Uggah: Amendment to Sarawak land code in May 2018

Amar-Douglas-sarawwak-land-codeKUCHING: The amendment to the Land Code relating to Pemakai Menoa and Pulau Galau (PMPG) should be ready for tabling in the Sarawak legislative assembly in May 2018, said Deputy Chief Minister Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.

Hence, he appealed for patience from all parties, and to let the task force look at the issues holistically and work out proposals to amend the land code so that issues pertaining to the Native Customary Rights (NCR) land could be resolved.

Uggah said the government had always been consistent in its stand in respecting and recognising the rights of the people as provided for by law, adding that this also applied to the people’s rights to their NCR land as provided for by the Sarawak Land Code.

“The state government is very much aware of the implications of the Federal Court ruling on the natives of Sarawak,” said Uggah when winding up debate on the state 2018 Budget for the Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Ministry in the assembly today.

The Federal Court had ruled that the native custom of “pemakai menoa” (territorial domain) and “pulau galau” (communal forest reserve) had no force of law in Sarawak.

Uggah said the state government formed a task force chaired by him, with members comprising state and federal ministers, politicians, senior civil servants and legal practitioners. The terms of reference of the task force were to consider and propose amicable and practical solutions to resolve the customary land rights issues relating to PMPG.

Uggah, who is also minister for modernisation of agriculture, native land and regional development, said the task force first met on March 14 this year and had met 12 times up to Nov 8.

The task force, he said, was supported by a working committee, with the membership comprising Jaul Samion, Ganie Ugay, Thomas Akin Jelimin, Francis Johen Adam, Kilat Beriak, Ding Seling, Paul Raja and Salang Manjan (as secretary).

He said the secretariat for the committee was the Sarawak Native Customs Council and that the committee’s main task, among others, was to consider the implications of the Federal Court ruling, study which laws needed to be amended, and to propose the appropriate amendments.

“This working committee met eight times and also met Dayak legal practitioners twice; once in Kuching together with members of the task force on March 14 this year, and the second time in Bintulu on April 18,” he said.

Uggah said Dayak lawyers from different political affiliations were invited to both the meetings. Ba’kelalan state assemblyman Baru Bian of PKR was also invited to the meeting in Bintulu, he added.

“I requested for their participation because I strongly feel that the issues on Pemakai Menoa and Pulau Galau should be addressed by everybody irrespective of political inclination,” he said.

Uggah said NCR issues should not be politicised because there must be genuine attempts to find holistic solutions.

“We are not keeping quiet or inactive as many people alleged. These active discussions and engagements were not publicised as we do not believe in gaining political mileage on matters close to the people’s heart, neither do we believe in arousing the rakyat’s sentiments,” he said.

The working committee also studied the memorandums forwarded by the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA) and Dayak intellectual groups and the views of the Dayak community leaders and chiefs throughout the state, he said, adding that the Sarawak Native Customs Council had 14 meetings with the community leaders at various locations.