KUCHING: The Sarawak state legislative assembly today passed the Land Code (Amendment) Bill 2018 by a voice vote.
Assembly speaker Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar announced that the bill was passed by the majority after 35 assemblymen spoke during the debate on it.
Deputy Chief Minister Douglas Uggah Embas, who is state modernisation of agriculture, native land and regional development minister, said the main objectives of the bill are to give native territorial domain the force of law and to issue native communal title in perpetuity, which will confer on such title a proprietary right to the native territorial domain.
Uggah said the bill also aimed to resolve the problem arising from the Federal Court decision in TR Nyutan’s case relating to provisional leases and to repeal provisions in the Land Code (Amendment) Ordinance 2007 which have not come into force, resulting in, for example, the reinstatement of Section 5 (2) (f).
“I would also like to state that the bill re-affirms the principle of inclusiveness. In fact, the bill has been drafted in such a way as to incorporate this principle.
“This is so because Sarawak has more than 30 native groups, each with their own customs and culture.
“For that reason, the term Native Territorial Domain is used rather than its equivalent ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’ for Iban, ‘cari makan’ for Malay, ‘tu’an’ for Bidayuh, etc,” he said when winding up the debate on the bill.
Uggah said the Sarawak government was committed to ensuring that the proprietary interests over native territorial domain were protected and native communal titles rightfully issued to the respective native communities in accordance with the Land Code.
He said this amendment would resolve the controversy surrounding the issue of native territorial domain.
Uggah said through this bill, the government has given the custom of creating native territorial domain the force of law.
“Secondly, the government has ensured that the interest over this native territorial domain be one that carries with it a proprietary right.
“To further protect this proprietary right, the bill provides for a native communal title, to be recognised as a document of title issued under the Land Code.
“This title is indefeasible and no provisional leases can deprive the native community of their rights. The government has also ensured that the natives continue to enjoy this right by providing that the tenure over native territorial domain be in perpetuity,” he said.
Uggah added that the bill was to ensure that the native territorial domain continued to remain within the control and ownership of the native community.
No dealings in the land which could result in the native community losing their precious land to other parties were allowed, he said.