‘It’s a fact-finding mission, not witch-hunting’

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    SIBU: Malaysian Human Rights Commission’s (Suhakam) ‘Public Hearings for National Inquiry into Land Rights of Indigenous People’ is not meant to find fault with parties involved in Native Customary Rights (NCR) land issues. Suhakam commissioner Detta Samen said it was more a fact-finding mission by which they would compile a report based on the outcome of cases heard during the inquiry.“This whole exercise is not to decide who is right or who is wrong.

    “The most we can do is to listen to complaints and responses from the government agencies or companies involved. “We will file a report with some recommendations or suggestions based on our findings. This will later be forwarded to the relevant government agencies, State Legislative Assembly, Dewan Negara and to the public,” he told reporters when met on the sidelines of the hearing at the Civic Centre here yesterday. The hearing was heard before Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam, Detta and commissioner James Nayagam.

    Detta said Suhakam did not want the people to question its authority or ask why it was conducting such hearings. He explained that Suhakam was given a mandate under its Act and also clearance from the Attorney General, Chief Secretary’s offices, as well as the State Legal Counsel Datuk J C Fong and the State Secretary’s Office. “We are doing this in accordance with our mandate after we get the clearance.” On a similar matter, another Suhakam commissioner Jannie Lasimbang said it received a total of 198 complaints on NCR land during its public consultations state-wide between July and September last year. For the hearings, she said Suhakam had identified seven categories of alleged violations of rights to NCR land in the state.

    They included encroachment into or disposition of native land; administration of land matters; gazetting of native land into Forest, Wildlife and Water Catchment Reserves and Parks, as well as plantation schemes and other commercial development projects; and the issue of compensation. “Suhakam does not take cases that had been taken to court.” More than 100 witnesses were expected to appear during the hearings in four places in the state. The hearings would be on until March 14. Sibu is the second stopover for the hearings after Serian. Bintulu will be next (March 7 to 10), and Miri (March 12 to 14) is the last stop.

    source: Boneopost online