Thursday, November 6, 2014

Land Reforms to Resolve Land Issues Problems and Native Rights - Dr. Jeffrey

Kota Kinabalu:    “Sabahans especially the natives are increasingly confronted with land problems as land becomes scarce.  The law protecting native customary rights is also increasingly being put to the test.   In addition, government policies of the Umno BN government are also less inclined towards the Sabah natives in favour of politically linked companies and Malay rights.”

This was said by Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, STAR Sabah Chief cum Bingkor Assemblyman, who visited Kg. Malinsau, Ranau, for a dialogue with the native villagers on the on-going legal tussle and conflicting claims to the disputed lands there.

There are many cases in point of land grabs happening all over Sabah including in Pitas, Telupid, Tongod, Kunak, Sook, Sepulut and Tenom.

The latest land controversy involved a West Malaysian based company, Worthy Palms Sdn. Bhd., and the native villages of Kg. Malinsau, Kg. Wayan and Kg. Sinurai in the District of Ranau, collectively called “MAWASI”).  

At stake is about 1,150 acres of land which have long occupied and applied for by these native villagers.   But their applications were never completely processed, was later approved to a former state representative who died, was inherited by his son, who later sold it to the company.

The land, however, was never surveyed by the Lands and Surveys Department except, perhaps, on the desk (“atas meja”).

When the company (who bought the land) came to develop the land, it was shocked to find that the land was not only occupied but largely planted with rubber trees by the natives, who depended on the land for their livelihood.

The issue went to Court and the latter decided in favour of the company.  Armed with the Court decision, the company accompanied by the police, court officials and employees and foreigners claimed possession of the land by driving out the native villagers and started cutting down their rubber trees with chain saws and heavy machineries.

Naturally, the native villagers protested and refused to give in claiming that this was their ancestral land which they have settled for up to 8 generations and have even applied for it.   They reinforced this claim by claiming NCR.

Looking at these cases from the point of view of the Land Ordinance, land administration and land policiies, we can discern certain current practices which can be improved to resolve future problems.   They include:-

(1)     NCR definition to be made clearer;
(2)     Decisions of the Director of Lands and Surveys must be appealable;
(3)     A Land Tribunal must be created as a mechanism to resolve land disputes such as that involving MAWASI;
(4)     The conditions in the Native Titles should be amended to allow it to be used for commercial and industrial purposes other than for agriculture;
(5)     A Native Land Foundation should be established as a vehicle to assist and safeguard the interests of natives, economically and socially.

This is what I proposed in my motion under a Private Member’s Bill in the coming DUN sitting.

I have full confidence that the other YBs and the Sabah government will support this Bill in the common interest of the people, particularly, the indigenous people of Sabah. 

Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan
STAR Sabah
06 November 2014


Post a Comment