Monday, 14 March 2011

NCR Land Development Must Not Be Overshadowed By Controversies - Taib

KUCHING, March 14 (Bernama) -- The Sarawak Government would disallow economic benefits brought by development of native customary rights (NCR) land to be overshadowed by controversies, Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said Monday.

Taib, who is also state planning and resource management minister, said such controversies could only be settled by knowing the law, particularly documents or books that had relevance to NCR, to enable natives to convert their lands into modern economic entities.

"The job of the law is to make certain some vague notions from within our own society that deprived the people's rights, are being translated into business and economic benefits," he said.

Taib said this when launching a book, 'The Law On Native Customary Land in Sarawak', authored by former state attorney-general Datuk J. C. Fong here.

Priced at RM350 per hardcover copy, the book traces the development of the law on native customary tenure to land from 1841 when Rajah Sir James Brooke exercised sovereignty of what effectively is now the Kuching and Samarahan divisions.

Taib said the state government should shy away from the difficult situation of implementing a good systematic way of commercially utilising the NCR land, with about one million hectares waiting to be developed, despite being shrouded in controversies.

While the government recognised the desire to preserve the land as native customary rights, he said, it also recognised that the natives needed to have the power to raise capital to convert the NCR land into modern estates that employed good agriculutral practices with good road access and good commodity prices.

He was confident the state's rural landscape would change for the better, given that such development comprised nearly one million hectares of oil palm plantations, with a current production of two million tonnes.

Earlier, Fong said the book was aimed at accurately setting out the law and customs relating to the creation of native rights and acquisition of native titles to land in Sarawak.

Regarded as invaluable to lawyers and judges handling cases involving customary rights to land, the book also deals with the common law, influence of international customary law and on native rights to land in Malaysia.

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