KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s move to issue communal land titles to resolve ownership woes among the indigenous people has paid off.

It has ensured that they receive the land they had cultivated or lived in for generations, said state Land and Survey Department deputy director Lee Chung Khiong.

“From our standpoint, issuing the titles speeds up our work because one communal title would cover a large area but owned by hundreds of individuals,” he said at the start of a two-week Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) public inquiry on native land rights issues here yesterday.

Citing an example, Lee said the issuance of a communal title in the east coast Tongod district had enabled 1,022 people to gain ownership of 10,000ha of land.

“It is also a way to ensure that land owned by the natives could not be sold off,” he said.

Sabah is the first state in Malaysia to grant communal land titles instead of individual ones to ensure recipients, particularly the rural folk, benefit from land use.

Introduced in May 2010, the concept allows the state to jointly develop such land with the people.

In the past, many who received individual titles sold them almost immediately for quick profits.

Lee said there had been many such cases. “We know this had been happening because the people chasing for land titles are not the applicants, but the buyers.

“So, the selling and buying of land is already at the application stage,” he said.

Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam is chairing the inquiry sitting, which also comprises commissioners Jannie Lasimbang and Shaani Abdullah.

Also present was independent consultant Tan Sri Simon Sipaun, a former Suhakam vice-chairman.

via Communal land titles beneficial – Nation | The Star Online.