Kota Kinabalu: Forest reserve areas that have been declassified as state land are meant for Communal Titles, including future development, for the benefit to the rakyat, according to State Lands and Survey Department Director Datuk Osman Jamal.

“The Government made a clear stand that any application whether by an individual or company for the said land will not be entertained,” said Osman. He was responding to a claim by villagers at Karamatoi Tengah and Angkawangan in Sook, Keninagu, that 560 acres of state land which they had supposedly applied for had been approved to a company.

Osman said he aware of the land in question and that the area was a forest reserve before being declassified as state land in December 2010.

On July 18, a group villagers from Sook claimed “a private company suddenly appeared showing their right to the said land”.

However, Osman assured that land in question would not be lost to any individual applicant as the Government had earmarked it for communal titles to be given to the villagers who had established their village there.

He said the Lands and Survey office in Keningau was tasked to investigate the claim by the villagers and found that a makeshift shelter was built by an unidentified person on the said land which was later found to belong to the worker of a company.

Osman said the company did submit an application immediately after the land was declassified as state land in 2010 but that no approval was given and neither would it be approved.

“I understand the feelings of the villagers,” said Osman, who said the presence of a makeshift shelter there may have misled them into thinking that someone had obtained the land.

Osman said a meeting was held between the Kenigau Land District Surveyor, Keningau Land Office, villagers who applied for the land and the company, where it was established that the company had violated the land ordinance by entering the land without permission and warned to stop.

“The company has obliged,” he said.

On the complaint by another villager who not selected as recipient of communal tile, Osman said the list of would-be recipients was screened by a committee comprising a District Officer, Village Heads (Ketua Kampung), District Chief, Native Chief and Assemblymen or his representative.

“The village chief, district chief and native chief head will identify whether the applicant is residing in that particular village,” said Osman adding that at times the screening committee has to stay up to 3am when it involved a few villages.

He stressed its not for the Land and Survey to determine who would be included in the communal title list but by the village head endorsed by District Chief and Native Chief.

The criteria for communal title is that the applicant must be a resident at the particular village, above 18 and married. He there were occasions when a villager was found to be from another village and thus their applications for CTs were rejected.

Osman said surveying has been completed for 18 villagers in Sook and the Department is in the process in preparing draft titles.

However, in the case of Kg Karamatoi Tengah, they refuse to be surveyed and insisted they apply and be given 2,000 acres as “their ancestors had been living in the area.”

via These lands meant for Communal Titles, says Dept | Daily Express Newspaper Online, Sabah, Malaysia..