The paternalistic rhetoric is out again-this time with an audacity which frightens more than it assures, that taking land away from the natives of Sarawak is for `development’ -not due to politicians/businessmen’s greed. Will these few words convince the natives to give away their lands which they depend on for everything? The audacity behind such rhetoric reflect the arrogance that politicians in Sarawak had acquired due to their easy success thus far to acquire lands from the natives. A simple calculation may really frighten the folks: There are some 250 challenges to land acquired by the state government in court for the last 30 years under the current Chief Minister. In a land acquired by the government -and given to Taib’s family or himself on the cheap, the land would very soon be sold to a real land `developer’ at market price-giving eg Rm40mil profit to Taib and/or cronies in the land sales in Pulau Bruit (15 ooo Hectares). Multiply this by 250 land sales =Rm10bil! This is only part of the great wealth of the Taib’s family as usually the land sold by Taib will not really be sold cut and dry- the Taib family will insist on keeping some big shares in the company that pay to buy the land from `them’! So the land `developed’ by Taib’s government is really forcibly taken from the natives to make money for the CM’s family. How a politician like Masing would defend such day-light robbery is truly a measure of how their interests are bound together through some `profit sharing’ or loot splitting!
Sarawak Land Development Minister James Masing has come out with guns blazing against activists who accuse the state of grabbing land from the natives.
“They are both ignorant and arrogant,” he said, adding that he did not care if he appeared too aggressive in trying to help the poor.
He also branded as liars those who accuse the state of robbing the Penans of their land.
Masing called a media conference to rebut accusations in a letter from one Robert E. Murkowski to the Prime Minister with copies to himself and Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.
“The letter indicates two things about the writer—that he is both ignorant and arrogant because he does not know the law of the land and he makes the government look like it is run by a bunch of crooks,” he said.
“It is a blatant lie that we robbed their land. We have never stopped the nomadic Penans from roaming the vast areas in Baram and Belaga to fish and hunt.
“Even in Mulu National Park, we allow them to hunt animals, gather jungle produce and hunt fish.”
He said the Penans did not own much land with native customary rights (NCR) status.
He also said that it would be irresponsible for anyone to try to stop the government from developing NCR land.
“I want really want to develop the NCR land,” he told reporters. “If the land remains idle, then the owners will remain poor.
“I will continue to do it as it will be good for the people. We don’t want them to remain poor.”
At present, about 200,000 hectares of NCR land are being cultivated with oil palm.
Masing said his ministry’s target was to develop some two million hectares of land, including 1.5 million hectares of NCR land, by 2020.
He claimed that the government had never taken NCR land by force.
“We have to follow very strict procedures and guidelines,” he said. — FMT