KOTA KINABALU September 23, 2012: Villagers in Kampung Ulu Sawatan, Kimanis have claimed that the lands they had applied for and had developed for 35 years have fallen unjustly into the hands of others.
“Previous generations of our family have been exploring the lands for more than 35 years before the land application was made in the early 80′s.
“The areas were once planted with rice, fruit and rubber but have been largely destroyed by fire in the early 90′s.
“After that, we replanted the crops, particularly rubber, and we have been tapping the trees for several years now.
“But I was shocked when we informed a few weeks ago that the lands actually belongs to someone else now. Some of my timber, which I left for future use have also been taken, “said Steven Koijan, 53.
He brought up the matter with reporters where more than 30 residents gathered to show their dissatisfaction at Kg Kelatuan Show two days ago.
Steven said he applied for 10 acres of land of which about six acres have been planted with rubber and have long been tapped.
His sister, Christine Koijan, 45, also suffered the same fate and has filed a police report on the matter.
“I do not know anyone who received the grant for the land. I hope there are people who will help us solve this problem. Why is it that we applied but other people get the land, “he said.
She was also disappointed with the statement Pantai Manis PBS chief Datuk Johnny Mositun recently made where he claimed there was no encroachment and illegal logging in Ulu Kimanis.
“As a leader he should investigate first, including our position as the indigenous inhabitants of Kg Ulu Sawatan, Kimanis. We are really disappointed… our rights have been hijacked, “he said.
John Jinal, 59, from Kg. Gadong claimed that he was among the 147 people who have titled lands that have been invaded by logging companies.
“There is an agreement with the logging companies to take logs from our land, but the agreement expired in April this year after a one year extension from the original expiry date of April 2011.
“But they continue to take our logs which means they are now trespassing.
“I also made two police reports on the matter. The first report was about the fraud and I later filed a report on the invasion of land, “he said.
Meanwhile, Kg Kelatuan village chief, Stephen Augustine, who also applied for land in the same area, said that efforts would be made to ensure that all applicants and owners whose lands have been invaded would also file reports to the police on the matter.
“At the same time, we have requested KDM Malaysia president, Datuk Peter Anthony to help us resolve this issue.
We believe that his concern for the indigenous people in this state can help make a change. Furthermore he is a leader who is always on the field, “he said.
According to Augustine, most of the land applicants are currently residing in Kg Kelatuan.