Source: The Daily Express

Thursday, November 13, 2014

THE rights of the natives with regards to the lands in the State have always been protected and prioritised by the Government.

“Since I became Chief Minister, I have never approved land applications from any companies that came from outside of Sabah. Never. You can check that with the Land and Survey Department. Because I know that lands belong to the natives,” said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman during question time at the State Assembly, here, Wednesday.

Responding to Tamparuli Assemblyman Datuk Wilfred Bumburing, Musa said the Government has the right to approve land applications from individuals, companies or organisations registered in the country but priority would always be given to State agencies, individuals and Sabah-based companies.

However, he said the Government also has a policy of giving higher priority to the natives who occupied and developed government lands and would remove those lands from approved titles given to individuals, companies or government agencies.

Musa added that the Government had given a total of 1,014,959.26 acres or 46 per cent of its land to the natives.

“However, when we listen to the opposition, it is as if the Government never cared about the people, and that the Government had no interest in the rights of the natives,” he said.

Towards this end, he pointed out that the Government had introduced the communal title policy in order to protect the natives.

“We want to stop them from selling their lands. They keep selling their lands. After they finished selling the lands, they blamed the Government. Various NGOs will surface…Pacos and others.

“They mislead and confuse the people as if the Government is cruel, the Government does not want to give them lands when the Government had already given a million acres.

“I do not blame the natives for selling their lands. But, if possible, we want to help them, give them the proper support so they don’t keep selling their properties because once they lose everything, what would happen to their children?” he said.

The communal title, he added, has five objectives, including protecting the rights of the natives on government lands in their villages, speeding up the process of granting collective NT titles to the natives, solving the issue of NCR claim without going through land investigation process, solving the issue of overlapping land applications and preventing the natives from selling their lands.

Musa said the Federal Government recently had allocated RM21.5 million for a communal grant community in Nabawan that has 264 beneficiaries on 3,000 acres of land and RM34.1 million for another community in Tenom that has 601 beneficiaries on 6,303 acres of land for infrastructure development purposes.

“The Government realised that the people do not have enough capital and, therefore, we had requested from the Finance Ministry that funds be made available for development such as electricity, water and road.

“The Government would also hold a discussion with beneficiaries on whether they would want to do a joint venture by planting rubber trees or oil palm, depending on the suitability of the lands.

“Most importantly, we want to tell them, don’t worry because the land will always be theirs,” he said.

Musa also agreed with the suggestion by Bumburing who proposed that the Land and Survey Department be divided into two departments, one for land development and the other for land survey, and said that it was a logical solution to the problem of late application processing.

He said currently, the Government has a policy called Sabah Natives Land Service (Pantas) to speed up the process of churning out land titles to the natives.

“Under this policy, we would survey the existing lands, those already occupied by Bumiputeras for more than three years. If the land belongs to the State, then it’s ok.

“We would survey and give the titles to them straightaway. We have already done this in Tagarasa, Kiulu and Long Pasia.

“I would like to thank the Federal Government in this regard for giving us allocations to pay for the survey costs,” he said.

MY SAY: can we have the statistics of Native Selling Lands?