Interpretation by the State AG regarding the cut-off date for NCR in Sabah is an insult to Natives.  AG must understand that:

A) historical documents based on reports by authorities on land during the British colonial period, Commissioner of Land now Director of Lands and Survey and District Officers argued strongly to continue accepting NCR claims because the NCR land settlements was never completed and that the registration of NCR claims was limited because of the lack of understanding of the concept of native land use and ownership. This lack of understanding persists to this day, and exemplified in the processes adopted by the state in issuing native titles. Those authorities dealing with NCR claims then felt that giving a cut-off date may infringe on the rights of the natives, and have advised the colonial government against it.

B) There was never any mention even by the Land and Surveys Department or the state government regarding such a cut-off date before. In any case, before any new interpretation is put forward, particularly one as important as setting a cut-off date on NCR that would adversely affect the rights of native peoples, there must be adequate discussions and the decision must be based on the principles of Free, Prior and Informed Consent of the natives of Sabah.

C) There are many complaints from Natives of Sabah that the procedure of land applications through the normal process of getting a title, including the three ways mentioned by the AG, are flawed and disempowering for Native people. SUHAKAM reported that about 80% of the complaints it received are due to administrative and procedural issues in applying for a title. A simpler procedure to record NCR under S14 of the Sabah Land Ordinance has been stopped for almost 10 years. To now try and implement an NCR cut-off date as far back as 1931 would only invite verification nightmares and serious delays in determining NCR claims. The cut-off date in Sarawak of 1 January 1958 has created numerous problems for the Natives and the Sarawak government, and it would be wise for the Sabah government not to take such a path.

D) The concept of NCR originates from customary laws of the natives of Sabah, and incorporated in the Sabah Land Ordinance 1930 under S15, though not in a comprehensive manner. For example, S15 failed to include, among others, fallow land under the traditional agriculture cycle, community water catchment areas, community conserved areas for hunting, fishing, sago cultivation, firewood, or ceremonial areas. But communities continue to this day to uphold their own customary laws with respect to land ownership which means that whoever opens a piece of land within their traditional territory, gains ownership right to that land. Although most NCR claims are based on generations of occupation and use, some new land which are opened after 1930 as a result of increasing population pressure in a particular village territory would still be recognised as NCR land under customary law.

E) It should be pointed out to the AG that the judiciary and native communities do not interpret NCR to mean that any native can occupy any state land anytime, anywhere. Native communities recognise inter-village boundaries and opening of land is subject to customary law.

via Adopted from NCR CUT-OFF DATE, DENY NATIVE RIGHTS.

Advertisements