KOTA KINABALU 3/10/2012: Sabah STAR or the State Reform Party yesterday announced that it has been cleared by the Election Commission (EC) and is now qualified to contest in the 13th general election, both in State and Parliament seats, nationwide.
Sabah STAR chairman, Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said this was conveyed to him by the State EC Director at a meeting on Monday.
“STAR is also listed in the approved political parties qualified to contest in PRU-13,”
announced Dr Jeffrey at a press conference held here yesterday, to announce STAR’s stand on the Sabah Land and NCR (Native Customary Right) issue.
He noted that the meeting with the State EC was to seek clarification following rumours being spread by other political parties against Sabah STAR.
“STAR is being targeted by these rumours and political parties so as to deflect their dwindling support as well as their inability to answer to the empowerment and enlightenment of the people on the real issues – formation of Malaysia, the downgrading from equal partnership status to mere 12th and 13th states in Malaysia, marginalisation of the people in Sabah and Sarawak, lop-sided revenue taking by the federal government and 95 per cent of the oil revenue by Petronas and the neo-colonisation of the Borneo States as diligently spread by STAR through their Borneo tea parties,” he said.
He also said although STAR is qualified and entitled to contest seats in the Peninsula, the party will focus on their core support areas in Sabah and Sarawak, and therefore do not intend to contest in West Malaysia.
He continued that the party is fully prepared to contest in the 13th general election and have launched its election machinery in many of its core areas although efforts are being made to team up with other opposition parties to ensure a “1 to 1 contest” with the Barisan Nasional.
“Even in areas that STAR does not plan to contest, the election machinery in those areas will ensure that support for STAR will be given to the united opposition.
“The party has also signed the Integrity Pledge with Transparency International – Malaysia, and announcements will be made soon on the seats the party plans to contest” added Dr. Jeffrey.
Meanwhile, Sabah STAR views the recent statement by the Land and Survey Director that NCR does not exist after the enforcement of the Sabah Land Ordinance, 1930 to be a mere echo of a previous statement by the State Attorney-General.
He said many lands have been alienated to companies in the tens of thousands of hectares while land applications of natives of 10 or 15 acres are not processed for many years, which caused widespread misery and injustice to the local natives, from Pitas to Pensiangan and from Sukau and Kalabakan to Sindumin.
“The natives have not only lost their NCR and land rights but also their livelihood to these unscrupulous companies and their inhumane owners. And in many instances, these companies even engaged illegal immigrants and foreign workers to demolish the homes and destroy the crops of these natives and chase them away from their very own land, very often, in full view of and sometimes tacit support of the police and enforcement agencies.
“Despite the many warnings and incidents of violence by these foreigners, it is a matter of time before real bloodshed will happen,” he claimed.
He added that on hindsight, it was not surprising considering that the top four officers in land administration, from the chief executive to the forestry, the land department and the top legal officer in the state are helmed by non-natives.
“To rub salt into the wound, a KDM is only deemed fit to look after animals and wildlife. And add on the rumours of people of a certain race waiting in the late afternoons to attend to their land applications in the Land and Survey Department.
“We leave it to the people to judge the matter,” he said.
“It is wrong not to give priority to natives and Sabahans in land alienation. The Director of Land and Survey in January 2012 disclosed that out of 2.1 million hectares of land available for alienation, the state had already alienated about 1.9 million hectares of which only 31 per cent was to natives and the other 69 per cent to others,” he pointed out.
He contended that from the state’s economical point of view, it did not make sense for land to be alienated to outsiders who do not invest their profits derived from Sabah’s land and such profits are then taken to the Peninsula and utilised there to generate further economic growth.
He cited for instance, FELDA had alienated some 306,000 acres of land in Sabah but very little benefit was given to local Sabahans let alone natives.
The government-linked Sime Darby owns a 54,278-hectare plantation in Sabah while two other public-listed companies from the Peninsula own 107,000 hectares and 40,359 hectares in Sabah respectively. These three companies own a total 201,637 hectares excluding Felda’s holding.
“The profits per hectare for the plantations declared by the public companies for 2011 were RM11,075 and RM9,783. Even assuming the lowest of the profits declared, a total profit of RM1.972 billion was derived from Sabah for the 201,637 hectares and this did not even include profits from processing activities.
“If the 201,637 hectares were to be distributed with five hectares to each family, a total of 40,000 families will each enjoy a profit ofRM49,300 per family each year which excludes labour costs. Imagine what economic spin-offs and multiplier effects the profits can generate for the Sabah economy, let alone the eradication of poverty,” he said.