MIRI: Many native landowners in the state are trapped in poverty because of their fear of allowing the authorities to open up their land for development, said Sarawak Assistant Minister for Industrial Development Datuk Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.
These doubts had resulted in many of them living in poverty when they could be enjoying bountiful returns from their land, he said.
“They are afraid of letting others develop their land and yet they themselves have no money to carry out projects on their own.
“This negative mentality is hampering their progress and hindering the government’s efforts to help them improve their standard of living,” he told about 100 landowners at the Land and Survey Department here yesterday.
Awang Tengah, who handed over RM1.4mil in compensation to landowners affected by land acquisition projects, said that if landowners allowed their land to be opened up, the value of their property would increase rapidly.
“Take for example, the areas in Belaga district near the Bakun hydroelectric dam project.
“The value of the land there has increased a lot because of the project. If the Bakun project was not implemented, no highway would have been built (by the Federal Government) and the land there would have no value at all,” he noted.
He stressed that the state government had approved some 400 development projects which would require land to be acquired from private owners.
The land was for the building of infrastructure and the government would pay compensation based on the market rate, he said.
“More than RM700mil in compensation will have to be paid out to the affected landowners but this amount is very small compared with the total cost of these projects,” he said.