Gawai ‘gift’ that never came

By Joseph Tawie

KUCHING: Angry participants of Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Salcra) in Lundu are rueing the day they re-elected Barisan Nasional because the government has failed to keep promises made during its campaign.

Native landowners in Lundu are demanding that Michael Manyin, who is State Infrastructure Development and Communication Ministe, fulfil a promise made to them just before the campaign for the April state election.

They want Manyin to issue the balance of 3,455 land titles which he promised to give them by June 2011.

Manyin visited the Stenggang and Bratak Oil palm plantations on March 26 during the run-up to the April 16 state election.

During his visit he handed over 1,044 land titles to the scheme participants and pledged to issue the balance by mid-2011.

Witnesses to his promise included several Bidayuh leaders and politicians from the Sarawak Barisan Nasional coalition.

However, todate there has been no news from Manyin.

The landowners expected the titles to be issued as “Gawai Dayak” gifts, but they never came.

The failure on the part of the minister to fulfil the promise has further incensed the scheme participants who hail from Kampung Stenggang, Kampung Stum Muda, Kampung Stungkor, Kampung Bokiah and Kampung Raso 1 and 2.

Unhappy landowners

The landowners have been waiting in frustration for the past 15 years for the land titles to be issued to them.

“These plantations spanning 4,759 hectares are now about 15 years old.

“The majority of the participants have yet to receive their land titles,” said Boniface Willy Anak Tumek, a member of Sarawak PKR political bureau.

He said that a group of more than 20 participants had approached and requested him to highlight their plight to the press.

“Until today, the promise has remained a mere promise, unfulfilled and elusive.

“These participants are very unhappy and they are demanding that the minister, who is also a Salcra board member.

“They are also asking their Opar assemblyman Ranum Mina to deliver on the promise immediately.

“They are asking whether the government is waiting for another general election to make another promise,” said Willy.

Low dividends

Wily said the landowners were aware that the government was using the land titles as “candies” meant to persuade them to vote for the BN candidate, and they fell for it.

They have now realised they were cheated as they voted overwhelmingly for the BN-SUPP candidate Ranom Mina, added Willy.

The participants have also expressed their frustration over low dividends from the schemes, with an average of RM269 per acre per year or an average of RM22.50 per acre per month.

Meanwhile, sources from the Land and Survey Department said that it is difficult to determine the boundaries of the individual landownership as certain landmarks have disappeared.

Nevertheless, some titles will be issued at an appropriate time, said the sources. – FMT

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