KOTA KINABALU August 20, 2011: Land matter is still one of the major concerns of the people in Sabah, said United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (UPKO).
The party through its Legal and Land Matters Bureau is in the process of compiling all the real land problems in all the UPKO divisions in Sabah.
So far the bureau has gathered or received some of those real land problems from the various UPKO divisions.
Bureau chairman Senator Datuk Maijol Mahap said this after chairing the bureau meeting recently at the UPKO headquarters which was attended by his committee members and UPKO divisional leaders.
He said in the past the party had made a roadshow in the various places in the state to organise seminar on land matter, especially on Native Customary Rights (NCR).
“I think generally, people understand what is NCR because it is highlighted every now and then not just by us in UPKO, but also by other relevant bodies such as SUHAKAM, PACOS and some other political parties and also through court cases on NCR in the civil court.
“However, to understand is one thing but to get the problems solved is another thing. What we do is that we don’t want to just talk about the land law and procedure in NCR. What we want is to know the real land problems that exist in the state,” he said.
Maijol said what he had gathered from the division leaders so far on the real land problem in their divisions, which among all were the delay in the process of land application, the delay in the survey of the land, the delay in the issuance of title and equally serious one in that many lands in Sabah which are occupied by the natives either as village with a lot of houses built on it or planted by them with crops of economic value, are actually owned or applied by government agency and big companies.
“The village people are competing with them to get the land. Further, there is also this long overdue problem of villages and people being trapped in the forest reserves and in the SFI (Sabah Forest Industries) concession area,” he pointed out.
“With the aggressiveness of the government agency and the big companies to compete with village people, you can predict the result, which is the village people will lose out because their abilities are limited in many ways compared to their competitors. Once the lands are ‘owned’ by the government agency, it is not easy for the village people be displace them because any decision to excise their land for the village need cabinet approval, and of course the government agency is not willing to excise except through political will and wisdom of the government.
“I trust and believe the Land and Survey Department and the government are compassionate to take care of the welfare of the people. When the lands are applied and owned by the government agency and big companies, there will be no more land for the natives to apply. Don’t forget the availability of land was already drastically reduced with the FMU (Forest Management Unit) policy in the state in the past,” he said.
Maijol added UPKO wanted to gather the real land problems faced by the natives because the party would like to help them to take it into the next steps to solving or mitigating their problem.