KOTA KINABALU 23/10/2012: Top priority is given in tackling the right of ownership on Native Customary Rights (NCR) land and to find the best solutions to problems to protect the interest of the natives.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said every NCR claim received by the government would be studied as deeply as possible to confirm its legitimacy.
“I will ensure priority will be given to looking after, preserving and protecting the interest of the natives,”
he told Datuk Nilwan Kabang (Umno-Kunak) at the State Assembly, yesterday.
Musa, who is also the State Finance Minister, said 890,626.47 hectares or 45 per cent of the total government land had been given ownership in Sabah through five methods, including Native Title (NT), equity and gazetting.
In this regard, he said 17,501 applications for land were processed last year and 6,872 were backed for approval through a meeting of the District Land Utilisation Committee (LUC), with 6,218 applications under Native Title.
As of August 2012, 35,350 applications for land were processed and 10,540 including 9,922 under NT were supported for approval via a meeting of LUC.
He said NCR claims could still be forwarded under Section 14 to the Assistant Collector of Land Revenue (PPHT) although the Sabah Land Ordinance had been legislated on Dec 13, 1930. At the same time, the state government would continue to strive to increase land ownership by Sabah-born through other simpler and effective means.
He said until December 2011, the state government through the Land and Survey Department had registered 348,652 land ownerships. Of the total, 190,452 were NT and given to applicants through the land application approval process.
“This is 55 per cent of the overall number of land ownerships registered in Sabah. A total of 1,970,961 hectares had been given ownerships, and of the total, 487,680 hectares were under NT which is 24.7 per cent of the land ownerships registered in Sabah,” he said.
In rejecting accusations saying the state government sidelined claims for NCR and discriminated against giving land rights to Sabah-born, he said the government was always open to criticisms, views and constructive suggestions to boost the delivery system from time to time.
Musa said the Forestry Department had also been ordered to cease the new delineation process of the forest reserves in several areas resided and worked by residents to allow investigations to be carried out on their status.
The state government, he added, was also planning to issue communal grants in Kota Marudu (17,000 acres), Pintas (10,000 acres), Tongod (15,000 acres) and Semporna (5,117.12 acres).
He said the state government, in the State Assembly sitting in April 2010, had dissolved 24,563 hectares from the Sook plain forest reserve and Mandalom through a land swap with government land to enable communal grants to be issued.
“Until December 2011, 36,486.43 hectares had been and are being developed with agricultural plantation in a smart partnership between government agencies and in-situ Sabahans,” he said.
He said since 2000 until today, there were 41 cases involving 1,243 claims by Sabahans filed in court which involved NCR claim issues, of which 10 claims were rejected involving 1,021 claimants while only four claims were allowed by the court involving 17 claimants, and five cases involving 17 claimants opted for consent judgements.
Four cases involving five claimants were withdrawn and the remaining 18 cases, involving 183 claimants, had not been decided by the court.
In the meantime, he said 615 customary land demand cases had been registered whereby 207 were recognised, 70 rejected and 338 still being investigated.
In this regard, he said the state government pledged to speed up the investigating process of cases which were still being investigated by using the Native Customary Rights Fast Unit (PANTAS), especially in the rural areas under the Sabah Land Ordinance.
The Chief Minister also reminded that NCR issues should not be manipulated because it touched on the interest on the natives who should be supported by all parties to ensure such issues could be tackled and properly solved.