MIRI: About 200 people from more than 20 native social-rights groups gathered in Miri city to protest against the proposed amendments to the Sarawak Land Code.
Armed with banners and posters, they walked along the streets of the city centre while shouting slogans with a big “no” to the proposed changes by the Sarawak state government to table a Bill to amend the Sarawak Land Code in the coming state assembly sitting.
Baram Peoples Action Committee (BPAC) is one of the native social rights groups that were at the gathering.
Others included Save Sarawak Rivers, Society for Rights of Indigenous Peopls of Sarawak, Tanah Hak Bangsa Sarawak and others who represented the Ibans, Melanaus, Orang Ulus, Bidayuhs and Malays.
BPAC chairman Philip Jau said the groups rejected the proposed amendments as it would dilute the rights of the natives towards control of their native land.
"When the state government announced the proposed amendment (last year), we natives were hopeful that this coming state assembly sitting will give legal recognition to Native Customary Rights on communal land that Sarawak natives called “pemakai menoa and pulau galau” (common boundary shared land).
"We have studied a draft of the amendments to the Bill that will be tabled in the coming state assembly sitting middle of this month.
"We are unhappy with the Bill as it will erode our rights even further on the pemakai menoa and pulau galau.
"The Bill, if approved, will require natives to apply to the Land and Survey Department to get recognition for our pemakai menoa and pulau galau.
“That is taking away our ancestral traditional rights,” Jau added.
He said that the natives are frustrated by all the continuous delays from the state government in settling this issue which have dragged on for decades.
Jau said all the native state assemblymen must reject the proposed Bill that will be tabled in the coming sitting starting July 15.