Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Sabah senior politician, cop behind land-grab?


With the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) and Public Complaints Bureau intensifying its probe into allegations of a RM4O million land- grab in Kunak, Sabah, two major “players” in the racket might come under scrutiny for alleged abuse of power. One is believed to be a senior politician in Sabah, the other is a high-ranking official in the police force. The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Bernard Dompok on Sunday instructed the Public Complaints Bureau to immediately investigate allegations of power abuse by senior police officers in the land- grab issue. Bernama learnt that the politician is among several which the Sabah ACA would call to facilitate investigations into the racket involving over 787 hectares of oil palm plantation in Kampung Tingkayu. Sabah ACA Director Latifah Md Yatim declined to comment on the two “masterminds” as investigations were underway. “Let the ACA conduct its probe. We will surely inform the media on the latest development (of the case). My officers are gathering the relevant information and documents pertaining to the case,” she told Bernama yesterday. The politician, in his 60’s, is believed to have obtained a percentage of shares and money from a real estate company which allegedly seized the land belonging to 171 smallholders. Bernama understands that the politician had instructed some senior officers from the Sabah Land and Survey Department not to entertain the smallholders who had urged the department to investigate the ownership of the seized land. A team of Sabah ACA investigating officers will visit Kampung Tingkayu to gather vital evidence and interview the smallholders. One of the affected smallholders, who wished to be known as Chong, 50, told Bernama that the politician refused to attend to the plight of smallholders who had been harassed by illegal immigrants on their plantations. “Last month, we submitted an official complaint letter to the politician at his office on the activities of the illegal immigrants, but unfortunately he told us not to waste our time. “We have all the evidence on this matter and we are ready to cooperate with the authorities,” he said. In April this year, Bernama reported atop-ranking senior law enforcement officer, holding the title of ‘Datuk’, and several police officers in Kunak are being investigated by Sabah Anti-Corruption Agency for allegedly offering “protection services” to a real estate company which allegedly seized 787 hectares (about 4,000 acres) of oil palm plantations belonging to smallholders, In exchange for their “services”, the company, which is also involved in money lending, was reported to have given the officers kickbacks and other benefits, including offering its company’s shares. Bernama also reported that the company concerned had employed more than 100 illegal immigrants to seize the land worth about RM40 million and that more then 40 police reports were lodged between January and March this year at the Kunak police station, but no action was taken. - Bernama