Finally! Is James Masing of Parti Rakyat Sarawak finally acquiring a spine on the urgent matter of NCR land? The latest report by Tony Thien in MALAYSIAKINI shows a still tentative and hesitant James Masing saying, "We like the government to consider (a review of the policy on NCR land) because our party is rural-based so land will be an issue."
Malaysiakini further reports what Tony learnt that Dayak members have spoken of their growing concern about threats to the future status of NCR lands, especially with the opening up of more lands for commercial oil palm plantations and, tree planting and harvesting schemes throughout Sarawak. There has been increasing conflicts between oil palm and timber companies and NCR land-owners comprising mostly Dayaks such as Iban, Orang Ulu and Bidayuh communities. There are now nearly 200 litigation cases by NCR land-owners pertaining to lands claims and damages to crops.
I have written about NCR land issues on several occasions. The issues facing the Dayaks are serious and the race is now on between BN and Pakatan to woo the Dayak voters in the Sarawak State elections that is looming within the next 24 months.
The question in the minds of most analysts is whether CM Taib will keep James Masing and PRS on a tight leash on the issue of NCR land. If Masing and PRS cannot articulate a clear policy on NCR land to the satisfaction of the Dayak electorate, then BN Sarawak may stand to lose many seats. Pakatan will, no doubt, be assembling a coherent NCR land policy package.