The lack of adequate compensations to the affected residents have caused many residents to refuse to accept the compensation offered. The cases will continue to drag on for a long time-even to a point where many of the residents pass away in time to come. Is there another way which give better justice to the residents?
Settlers urged to opt for mediation in row
Posted on May 11, 2011, Wednesday(Borneo Post)
KAPIT: The outstanding disputes over land compensation involving the remaining 99 settlers at the Bakun Resettlement Scheme at Sg. Asap, Belaga could be resolved within the next few months should they opt for mediation instead of going to the Native Court for a settlement.
This was disclosed by Kapit Resident Dahim Nadot after officiating at a special dialogue session with the affected individuals at the Sg. Asap Community Hall recently.
Dahim moderated at the dialogue which also involved magistrates and officers of the Native Courts from Kuching and Kapit Land and Survey Department to seek an amicable solution to the disputes over ancestral lands affected by the Bakun HEP Project.
He told the crowd of over 200 that the affected lands are now submerged and form part of the Bakum HEP reservoir and that the compensation of over RM5.4 million payable to 99 individuals from 10 longhouses is still withheld by the government without earning any interest or income for the last thirteen years due to the unresolved disputes.
“It is my sincere hope that this long standing issue which benefits no parties can be resolved administratively during my tenure as your Resident,” he said.
Over the last few years however, 226 out of 325 cases filed at the Belaga District Office were withdrawn and land compensation of over RM16.7 million had been paid out without going to the native courts for a settlement.
Officers from the Native Court led by former Kapit Resident and now acting registrar of the court Hang Tuah Merawin arranged for the special dialogue session to brief the affected parties on the mediation process which is a viable and preferred option to filing the disputes with the native courts for a settlement.
This out-of-court process to settle disputes is cheap, fast, friendly and fairer as against the court process where the eventual winner takes all.
Hang Tuah also disclosed that in some cases the parties could easily settle their disputes through consultation and adopting the give-and-take attitude, pointing out that those adamant at filing their cases with the native courts are mainly trying their luck out of self-esteem.
He also said for settlement through the native courts, a big portion of the compensation will be used for legal fees, while advising that the existing harmonious relationship among the longhouse folks may also be adversely affected.
Hang Tuah also informed the disputants that those who had filed their disputes with the native courts are free to withdraw anytime before a hearing commences.
In such case, he said the compensation money can be released by the government based on the agreement during the mediation process.
“Right now we have 41 cases in hand and we cannot guarantee that all these cases can be heard within the next one year as requested by the Kapit Resident’s Office,” he added.
Prior to the dialogue session, headmen from 15 longhouses and community leaders led by Pemanca Tony Kulleh and Umek Jeno from the Bakun Resettlement Scheme were given a two-day course on the mediation process by magistrates from both the Resident’s and District native courts in Bintulu.
According to Hang Tuah, his office is seriously promoting mediation to settle disputes among natives over native customary rights (NCR) land. Towards this end, he said similar courses and dialogues will be organised in other districts.