Thursday, June 23, 2011

DUN (Day Two): Baru sees many loopholes in amended LCDA Bill

OPPOSITION MEMBERS: (seated left to right) Krian assemblyman Ali Biju, Baru and See Chee How (Batu Lintang) speaking to reporters at the State Legislative Complex yesterday.
Posted on June 23, 2011, Thursday

KUCHING: State PKR liaison chief Baru Bian is perturbed by the passing of the Land Custody and Development Authority (LCDA) (Amendment, Bill 2011) at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) yesterday.

Baru (PKR-Ba’Kelalan), a lawyer specialising in native customary rights (NCR) land issue told reporters that there were still many loopholes in the bill.

“As it stands, I do not approve of the proposed bill. However, let me make it clear that we (Pakatan Rakyat) do not oppose development of NCR land. What we are very concerned about is the abuse of the proposed development and the exploitation of the people in power of the development of NCR land.
“When we talk about development of NCR land, the principal ordinance is already there. Whether we approve or not the proposed amendment bill, development of NCR is already given under LCDA. The only thing we need to consider now is whether the bill is helpful to natives and whether the idea is good or not,” he clarified when met after the DUN sitting was adjourned for the day.

One of the main objections raised by Baru was the deeming of join-venture (JV) companies with controlling shares incorporated by LCDA as government agencies. He highlighted that this was dangerous because if there were problems with JV agreements between or connected with LCDA, then redress-like injunction will not be possible.

“Taking injunction on the government is not allowed under the law. If there is misunderstanding amongst the people, JV native companies and the government, no action can be taken. However, under the Public Authority Proceeding Act, you already limited the acts against the government within 36 months,” he highlighted.

In this sense that Baru pointed out that notices to notify the landowners which are affected by the proposed development should be very specific and ensured that it could be summoned.

“We suggested that notice should be very specific including pinning the notice of proposed development area on the doors of the tuai rumah. It very important because in my experience, lots of these development, questions on rights, rights in timber and such, if we only publish in the paper, the rural people wouldn’t know about it.

“It must be communicated to them. Assuming the development area is already declared and there are no communications with the native, and suddenly
the communities found out that their area has already been developed say, after three years, the natives are already out of time to sue them as the 36 months period is almost finish,” he explained.

Baru also raised the communal land issue, the ‘Pemakai Menua’. He asked what would happen and who would give consent on communal land for the people in the area. Baru pointed out that the opposition agreed on a few things such as the requirement of the consent of owners to the development.

“The idea of developing the land is very good. I appreciate the assurance given by the Minister but this can still be open to abuse. It was passed without any amendment. At the end of the day, it would be left to the court whether what has been done is visible, legal and valid,”

Adding that the bill could probably still be open to debate, he mentioned that the mediation is taken as retrospective and there is a section that says that; Any agreement entered by the authority even before this amendment is mediation to be enforced.

“This is the retrospective that I think can be open to legal challenge.”

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