KOTA KINABALU April 26, 2012: Matters pertaining to land issues dominated the complaints received by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) in Sabah last year.
Its Annual Report 2012 stated a total of 250 complaints were recorded throughout 2011, and of the number, 153 were on land matters.
Other complaints comprised 29 on undocumented migrant workers, citizenship (15), birth certificates (12), social services such as education and welfare (11), employment issues on accidents, unpaid salary or Employers Provident Fund and work permits (10), police matters on preventive detention and inaction on reports (nine), five each on detention of family members at Temporary Holding Centres and court cases, and one on detention under the Internal Security Act 1960.
The Commission has resolved 45 cases and is attending to 148 others, while another 57 have been marked as requiring ‘No Further Action’.
Most of the complaints came personally to the Sabah Suhakam office, while others submitted by way of memoranda and letters. Oral statements were also recorded through interviews during activities organised by the State and Federal Public Complaints Bureau in different districts.
In line with the Commission’s ongoing National Inquiry (NI) into the Land Rights of Indigenous People (IP) in Malaysia, the Sabah Suhakam office worked with the NI Secretariat to disseminate information and make preparations for the public consultation process.
On Feb 14, its resident Commissioner, Jannie Lasimbang, and the Sabah officer, Jasmih Slamat, paid a courtesy call on the State Assembly Speaker Datuk Seri Panglima Mohd Salleh Tun Said, to confirm a briefing on the NI for State legislators, Members of Parliament and Senators.
The meeting was followed by a half-day briefing on Mar 3, which 45 representatives attended. However, attempts to schedule a similar briefing for the State Secretary and relevant government agencies fell through because a suitable date could not be identified.
On Feb 16, a similar briefing was held for 98 representatives of IPs, non-governmental organisations, academia and the media, and during the dialogue session, several organisations stated their intention to participate actively in the NI.
In preparing for the public consultations, the Sabah Suhakam Office distributed 3,000 pamphlets and 500 posters, and put up 12 banners all over the State. This was done with the help of volunteers from PACOS Trust and the Indigenous People Network of Malaysia. The Kaamatan (Harvest) Festival from May 30-31 provided a timely opportunity to reach large numbers of people.
The consultations were held in six locations – Keningau, Tenom, Penampang, Kota Marudu, Tawau and Sandakan – from June 17 to July 5.
On completion of the process, the Sabah Suhakam Office continued to assist the NI Secretariat by following up with relevant organisations and government agencies, to encourage written submissions.
The Sabah Office was also involved in the NI research for Sabah, in particular the creation of an online database of complaints by IPs relating to land, and facilitating the coordination meetings with the Sabah Research Team.