KANOWIT: Native Customary Rights (NCR) land has been an evergreen issue in rural constituencies during Sarawak's state elections. This coming 10th state election, there are indications it will be more pronounced.
NCR land is set to become the "mother" of all issues when candidates romance the rural voters.
It becomes an issue, basically because some people are against the concept of commercial development on joint ventureship with the big players which they believe does not benefit the owners at all.
It is also an issue because the owners themselves are exasperated that the government does not recognise the NCR status they claim their land should have, and gives it to huge companies to develop, by virtue they are state land.
The state Land Code only recognises land occuppied and cultivated before 1957 to be NCR land. Beyond this, the onus is on the owners to provide proof.
According to state Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) chief Baru Bian, there were not less than 200 pending court cases statewide over NCR land problems.
Eight-term Machan state constituency assemblyman Datuk Gramong Juna, 64, is no stranger to facing NCR-related woes. There has been an endless stream of politicians trying to end his political career, beginning in the 2001 state election, just by capitalising on the NCR issue.
Gramong, who started his political career in 1987, is perhap the only dayak politician to have faced the most deleterious of attacks by anti-NCR land development activists and certain non-governmental organisations.
In his own words, he said he had "faced the worst and survived and now enjoy a sort of immunity".
It is largely in the confines of his Machan state seat in 1996 that the state's first pilot NCR land commercial development project was implemented. — Bernama
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