The state government’s move to abolish quit rent on smallholder agricultural and residential land is welcomed, but the frustrations of many native customary rights (NCR) land owners remain.
In stating this, state PKR chairman Baru Bian said thousands of NCR land owners were deprived of their land because the government refused to recognise the NCR concept of ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’ — both of which have been affirmed by the courts.
“This is an issue of the fundamental rights of the people to ownership of their land. If the chief minister (Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem) really wants to help the people of Sarawak, he should respect the decision of the courts and recognise ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’ as being NCR lands of the people,” he said in a press statement yesterday.
He was commenting on Adenan’s announcement on Tuesday on abolishing quit rent on smallholder agriculture and residential land, making Sarawak the first state in the country to implement such a policy.
Baru said those with inquiring minds would question the motive behind Adenan’s latest initiative as the 11th state election neared.
He also wondered why the state government opted to forgo a portion of one of its normal revenue sources when it was revealed in Parliament that Sarawak owed Putrajaya RM2.5 billion, making Sarawak the third highest debtor state.
“I hope this is not a mere political gimmick and that the quit rent will not be reintroduced at a later stage if the Barisan Nasional (BN) should still hold the majority of seats after the polls.”
Baru, who is also Ba Kelalan assemblyman, opined that if the quit rent decision was to reduce the ever-increasing financial burden borne by the people, Adenan should turn to the reasons for the difficulties faced by the people, especially the increased prices of goods and services caused by the goods and services tax (GST).
“The prime minister was delighted the GST will net the government RM39 billion in 2016, calling it the saviour of the Malaysian economy. The figures given by the government show that every household will pay around RM5,571 extra this year, just for GST.
“This works out to be RM464 per month per household. Working on the figures given by the chief minister yesterday (Tuesday), the average quit rent saving for a residential land title holder is RM26.57 while the average quit rent saving for an agricultural land title holder is RM20.83.”
Baru said this RM20+ was a small saving compared to the RM5,571 that each household had to fork out to save the nation.
“Meanwhile, the PM refuses to answer the RM2.6 billion question and take responsibility for the RM42 billion 1MBD financial scandal, and yet, inexplicably, the chief minister wants him to be the prime minister forever.”
On quit rent, Baru, who is also Ba Kelalan assemblyman, said some village houses in his area were built on untitled NCR lands, and the owners had been paying quit rent for years.
“I urge the government to abolish these as well. To bring more substantial benefits to the people, the chief minister should move to convert all leasehold residential titles to titles in perpetuity so that the people will have certainty over the security of their land ownership. This would be a more meaningful measure that the people will surely appreciate.”
The Borneo Post Online