Monday, February 29, 2016

Masing denies he and Adenan at odds over land policy

Sarawak Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing said claims that he and Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem were at odds on the state's oil palm plantation policy had either been misunderstood by critics on the policy or were "merely politicising government policies based on ignorance". "I am not at odds with Adenan on (the state's) rural (development) policy. In fact, we are on the same page," Masing said of the claims that were also reported on the private radio station, Radio Free Sarawak. RFS, in a February 26 new bulletin reported "a clash" between Adenan's stated policy direction and that of his Minister of Land Development James Jemut Masing. "Adenan has declared categorically that there will be no more new plantations on state land in Sarawak and that he is for the smallholder." But Masing, RFS had said based on a report by local daily The Borneo Post, had said "a further 700,000 hectares (would) to be opened up for oil palm, bringing the total to two million hectares". "Both of us agree that planting oil palm on native customary rights (NCR) land must continue as a means to eradicate rural poverty and I will continue to encourage NCR land owners to do so," the senior state minister told The Malaysian Insider. "I will continue to invite investors to assist the government to plant oil palm on NCR land. "My ministry is also urging Putrajaya to give me more funds to enable NCR land to be developed. "This is part of Adenan's policy of 'Going Rural'," Masing said. "I agree with Adenan that we should stop oil palm being planted on state land because this is a possible source of dispute between NCR landowners and the state govt. "Whoever alleges that Adenan and my ministry are at odds on rural policy either misunderstands our modus operandi on rural development or they are merely politicising govt policies based ignorance." Adenan about a year ago froze alienation of state land for plantations, saying the move was to prevent further deforestation. There are exceptions, however, for communal and NCR land. The chief minister had said large portions of the state's forest had been developed for oil palm plantations apart from being destroyed by legal and illegal logging activities. – February 29, 2016.]]>

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