Extracted from Malaysiakini
S'wak natives to meet on land rights
customary rights (NCR) landowners affected by logging, plantation and
reforestation activities throughout
“The event will also provide the opportunity for them to meet the panel of lawyers who are handling more than 120 cases connected with NCR land dispute now before the court in Sarawak,” according to Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (Sadia) secretary-general Nicholas Mujah.
The gathering, the first of its kind, is organised by Tanah Adat Orang Asal (Tahabas) or
Sadia, Sahabat Alam
Tahabas is led by Cikgu Augustine Bagat from Balai Ringin in Sri Aman where the affected NCR landowners have referred their case against a Johor-based company Tetengga Akrab over two provisional leases for a total of about 11,000 hectares issued by the state government for oil palm plantation.
Mujah, one of the co-ordinators for the May 1 event, told malaysiakini that the aim was to create awareness among the community on their NCR land rights and to introduce them to the panel of lawyers for their cases to be brought to court.
Several lawyers, including Raja Aziz Addruse and Cyrus V Dass will be among the speakers at the function.
speak on indigenous land and human rights while Dass will recount a case
successfully brought against the government by the Orang Asli over a land
matter affected by the
Local lawyer Baru Bian who handles many NCR land cases in court and another local Orang Ulu lawyer and social activist Harrison Ngau will speak about their own experiences in such cases.
Former deputy chairman of the Majlis Adat Istiadat Nicholas Bawin, an authority on Iban adat and customs relating to NCR land, will also be a speaker at the event.
Bawin who is Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU) president has appeared in many NCR land cases in court to give his expert opinion on Dayak adat and customs relating to land.
“The majority of the cases involve oil palm plantation companies and the rest are logging companies and tree plantation companies,” he added.
In recent years, after the state government started issuing 60-year provisional leases to companies, largely for oil palm plantations, NCR landowners or untitled landowners claiming customary rights over the land they have been occupying for a long time have complained of encroachment into their land.
This has often brought them into conflict with lease-holders and company workers, and in one case in Lundu the company even pulled out their machinery and men last year after being frustrated on the ground in continuing their work.
Most NCR landowners are demanding that they be given the right to determine for themselves how they want to develop their land and whom they want as partners in joint venture companies.
They resented the fact that the authorities have been issuing leases to companies from outside their areas without consulting them on the matter.