SIBU, June 29 (Bernama) -- The state government will not resort tousurping the people's lands to implement large-scale plantation projects.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud said Wednesday that this wasbecause the government had about four million hectares of its own.
"We want to use especially Native Customary Rights (NCR) lands for thepurpose because we want to help the native landowners," he said.
If the government were to use its own lands, the NCR lands would remainidle and not generate income for their owners, he said before laying thefoundation stone for Ta Ann Group's RM25 million Crude Palm Oil mill atits pioneer oil palm plantation in Naman, about 15km from here.
The occasion coincided with the signing of a memorandum of understandingbetween Ta Ann, represented by its executive chairman, Datuk Abdul HamedSepawi, and Hong Kong Shanghai Bank Corporation, represented by itscommercial banking division managing director Richard Lee Say Tshin, for aloan of RM125 million.
Taib called on the natives, especially the Iban and the Orang Ulu, tomerge their individual lots to form bigger entities for large-scalecommercial plantation in joint ventures with selected investors.
He said their land would only be valuable if it was developed.
He praised companies like Ta Ann and others for helping the government tocreate rural growth centres using their own funds, expertise and manpower.
State Land Development Minister Datuk Seri Dr James Jemut Masing, in hisspeech, said the state government aimed to develop one million hectaresfor oil palm plantation by 2010.
He said that in two to three years, more NCR lands would be turned intocommercial oil palm or tree planting plantations.