TAWAU 1st July, 2011: A farmer in Sungai Menteri claimed that she lost her 15-acre land when it was identified as being inside a Class 1 Forest Reserve which forced her family to seek shelter with relatives at a nearby village.
Yok anak Serit, 55, who is a mother of three children, said she and her husband began farming on the area in 1985 after they obtained a Land Application under his name.
According to her, 100 other farmers in the same area suffered the same fate when their land, also still under Land Application, was taken by the Forestry Department in February last year for being inside a Forest Reserve.
“If it is true that our land is within a Forest Reserve, then why is logging permitted there before we moved in and during our time there?” she asked at the SUHAKAM National Inquiry on native customary land rights here yesterday.
When they still had the land to work on, the family could earn up toRM2,000 a month but now the family had nothing to live on. Her husband who is already 76 years old can no longer work due to old age.
“Even wild animals have a place to live so why not us?” asked Yok left her hometown in Sarawak in 1975 to live in Sabah.
Another farmer from Ulu Landau, Arita Rudiansah Abu Bakar, 41, submitted a memorandum to SUHAKAM on behalf of 540 farmers seeking help from the government after their land was taken by the Forestry Department in 2009.
Each one of them had been working on an area of 15 acres for the past 28 years before the land was taken.
Pengerusinya, Tan Sri Hasmy Agam berkata, kebanyakan pengadu mengemukakan isu yang hampir sama iaitu memohon pembelaan berhubung hak mereka ke atas tanah adat yang diduduki atau diusahakan.