Tucked away in the back pages of Saturday's Borneo Post was a small and innocuous looking news-clipping about a Land Commission (see above). It is no surprise that this news report was buried away and did not get the headline news it deserved. In fact, it is a surprise that it was even reported at all!
You see, the heading should have actually read, ‘Ibans will become instant millionaires if Pakatan Rakyat takes over Sarawak.’ But of course the editor of the Borneo Post cannot do that. If he did, he would suffer the same fate the editor of the New Sarawak Tribune suffered a few months ago and end up being reprimanded, suspended and worse still, sacked. In fact, we congratulate the editor of the Borneo Post for having the balls to even publish this news.
The reason we congratulate the Borneo Post for publishing this news is because the setting up of a Land Commission will have far reaching repercussions and consequences for Sarawak and the natives in particular. It will make many, if not all of them, millionaires overnight. Impossible? Not at all. Let's look at what Baru Bian has exactly in mind when he mooted the idea of the setting up of a Land Commission.
According to Bian, the commission will “investigate claims over issuance of land titles and also gazetted areas as the party (PKR) had all along been fighting for recognition of the rights.”
“We are offering in particular the rural folks of Sarawak a solution for their NCR issues. I've said this in the past and I am going to say it again. PKR is reiterating its stance on NCR matters. We are not only looking at natives in rural areas but also at urban Chinese and the Malays in the coastal areas as well.”
What exactly is Bian offering? Baru Bian is offering the setting up of a Land Commission. What is a Land Commission? A Land Commission is a special body set up by the State Government to look into matters and issues concerning land.
Will this body have the authority and power to act independently? Yes. All commissions do. That is why they are called commissions because they have been commissioned and empowered to do something about a problem.
If Bian is elected and Pakatan Rakyat takes over power in Sarawak and replaces the current BN government, we are promised a Land Commission. So how does this Land Commission benefit, in particular, the Dayak natives of Sarawak?
A Land Commission would survey whole areas of native customary lands in Sarawak. This is what PM Najib instructed Taib to do with the recent perimeter survey exercise. However, will the BN government go one step further and issue titles (pala tanah) for these surveyed lands? And who decides the garis menoa or boundaries of these lands? According to Bian, his Land Commission will not only survey the NCL but also have the power to grant titles to the NCL! This means that the pemakai menoa and pulau galau claimed by the Iban will be fully recognised by the Land Commission and titled. Within these boundaries, especially within temuda areas, individual titles will also be granted to individuals, not just communal titles.
If Bian's Land Commission will do this, then this will be the major break-through that will empower the Iban at long last. Ownership of their lands will be recognised and with titles, the Iban can finally go to banks and financial institutions to apply for loans with their land titles as collateral for mortgages. This means Iban will have the same opportunities as other communities to start their own business with seed money from bank loans guaranteed with their land titles. But will this make Ibans instant overnight millionaires? Of course not. Business is always a risk, but the potential to reap huge rewards will be possible.
Once landowners are granted titles, they can sell their lands. This is how the Iban can become rich. By selling their lands. But if they are smart, they will not sell their lands. They will develop their lands. This is how they can become millionaires. They can invite oil-palm plantation giants like Samling and WTK to joint-venture with them on their own terms.
Currently, these oil-palm plantations call the shots and dictate to the Iban how much they get paid for renting their lands from them. That is because the Iban do not have bargaining power. They do not have bargaining power because Taib and Jabu refuse to grant the Iban land titles. So the Iban are no better than slaves on their own lands. Thanks to Taib and Jabu.
However, when Bian's Land Commission is set up, the Iban will have the solution to their land issues. And this is exactly what Taib and Jabu are afraid of. They are afraid that the Iban will finally realise how much economic and political power will lie in their own hands when they have titles to their lands.
Who owns the most tracks of lands in Sarawak? The Iban. Not the State. However, Taib used his Land Code to convert many native lands into State Land. Then he gave these State lands to Samling and WTK to plant oil-palm. So in actual fact the Iban are the largest landowners in Sarawak, not the State. But Taib changed it all. His BN YBs, including the Iban YBs, agreed to vote in the Land Code which stripped the Iban of their rights to their own lands. So now vast tracks of land previously owned by the Iban under the pemakai menoa and pulau galau have become State lands overnight for Taib to give away to his family, friends and cronies.
However, did you know that the High Court, the Appeals Court and the highest court in Malaysia, the Federal Court, disagreed with Taib? Yes, they disagreed with Taib and said that the Iban do indeed own their pemakai menoa and pulau galau. They said that the Land Code in Sarawak is misinterpreted by the Director of Lands & Survey. The landmark case of Nor anak Nyawai, which every lawyer in Malaysia knows, once and for all settled the issue and grants ownership of pemakai menoa and pulau galau to the Iban. Recently, the Hj Ramli Case further extended the same principle to coastal lands owned by Malays. But the State government still refuses to grant titles to these lands despite the court rulings.
Instead, the State government is stubbornly fighting the precedent created in the Nor Nyawai Case. It is fighting so that it can continue to rob the Iban of their lands, which has been recognised by the law since 2007!
So now that we have discovered that the courts and the laws of Malaysia do indeed recognise that the Iban own huge tracks of lands in Sarawak and that the Land Code enacted by Taib's Dewan Undangan Negeri is practically useless and has no legal standing, does this ownership of lands make the Iban instant overnight millionaires? No yet.
What will make Iban instant overnight millionaires is when Samling and WTK and all oil-palm giants surrender the lands leased to them by the State back to the original owners of the lands, with all the palm oil growing on these lands. All these oil palm will then be automatically owned by the Iban, as Samling and WTK would be recognised as trespassers on lands owned by the Iban. In common law, trespassers have no rights over their cultivate crops. This ownership of hectares of oil palm planted by Samling and WTK and all the other oil-palm giants will revert back to the poor Iban and make them instant millionaires! Instant overnight millionaires by the stroke of a pen! Just like how Taib made himself and his family, friends and cronies instant overnight millionaires.
And who will have the authority to decide this with a stroke of the pen? The Land Commission promised by Baru Bian. Baru Bian's promise of a Land Commission is not just empty talk. He has put his words into action. The Star on Friday January 22, 2010, reported this: Oil palm firm told to return land to Ibans.
If we vote BN out and Pakatan Rakyat in, Baru Bian will have the political power to set up a Land Commission and then the Iban, Orang Ulu, Bidayuh, Malays and even urban Chinese will all become instant millionaires. With the stroke of a pen! It is now up to us to decide if we want to become instant millionaires or not.
You can be as rich as Jabu and Taib. All you have to do is vote Pakatan Rakyat and let Baru Bian set up a Land Commission when Pakatan Rakyat takes over the Sarawak government.
Read the Iban version: SEMAYA BARU: Bala Iban deka nyadi sebengkah raban ti kaya raja tekala nya enti sema Pakatan Rakyat diberi peluang ngambi Sarawak ari perintah BN.