by Yunus Yussop. Posted on February 28, 2011, Monday
BINTULU: Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said he is ready for a public debate with state Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) liaison chief Baru Bian if the latter can come out with strong evidence to support his allegation that the government had seized Native Customary Rights (NCR) land.
Taib said it was better for him (Baru) to submit proof before throwing the challenge to debate on NCR land issue.
“That allegation is without foundation and intentionally inflicted. He (Baru) just wants to argue and if he wants, he has to prove it (allegation is true),” he told reporters at the opening of the 8th annual general assembly of Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) here yesterday.
He was commenting on Baru’s challenge for a debate with him on NCR land issue which the government said was an ‘old issue’.
Taib said as the state government had never seized land titles, claims on seizure of NCR land must be accompanied by evidence.
He cited a case whereby folk of Rh Chang in Miri were given back their land in early 1980s after he found a letter containing their claim.
“If I had bad intention when I saw the letter at the Miri Land and Survey office, I would certainly hide it.
“But I found a written evidence showing that the land is owned by Rh Chang. To date Rh Chang is still there,” he said.
Baru issued the challenge in response to Second Minister of Planning and Resource Management Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan’s statement last Friday that “the opposition always harps on NCR land issues” which he said was an “old issue”.
Awang Tengah was also quoted as saying the government had never robbed landowners of land, of which Baru disagreed.
Baru suggested that Taib send either Awang Tengah or Minister of Land Development Dato Sri Dr James Masing to represent him in the debate if he could not make it.
He suggested that the debate be held at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) with television coverage.
He urged the government to respond within two weeks, after which he would write an official invitation.
Source: The Borneo Post