Giving titles to all NCL owners not possible: Naroden
By Jacob Achoi, The Borneo Post, 17th February, 2009
Comments by Sarawak Headhunter in red.
BAU: Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department Mohd Naroden Majais said yesterday it was not possible for the government to give titles to all native customary land (NCL) owners in the state.
He pointed out that giving titles to all NCL owners would be a massive exercise that would result in the land (NCL) not developed to benefit the landowners.
Naroden is obviously trying to justify the unjustifiable. Does he seriously expect people to believe him? What is the purpose of the issuance of Provisional Leases (PLs) then, especially for land which has not yet been surveyed, if not for "development"?
Why is it possible for the authorities to issue PLs in favour of large companies (with the connivance of LCDA) and not native communities? These large companies then use these PLs to bully the native landowners and bulldoze the so-called "development" of the NCL even without the consent of the native landowners and against their wishes, to the extent of using the police and gangsters even against the poor natives.
However, he stressed that it would not mean that NCL owners would lose their rights over their land, adding that the Land Custody and Development Authority (LCDA) had been given the task to keep a record of the land and their respective owners.
That is exactly what happens, especially when LCDA does not keep proper records or depends on their joint-venture partners to keep such records. Why give the natives 30% when they can have it all? Why give the natives anything at all when the government does not even recognize their customary rights to the land?
“I can tell you that there are thousands of hectares of native customary rights (NCR) land, and to survey all of them and give titles will take years, and it will result in NCR land not developed.
Bullshit! They can all be surveyed and titles issued (or at the very least the native landowners' rights duly recognized) in the process of development. How will it result in NCR land not being developed as Naroden arrogantly asserts?
“So LCDA has been entrusted as the management agency to gather all information pertaining to NCR land like delineation and boundary, but of course it has to be verified by the ketua kampung and the Land and Survey Department for the land to be developed,” he told reporters.
Which native landowner trusts LCDA or the Land and Survey Department, when both of these report to Taib Mahmud, the greatest land plunderer of Sarawak? Who trusts anything that Naroden says, for that matter, when he also reports to Taib Mahmud and is himself a major perpetrator and beneficiary of such land plunder?
In this way, NCR land would be better recognised even without the titles, Naroden explained.
What Naroden meant of course is that it would be easier to kick the natives off their own customary rights lands since they do not have titles and have no means to prove their claims, since the law disallows them from even making a map to delineate and show the boundaries of their respective claims. No licensed surveyor would also want to assist them and run foul of Taib.
He had earlier handed over compensation to 104 NCL owners at Kampung Sibuluh, here, whose land were affected due to three projects in Bau district.
The projects are Bau resettlement scheme, Kampung Opar Road and Bau Federal Complex.
Naroden, who is also Assistant Minister of Planning and Resource Management, stressed that the concept was misconceived and manipulated by the opposition, thus resulting in public perception that the government was taking away the people’s land.
How is it possible for the opposition to "misconceive" and "manipulate" the "concept" unless it (the government's taking away of people's land) is really happening? Why are there literally hundreds of cases pending before the courts of Taib's government taking away people's lands? Are all of these cases misconceived and manipulated by the opposition as well?
Are the native peoples only dreaming (or having nightmares) that their NCR lands are being systematically taken over by Taib's government and given to some large company or another, that their longhouses have been demolished and they being left left homeless, their gardens and fruit trees bulldozed, attacked by police and gangsters alike, all without compensation?
He pointed out that NCL owners would benefit tremendously through joint-ventures to develop their land for commercial purposes like oil palm plantation, without losing the right over their land.
Only if the joint-venture "partners" really work together with the NCL owners and are prepared to be transparent in all their dealings with the landowners and with regard to the development and if their customary rights were recognized in the first place.
According to him, normally the landowners and the developer will have an agreement for a certain period of time for the land to be developed.
For example, for an oil palm plantation it would normally take 26 years (full cycle of a plantation) and upon the expiry of the contract, the landowner can either choose to stop or continue with the agreement.
This is not true at all. The landowners have no choice, and the decisions are all made for them by the government, particularly LCDA, without even consulting or informing them.
Naroden added that the government encouraged landowners to develop their NCL through joint-ventures, adding that it would be very expensive to do that on their own.
Again this is not true at all. All development of NCL under joint-ventures must be done through LCDA, which supposedly acts as "trustee" for the landowners. The landowners hardly know what is going on at any time and they are never consulted or informed by LCDA or the joint venture "partners" of the terms and conditions of the joint venture and its financial status or accounts at any time.
Hard to believe, but this is what happens in reality - the NCL landowners never know how much dividends they are or should be entitled to, and LCDA allows the joint-venture "partners" to get away with paying peanuts to the NCL landowners, whether by way of "compensation" or "dividend", even that often long delayed.
The NCL landowners also do not have the option of seeking out and making deals with joint venture partners of their own choosing and without the dubious "pagar makan padi" involvement of LCDA.
According to him, it would cost about RM4,000 to develop an acre of land for oil palm, adding that the cost would be more if the land was located very far away.
Through joint-ventures, the landowners would have 30 per cent equity, he said, adding that in most instances, the landowners were given advanced payment.
“The development of NCL through joint-ventures is done for a certain period of time, and to say that the government is taking away the people’s land is incorrect,” Naroden pointed out.
On Friday, Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) president Tan Sri Datuk Amar Leo Moggie said survey and delineation of NCL would definitely provide certainty of ownership to the natives.
He pointed out that the most important thing for the natives today was for their land to be converted into business asset.
Yes, for themselves, not for someone else to the utter detriment of the NCL landowners!