Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ironic that land-rich Bumis are poor: Tengah

TOKEN OF APPRECIATION: Assistant Minister of Land Development Mohd Naroden Majais (fourth left) presents a souvenir to Tengah at the closing of the seminar.

BINTULU: Sarawak Bumiputeras own a lot of land, particularly native customary land (NCL), but the irony is most of them are still living below the poverty line.

In other countries, whoever own land become rich, but in Sarawak those who have land do nothing to develop or add value to them, said Second Minister of Planning and Resource Management Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan.

Speaking at the closing of a two-day state-level land seminar at ParkCity Everly Hotel yesterday, Tengah said if the community does not understand the government’s land policies and make the best use of them, they would not benefit at all.

“So it is hoped that through the seminar the participants can understand the policies. Hopefully it can also narrow the information gap between the NCL owners and the government,” said Tengah.

He stressed that the community should be aware of each policy especially those involving the development of land.

This, he said, is to avoid confusion and most importantly to prevent the community from falling prey to some parties who might want to exploit the issues for their own interest.

“Let’s hope that through the seminar, certain problems and issues regarding land can be reconciled,” he said.

Tengah said following his observation throughout the two-day seminar, the participants were supportive of government policies.

“So what remains to be emphasised now is the implementation,” he said.

He pointed out that the government was responsive to the people’s needs and any shortcoming in the implementation of a particular policy would soon be rectified immediately.

Sarawak is the biggest state in Malaysia and if possible the government would send all its relevant workers to monitor land development to prevent any mishandling of projects by contractors, he said.

“But the people also need to give us support and cooperation and should any problems arise or intruders disturb their land, they must tell the authorities immediately.

“Recently we took action against some companies who were given Provisional Lease (PL) to develop some land.

“It turned out that they violated the stipulation under the PL and intruded into native customary land,” said Tengah.

Therefore he called on all NCL owners to safeguard their land titles, but at the same time work together with the government through a new concept of NCL development.

Tengah also urged those who have small plots of NCLs to combine their land with others and get them developed with private companies or government agencies like Felcra.

“But make sure the lands are intact and can be inherited by future generations,” he said.

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