BN man pockets RM1m in Salcra dividends - How come?

BN man pockets RM1m in Salcra dividends
Joseph Tawie
| December 21, 2011

While hundreds of Salcra landowners have seen pittance in dividends, a local politician has laughed all the way to the bank.

KUCHING: A prominent Barisan Nasional (BN) politician in Bau, some 150km from here, has allegedly received at least RM1 million in dividends from Sarawak Land Custody and Rehabilitation Authority (Salcra).

Disclosing this today, a PKR Mas Gading division leader, Boniface Willy Tumek, said: He is the single biggest recipient of dividends from Salcras Bratak and Undan estates in Bau.

It means that the BN politician has a big acreage of land in these two estates to be able to receive RM1 million.

It means he has been buying up land at low cost from poor people when they are at their weakest point.

Tumek said a seldom mentioned tragic fact about Salcras plantation is that substantial land parcels in these estates have passed hands, from the original landowners (who were supposed to benefit from these schemes) to financially comfortable people.

He pointed out that one hectare of oil palm would earn RM2,466 per year but it was a meaningless amount.

Tumek said that nobody talked about this aspect in Salcra oil palm estates.

Salcra was conceived with the aim of helping to develop the native customary rights (NCR)land of the natives to help eradicate poverty among the rural people.

Selling to support children

But this has not been the case.

The rich and the people of means are taking advantage of the poor people whose lands in the estates are bought at low prices when the people are most vulnerable.

This usually happens in the beginning of the year when students are about to go to university, especially during those times when Unimas (Universiti Malaysia Sarawak) was not in existence yet.

When you talk about going to universities, they are all in Peninsular Malaysia; so you talk about airfares and all kinds of expenses and the kampung people do not have this type of money.

I have personal experience. I was approached by someone from Kampung Stungkor in 1988.

He had a piece of land in the Salcra estates which he wanted to sell to me because he needed the money to send his daughter to a university.

I thought long and hard about it. In the end, I decided not to take it, because I know it was morally wrong for me to take advantage of his predicament or misfortune at the time when they were most vulnerable.

I told him that I would like very much to help him but I could not do it and advised him that if he was really in need of the money then he should go somewhere else, which, of course, he did.

This is what is happening. This has happened and will continue to happen to the poor who are being taken advantage of, he said.

Jabu must be held accountable

Tumek said this was a common occurrence in Salcras oil palm plantations.

This is how the BN politician in Bau acquired his land in Salcra, he said, adding that in Saratok a large number of non-Dayaks received huge dividends from Salcra.

On NCR land development, Tumek said it was now obvious that NCR land development schemes initiated by the state government had failed miserably in trying to achieve their stated objectives of providing reasonable and sustainable incomes to participants of the estates and of providing employment to the locals.

This is particularly true with the oil palm and tea plantations developed and managed by Salcra and LCDA (Pelita), he said.

In early November 2011, Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu reportedly announced that Salcra will pay out dividends totalling RM100,888,000 to the 16,374 participants of its 18 oil palm estates throughout the state.

It gave an average of RM2,466 per hectare of matured estates area per year or RM206 per month.

This is far below the states poverty line income of RM850 per month.

In contrast, Felcra, another government-linked company, announced that it is able to pay dividends totalling RM850,000,000 based on revenue generated from their oil palm estates which cover 162,321 hectares of planted area.

Felcras forecast on dividends gives an average of RM5,236 per hectare, more than double that of Salcras.

This begs the question: shouldnt Jabu, chairman of Salcra and James Masing, Minister in charge of Salcra, be made accountable to the participants for the dismal performances of Salcra? he asked.

Give natives their titles

The oil palm schemes initiated by Pelita are no better than those of Salcra.

It is near impossible to secure numbers indicating management performances, but judging from the increasing number court cases involving their joint venture estates, they are definitely on the same plane as Salcra.

With the obvious failures of these two government agencies to achieve the objectives upon which they were conceived and incorporated, we in PKR call upon the state government to very quickly issue land titles to all the plots of land in these schemes which have not been issued with land titles yet.

In particular, we urge the state government to very quickly issue land titles to the participants of Salcras Jagoi Estates in Bau as there is only about five years left in the development agreement and to the participants of Salcras Mayang tea estate in Serian, Tumek said.