Taking away people's lands ‘a big sin’, Sarawak CM says

Sulok Tawie
Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg says taking away people's lands is ‘a big sin’. — Bernama pic

KUCHING, Nov 21 ― Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg stressed today it will “a big sin” if the state government takes away native customary rights (NCR) lands from the Bumiputera using Section 6 of the Sarawak Land Code as claimed by the Opposition supporters.

“As long as I am the chief minister, we know what is sin and what is blessing,” he said at the closing of a NCR Land Forum attended by community leaders and relevant state goverment officers here.

Abang Johari said the state government does not have a reason to take away the land as it  has large areas already available, and would only do so for public purposes such as building hospitals, roads and bridges.

“Even then the government will compensate the NCR landowners for taking the land for public purposes,” he said.

He also slammed the instigators for twisting the meaning of Section 6 of the Land Code to create confusion and anger among the people, especially the NCR landowners.

He said the Land and Survey Department uses the Section 6 when conducting perimeter survey which is to separate NCR land and state land.

He said after the perimeter survey has been conducted, communal titles will be issued to the NCR land or native territorial domain.

He said once this is done, individual lots within the native territorial domain will be issued with permanent titles under Section 18 of the same code.

The chief minister stressed that Sections 5, 6 and 18 are meant to protect and safeguard  the rights of the Bumiputera landowners.

“We in Gabungan Parti Sarawak do not want to lie,” he said, adding the state government amended the land code last year following the Federal Court's decision in 2016 that NCR land has no force of law.

He said if the state government did not amend the Land Code, the Bumiputera would lose their lands.

“We, the Bumiputera in the State Cabinet, will not want to see our people losing their lands,” he said.

The chief minister said that since the amendments of the Land Code were enforced, more Bumiputera landowners have requested the state government to survey their lands.

As a result, he said the Land and Survey Department has recruited an additional 476 surveyors.

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