Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Important to get any land ownership issues resolved: YIS


Yayasan Islam Sabah (YIS) said it is important that any issues of land ownership in Sabah be resolved once and for all. Its Secretary-General Yahya Ahmad Shah said that land ownership would ensure that future survival for Sabahans, and that it has also been declared that every human being has a right to own land. In this regard, he said YIS praised the move by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, who had directed the Public Complaints Bureau Sunday to immediately investigate allegations of power abuse by senior police officers in the allegedly 787-acre land grab at Kampung Tingkayu in Kunak. “The move is in the right direction, and this may be just the beginning of a disclosure of and investigation into land scandals in Sabah,” he said yesterday. Yahya said that on Feb 26 last year YIS had written to Dompok as Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Integrity requesting that the committee, while investigating into the Sabah smallholders land issue, also look into the issue of the 906,300 acres identified and reserved in 1979 for 60,000 Sabahans. He said the locations of these parcels, of reserved land were properly identified and marked on the map of Sabah. However, it was later revealed by PBRS President Tan Sri Joseph Kurup and reported widely in the local newspapers that most of the land reserved for Sabahans had been alienated to local companies who then sold them to companies from the Peninsular Malaysia. Kurup later claimed that as a result, nearly 90 per cent of the oil palm plantations in Sabah are now owned by Peninsular companies, Yahya recounted. The foundation also reiterates that every Sabahan must be given 15 acres of State land as land ownership is a guarantee to their future wellbeing. “Thus, it is now, before it is too late, that Tan Sri Bernard should direct whatever authorities he deems appropriate to look into the matter of land for landless Sabahans,” Yahya said in a statement. According to him, Dompok is also well aware of the numerous cases in which native smallholders had either sub-leased their land for 99 years which were then incorporated into large plantations. “Therefore, as a matter of urgency, Yayasan Islam supports Tan Sri Bernard’s moves on the Kunak land issue and, at the same time, also to pursue investigations into many other similar cases. “Cases in which’ native smallholders have been subleasing their land indicate that they are poverty-related and, therefore, require an in depth study by the Government how this poverty issue can be confronted and resolved,” he added.