Sarawak DAP strongly opposes the Land Code (Amendment) Bill 2014 which allows native landowners to sell their land to other natives of different races regardless of location as they can be easily exploited by the rich and super rich natives.
“If we allow this bill to be passed without safeguards, there will be a time whereby the rich owning hundreds and thousands of NCR land, while the poor natives will have no land to farm,” Kota Sentosa assemblyperson Chong Chieng Jen warned yesterday.
This had happened in China about 60 years ago where the poor farmers had to work in the land owned by the land lords, he said during the debate on the Land Code (Amendment) Bill
The Bill was introduced by Deputy Chief Minister and Rural Development Minister and Modernization of Agriculture Minister Alfred Jabu anak Numpang (right) to seek an amendment to section 5(2) of Land Code to allow the untitled NCR land to be ‘inherited, acquired,
purchased by or transferred, or sold or disposed off to or dealt with another native’.
Chong said: “We cannot support this Bill unless the government comes up with an amendment to this Bill such as to provide safeguards to protect the interest of the less informed and the less educated native landowners.
“There must be a provision and a safeguard to ensure that only natives in the area can buy the land within the area. Other rich natives for example from Layar and Baleh should not be allowed to buy the land and leave their investment there,” he said.
“Secondly, we are talking about the enhancing the sale value of the land with conditions attached such as that the buyers must develop the land within five years.
“If any potential buyer has a plan to develop the land and buys the land from the native landowners, he must develop the land within five years.
“We cannot allow the rich natives to continue to buy and buy and buy the land and keep it there for years. By not developing the land, that in itself is non-productive economically.
“If he fails to develop the land, then he breaches the condition and the land should be reverted to the land owners,” he said.
Chong also suggested that a different treatment should be given to a category of land like the urban, sub-urban and country land.
“What we object strongly is that the rich and super rich natives or a big company with native status come and buy hundreds and thousands of acres of country land as they know that the land will not be developed within 10 years or so.
“When they know that the government has plans to develop the area, they will buy and continue to buy the land from the natives at very cheap prices. But when a road is built through the land, it will appreciate in value by 20 or 30 times,” he said.
“They will get a windfall, but the original landowners will get ‘nadai apa-apa’ (nothing),” he said.
He also suggested that there must be a native land board to monitor the sale of land to prevent hundreds and thousands of natives becoming landless in the state.
“If this happens, it will not good for the natives and it will not good for the state, and it will not good for everybody,” he said.
“So what I am saying here is that the bill at this at this stage is a tool of exploitation of the poor and the less informed and less educated natives,” he said.
Saying that it is the duty of the government to protect them, he said that the bill has so many loopholes for implementation.
“For that we oppose the bill,” said Chong who is the Sarawak DAP chief.
Debating the same Bill, the DAP member for Meradong Ting Tze Fui said that there is an underlying worry that once this proposed Amendment Bill is passed and becomes law, the NCR lands will be easily acquired by the rich natives or the proxy, nominees or political allies who are well-connected to the prominent politicians.
“We as lawmakers shall be extra cautious and giving more thought in respect of the possible impacts and consequences of passing such a law which could be a double-edge sword as it can be positive or negative, especially when the newly amended Section 5(2) has the retrospective effect which may cause even more NCR land disputes,” she said.
The DAP member asked the minister for rural development who is a Dayak himself to think thrice before supporting this amendment bill just for the sake of supporting it.
“Do study carefully and have some heart for your own communities. Land is life for the natives, the Sarawak state government should have instituted pro-people policies so that these indigenous people can live and work in peace and contentment in their own lands,” said Ting.
Meanwhile, DAP Member for Dudong Yap Hoi Liong asked the government to lay down clear laws and regulations as to the sale of native titled land, sale of the native customary land (NCL) is sale of ‘temuda’ or sale of ‘pemakai menua’ so as to avoid exploitation of the rich over the poor natives.
Yap quoted Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Richard Malanjun said that if holders of NCL were or are allowed to dispose them off by way off by way of sale then the very purpose in the creation and existence of NCL would be defeated. The adat and custom of ‘tungkus asi’ would be greatly undermined.
on Malaysiakini (11/11/2014)