From Dayak Baru Weblog
Posting of YB Wong Ho Leng’s view:
What is in it for Dayak NCR Owners?
Have the “owners” of Native Customary Rights (NCR) land been paid their rightful or fair dividends for their participation in joint venture schemes? Or have they been short-changed, having first been sweet-talked into participating in the joint ventures, only to find out later that they would not get their rightful or fair dividends?
This is an area of concern, more so when it was reported in Malaysiakini on Dec. 5, 2008 of a protest by NCR owners in front of the Kuching High Court (See Malaysia Kini report entitled “Sarawak NCR landowners protest company let-down”).
Changgai of Rh Ranggung vs Niamas Istimewa Sdn Bhd
According to the report, more than 220 people from two Iban longhouses in Ulu Niah, Miri, staged the angry protest. They had signed a joint venture in 1997 with KTS Group subsidiary Niamas Istimewa Sdn Bhd and Sarawak Land Development Board, a statutory body and a shareholder of Sarawak Plantations Bhd, to develop 2,508 hectares of NCR land for oil palm.
New Concept of NCR Land Development
Under the New Concept of NCR land development scheme, the landowners would hold 30% of the equity, the government agency 10% and a private investor 60%. It was said that Niamas Istimewa Sdn Bhd had made an initial payment of 10% of the agreed sum but it has not paid a single sen of the 30% by way of unit trust shares to the landowners over the last nine years, even though the harvested oil palm has brought returns to the joint-venture (JV) company.
I feel duty bound to investigate and verify the matter reported. There is reason to help push our native friends out of the ring of poverty.
Meaningful NCR Land Development – DAP says:
No DAP leaders had ever been against meaningful NCR land development. The umpteenth accusations by the Deputy Chief Minister and Member for Layar, Alfred Jabu, that DAP has oppressed and suppressed the opportunity of the NCR landowners from participating in the government poverty eradication program in the rural areas has been a diabolical lie.
DAP’s ADUN for Kidurong, Chew Chin Sing, had spoken on the matter many times since 2001. DAP ADUN for Meradong, Ting Tze Fui, and ADUN for Batu Lintang, Voon Lee Shan, had also spoken a few times since their election in 2006. I had also spoken many times since 1996 for meaningful NCR land development, including obtaining the assurance from the Minister of Land Development, James Masing, to give priority to employ the local Ibans in oil palm plantations.
This is our way of speaking for the Ibans when their wakil rakyat are shy and meek, fearing of antagonizing their Boss. Our mission is to see that the Ibans get out of the cesspool of being the poorest folks in Sarawak, no thanks to the BN Government for their predicament.
Delay or Failure to pay Dividends by plantation companies
This is not the first complaint on delay or failure to pay the rightful share of dividends from plantation companies.
A year ago, a group of 20 Ibans complained that they had received very little dividends from their joint venture in Kanowit. I contacted the Minister (not Jabu) immediately. I was told that the lack of payment was because those Ibans did not work hard enough at the plantations! I was shocked by the answer but I had no means to verify.
Has money for rural development project being hijack into private account?
During the DUN proceedings on Nov. 5, 2008, DAP ADUN for Pending, Violet Yong, asked a Supplementary Question on whether there was a mechanism to ensure that money for development projects “are not siphoned or hijacked into private accounts”.
The issue pertains to corruption in the dissemination of development funds to constituencies but Jabu refused to give a straight forward answer. Instead, he reiterated his lie that “DAP has oppressed and suppressed the opportunity of the NCR landowners from participating in the government poverty eradication program in the rural areas”.
Question asked to Jabu in DUN by Wong not not given a proper answer
Since he started the issue, I asked Jabu whether the natives in the Kanowit plantations had been paid their fair dividends or not. The following is verbatim from the Hansard:
“Timbalan Ketua Menteri dan Menteri Pembangunan Infrastruktur dan Perhubungan dan Menteri Pembangunan Luar Bandar (Y.B. Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri (Dr) Alfred Jabu anak Numpang): Tuan Speaker, if you read and if you follow my movement, less than a month ago, on the second phase of paying the dividend over to the NCR landowners, I was participating with Yang Berhormat Datuk Gramong Juna distributing dividends to the NCR landowners joint-venture in Kanowit almost amounting to RM1 million. So I am surprise, Tuan Speaker … (Interruption).
Y.B. Encik Wong Ho Leng: My question is, have the natives got all the fair dividend or not? It is not a matter of RM1 million.
I had since checked with some of the NCR land owners in Kanowit. They maintained that they have not been given their rightful or fair dividends.
Jabu’s reply – blur and sweeping
From Jabu’s reply, the lingering questions remains, how much had been paid to these landowners during the first phase? Since the joint venture had commenced in the late 1990’s, why the payment of dividend is still only at “the second phase”? How many NCR land owners were to share this dividend which Jabu said “almost amounting to RM1 million”?
NCR Land Owners have not been fairly treated
As a matter of fact, I have always felt that the NCR land owners have not been fairly treated in the joint venture schemes. Many Ibans have complained that they were not consulted before entering into the joint venture, as consultations were only with their Tuai Rumah.
They have further complained that apart from providing the labour, they have little say in the decision making process, which would explain why dividends in some cases have either not been paid, or delayed. It is unfortunate that my comments in the DUN on 13th November, 1997 had fallen on deaf ears.
Suggested safeguards for NCR Land development
This was what I said:
“I propose that in order that the joint venture between the big corporations and the natives can be considered safe and meaningful, there must be the following safeguards:
“(a) the CEO (Chief Executive Officers) of all these body corporate should be natives;
“(b) the natives should be allocated at least 30% of the share or equities in these body corporate; and
“(c) the shares of these natives should carry full voting and participation rights.
“Only upon fulfillment of these conditions may the natives have an effective and meaningful say in the running of these corporate, including the incorporation of policies and the running of the joint venture. …“We are supportive of meaningful development, so that the disparity between the rich and the poor can be narrowed. “We also wish to see the Ibans, Bidayuhs and other native groups and other anak-anak Sarawak thrive in their business ventures, so that lives can be better off for them as well as their next generations. …“I am speaking on the NCR land as anak Sarawak, as bangsa Sarawak, in the spirit and wisdom of Martin Luther King, “One Nation, One Voice.”“These natives, whose land is the subject of our debate are our brothers and sisters, and I am duty bound to speak on their behalf when their own representatives are constrained because of Party whip.”
The matter concerning payment and receipt of dividends to the NCR land owners will have to be probed further.
The Dyaks Blog Final Analysis:
The above view came from a Foochow as good as we hope if it was said from a Dayak. Nevertheless Mr. Wong did present a good points, a damn good one, that surely strike any spineless Dayak ADUNs/ MPs to shame.
None of our own Dayak leaders dare to review all those plantation schemes is just beyond logic. Is there any conscience left at least to ask if it is simple right or wrong for our Dayak leaders? Cheating is cheating, there is no such thing as ‘grey area’ when trying to dupe the Dayaks but our own Dayak leaders put a blind eye on it.
It’s pathetic to note that J*bu even try to portray Dayak as lazy and deserve the low returns when at the first place the joint venture was mostly one-sided so how can you expect any initiative for Dayak to feel some sense of meaningful partnership when even the return itself you barely received it.
Initiative is like foreplay in which someone must get laid first so Salcra ought to very hardworking if they deserve to reap all the money to offset the allegedly ‘lazy’ Dayaks. When the new, gleaming Salcra headquarters at Jalan Kota Samarahan due to completion then it’s the time to see how J*bu will struggle to claim the palm oil money will be in ‘good custody’ and for ‘good use’.
Expect the rest of Dayak participants that put up their NCR lands to bring more smoked skulls for rituals then.