By S. Harrish
LONGHOUSE folks of Tanjung Manis in Sibu have lost their case for the declaration of native customary rights (NCR) land and land titles.
The 173 longhouse folks had filed a suit against the state government, and the Land and Survey Department, claiming NCR over 15,000 hectares in Sungai Sebayang, Tusok, Batang Belawai and Tanjung Manis.
Judicial Commissioner Christopher Chin Soo Yin ruled that the plaintiffs have failed to establish a credible claim that they or their ancestors have created NCR over such lands prior to 1958 and have since been continuously cultivating and occupying the same area.
According to a Borneo Post report, he said the testimony of the plaintiffs’ witnesses did not match up and at times conflicted with their case.
Chin said some of the plaintiffs were not even sure of the extent of the area claimed and could only point to certain precise areas they or their ancestors allegedly farmed.
He said one of the witnesses conceded that he or their parents had already received compensation from the government upon the extinguishment of their NCR.
Chin dismissed the claim by the plaintiffs and ordered RM3,000 in cost to be paid to each of the defendants.
The lawyer for the longhouse folks Abdul Raafidin Majidi said they would continue to fight for their rights.
“We are frustrated that we’ve lost the case. We still want to fight. We have 10 days to file the notice of appeal,” he said.
The suit was filed in September 2019 after provisional land leases were granted to state-owned Pusaka Capital Sdn Bhd in 2017 and 2018.
The plaintiffs claimed that the provisional land leases encroached upon their NCR land.
They said that prior to the issuance of the provisional leases, they had through multiple correspondences or letters to various parties requested that their NCR land be surveyed.
The plaintiffs had also applied for a prohibitive injunction restraining Pusaka, its contractors, subcontractors, and employees from trespassing, clearing, using or occupying the NCR land.