Friday, March 23, 2007

More squatters in rural areas now

If we don’t solve this problem, it can become a social time bomb that could explode in our face: Masing

KUCHING: Angry words were exchanged when bulldozers moved in to demolish Rumah Nyawin in Bintulu in Jan but the fact remains that the longhouse was squatting on State land … and it is not the only one.

Although squatters are often considered an urban problem, the reality is that there are also squatters in rural areas who not only put up shacks close to each other but also whole longhouses.

Land Development Minister Dato Sri Dr James Masing believes the problem with rural squatters must be tackled effectively because it could become a “social time bomb” as well as fodder for the opposition.

He explained that some longhouses moved from their original location because of the changing demographic pattern, particularly infrastructure development.
These “resettled” longhouses were usually not far from their occupants’ actual land, he said.

“In the old days, people followed the river system, so there was a riverine pattern to a settlement. It was very common and most logical because rivers provide access.
“But now roads provide even easier access, and so people move from the riverside to the roadside, and most of the roadside land is land that is new and often State land.
“Still people move there regardless because they want easy access. And because they settle illegally on land that does not belong to them, they are squatters and whoever own the land, have the right to kick them out,” he said in an interview by The Borneo Post.

Masing believed that as the government continued to develop the State and when more infrastructure were in place, the problem of rural squatting would become more glaring.

Already, he had been told, there were several longhouses in Bintulu that could be served with eviction notices.

He admitted that as much as he wanted to symphatise with the people of Rumah Nyawin, the case was handled fairly by the Land and Survey Department.
He said he could not symphatise with people in the wrong.

The department had issued a notice to Rumah Nyawin’s headman in April, 2002, informing him that they were unlawfully occupying government land.
The land had been alienated to the Malaysian Agriculture Research and Development Institute (Mardi) in 1993, and therefore, the occupants of Rumah Nyawin must vacate it.

Masing pointed out that he was very concerned about the problem of rural squatters and could not ignore it because he is president of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) which has 14 elected representatives in rural areas.

He emphasised: “I am very concerned because it involves rural areas and I am sure the government is equally concerned about how to solve this problem with rural squatters because otherwise, it can fall easily to the propaganda of the opposition that we do not care for the rural people.

“We care for the people and we have to have a programme to solve the problem of rural squatters. If we don’t solve it, it can be a social time bomb that could explode in our face.”

Asked what the government could do tackle the problem, Masing said there should be a programme or formula to regularise longhouses on state land which would also require the people to pay land premium.

“The government could alienate an area for them and require them to pay the necessary premium like any other people. What are the correct premium, let the government decide but don’t just leave them alone.

“I think people will pay the premium for the land that they use and I don’t think that will be a problem. The government also earns money from it because it is a leasehold and how many years that will be is also up to the government,” Masing said.

“I say let us tackle this problem of rural squatters. There is no use hiding from it. Squatting in urban areas is not a problem now because of the sound policy of the Barisan Nasional government but there are no programmes for the rural squatters yet.”
Asked why rural squatters only became an issue now, he replied: “The government is now looking seriously at people who are squatting and the government has to take action. There is no choice, we cannot turn a blind eye to what is illegal.

“So now when the government takes action, people say the government is cruel. No, the government is not cruel. You are wrong in the first place but it does not stop us from regularising what was wrong and finding how best to solve it.”

State Land and Survey Department director Sudarsono Osman was not available for comment yesterday.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that PRS is conducting a study on rural squatters to come up with recommendations for the government.

Source: The Borneo Post 23rd March 2007

Sigi sinu ga ninga kitai dikumbai begaga rumah haram ba menua diri empu. Taja pia, kitai mesti ka nemu, menua kitai tauka ka perintah kitai bisi atur ka mesti dititih ka. Amat meh menua tuk menua asal kitai tang nya ukai bereti kitai tau ngaga peneka ko ati kitai. Enti bangat perlu, kitai tau betemu atau betanya ngagai bala ka patut lalu enda sengapa remba.

Aku pecaya, bala perintah pan ulih meri timbang ka patut. Laban pengawa bala ka pindah tu di teju impact pemansang. Sidak pan ka mega enggau ensepi buah pemansang ka dibai perintah lalu ka meh ngemansang pendiau diri. Kena ngemansang ka pendiau diri, sida sigi amat beguna ka jalai. Ari ka nganti jalai kebus ba menua sidak, nyamai agik sidak mindah ka diri empu lalu tuk ngejung ka sidak berumah ba tanah perintah.

Kitai sigi amat ngarap perintah ulih ngiga siti formula ti amat – amat ngena kena ngemutar ka utai baka tuk. Kitai mega ngarap formulanya ukai semina nguntung ka sepiak aja, tang meri penguntung ngagai semua lalu ulih nyeliah utai ka enda manah ari nyadi.

Pengawa PRS ka mansik utai tuk sigi patut disukung lalu kitai ngarap ari pansik sidak tuk, sidak ulih ngiga tauka meri formula ka patut ngambi issu tuk ulih ditanggam enggau manah.

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