Natives in Kampung Tangkarason in Sabah are at their wits-end over where to go now that the court has ordered their eviction from their native customary rights (NCR) land.
KOTA KINABALU April 25, 2012: Dozens of families who were served with court notices late last year giving them one month to move out of “their” lands in Kampung Tangkarason, Beluran, are now hoping that the plantation company involved and the court would be merciful on them as they have nowhere to go.
Leader of the group, Nulius Sangkong, 34, who managed to get a stay on the court order said they never dreamed that this could happen to them as natives of Sabah after toiling the lands and living there since 1980s.
He said the families were already exhausted and tired of being pushed here and there and that out of the original 17 families affected, only seven were still pursuing the matter aggressively while the rest just waited for results.
“In fact in 1998 we were even helped by the state rubber industry board (LIGS) in a rubber plantation programme, but suddenly we were told this land belong to a Malacca company.
“We had applied for the land in 1987 which involved 194 applications over a 1,000 acres for settlement and agricultural but there was no positive respond whatsoever,” Sangkong said.
He added that last year the community learned that a Malacca company with alleged links to politicians was granted a land of 20,000 hectares in Sugut.
“How could this be allowed to happen on natives if the government cares about our well-being?” Sangkong said at a follow-up meeting with their lawyer Peter Marajin at his legal firm office in Damai, Luyang here.
A native vice-chief from Tangakarason, Mudat Majupi, 60, who was also present at Marajin’s office urged the state government to be considerate to its people.
He said the kampung folks had only applied for a few hectares of land, unlike companies with (political) links which easily and speedily accessed tens of thousands of hectares.
His brother Mogak, 58, who is the Ketua Kampung of Tangkarason, said he was perplexed by their situation as it is the norm and rule that native customary rights (NCR) over lands are obtained as soon as native settlements had established a three year tenure on any state land.
NCR was an old law erected by the colonial British in recognition of the natives of Sabah, in olden days clearly and easily figured out to be either among the Dusuns, Muruts or Bajaus ethnic groups.
However lately there were arguments that the NCR in Sabah should be limited to occupation of land until 1930 only and that after that the natives must apply.
Leading this argument is none other than the Sabah state attorney-general Roderic Rodriguez.
But countering Rodriguez’s view is Sabah and chief judge Richard Malanjum. According to Malanjun, in Sabah, unlike Sarawak, there is no cut-off time to establish NCR land.