Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud repeat his wish to simplify the NCR laws to make it easier to `develop’ the NCR lands. It will involve changing the laws to extinguish NCR rights and convert the NCR lands into commercial `land banks’ which can be more easily bought and sold. What he never quite clarify is: why after decades of the operation of the `development’ of the NCR lands the natives said to be the beneficiary of such development are still left behind in the `modern’ Sarawak? Worst: he never explain why only 1 family of the natives got rich of all these development ie he and his family!
Tuesday March 15, 2011
Taib: Know native law
By SHARON LING
Photo by ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE
KUCHING: Over a million hectares of native customary land in Sarawak can be developed for the benefit of their owners through a clear and proper understanding of native customary law.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said the government recognised that the process of developing native customary land into modern estates with good management and agricultural practices was “fraught with controversy”.
Nevertheless, he said the government would not shy away from creating a system that would give greater benefits to owners of the land.
“This can be done by knowing what native customary law is like. If this is achieved, a large number of natives will benefit from the development of their land, and there are over a million hectares of this kind of land waiting for development in Sarawak today,” he said.
Taib was speaking at the launch of former state Attorney-General Datuk JC Fong’s new book Law on Native Customary Land in Sarawak at the new State Legislative Assembly complex here yesterday.
Taib also said Sarawak had been able to convert the use of its native land by introducing some amount of certainty into native customary law.
He said this was done through native customary estate schemes in which a communal piece of land was converted into a shared land bank owned by the natives, and special laws were needed to give permission to non-natives to be a partner in the development of such land.
“Nearly 80,000ha of such land has been developed and they are giving quite a lot of benefit to the owners,” he said.
He added that such benefits of development should not be overshadowed by controversies, which he said must be settled somehow or other.
“The controversies can only be settled by knowing what the law really is. The job of the law is to make certain some vague notions within our society that give rise to people’s rights.
“If the notions of these rights are not certain, then they cannot be translated into rights that can be utilised for business and economic development,” he said.
Taib therefore said Fong’s book, which brought together documents on the development of native customary rights in Sarawak, was important so that the natives could convert their rights into modern economic benefits.
He added that Fong was “more than qualified” to write the book as he not only had the academic knowledge but also in-depth experience through his years of practice.
“He’s narrowed it down to writing on what the law really is and what customary laws have been adopted as part of the law of the land, and I think he’s done thorough research on the subject,” Taib said.