PETALING JAYA: The Sarawak chief minister claims numerous plots of land in Kuching were found to have been changed from being under Malay ownership to those of other ethnic groups, The Borneo Post reported today.
As a result Abang Johari Openg has called for his administration to preserve Malay lands in the state.
“Malay land rights must not be overlooked even as the state government had been issuing titles for Native Customary Rights (NCR) to indigenous ethnic groups across Sarawak,” he was quoted as saying, adding that what mattered most was that the state defend property rights.
“I just want to be fair to all races. While other Bumiputera communities like the Ibans, the Bidayuh have their NCR land, the Malay community only has those land in urban and suburban areas so we must also defend our property rights, especially, the land across this city.”
Abang Johari was reported to have said this at the foundation-laying ceremony of the Hikmah Exchange project in the Sarawak capital yesterday.
According to the Sarawak-based daily, the CM said the project owned by Sarawak Bumiputera Property Foundation (YHBS) was part of the state’s efforts to defend the property rights of local Muslims.
The finished project will feature twin 13-storey towers with offices and a convention centre, and is expected to be completed in three years.
Built on a 4.18 hectare site, it is developed by Permodalan Satok Bhd (PSB) in collaboration with several organisations, including the Sarawak Islamic Council and Pelita Holdings Sdn Bhd.
All federal agencies are also expected to shift there once the project is completed.
“The Hikmah Exchange will be wholly-owned by the Malays,” Abang Johari was quoted as saying by the Borneo Post.
He added that a real estate investment trust to generate more revenue for the Malays would be formed when YHBS gains fixed revenues from the complex.
“It will become the first digital building in Sarawak. Telekom Malaysia (TM) will install fibre optic lines, which will make Hikmah Exchange a smart building,” he added.
The project’s ground-breaking ceremony last year was officiated by Prime Minister Najib Razak and former chief minister Adenan Satem, who passed away in January this year.