses who want higher compensation from a company which owns a plantation along a stretch of road which goes through NCR land.