Na­tive land is­sue in Sabah State Assem­bly

The Borneo Post (Sabah) - - HOME -

THE Forestry Depart­ment An­nual Re­port 2015 tells us that Sabah land mass is 7.4 mil­lion hectares with a to­tal for­est re­serve of about 3,551,246.78 ha, Parks and wildlife at 274,129 ha and plan­ta­tion for­est at 239,785.75 ha. This for­est cover rep­re­sents about 49% of the to­tal land­mass of Sabah.

Land is and has al­ways been a con­tentious is­sue, es­pe­cially among the Anak Negeri or Na­tives of Sabah and Sarawak.

For the na­tives, there is such thing as Na­tive Cus­tom­ary Re­serve or NCR as per Sec­tion 14 of the Land Or­di­nance (Sabah Chap 68). Sec­tion 15 of the said Or­di­nance gives the def­i­ni­tion of Cus­tom­ary Rights.

In the na­tional bud­get 2016, there is an al­lo­ca­tion for RM20 mil­lion to sur­vey NCR land in Sabah. Af­ter the bud­get was ap­proved, I did speak out in the Sabah State Assem­bly to thank the fed­eral gov­ern­ment for the kind ges­ture.

I then said in the House that the vil­lage chief and JKKK should quickly as­cer­tain all the NCR lands and in­form the Land Of­fice and district of­fi­cer so that the nec­es­sary ad­min­is­tra­tive pro­ce­dures can be ex­e­cuted lead­ing to the sur­vey­ing of the land.

Responding to my ques­tion at the Sabah State Assem­bly, the gov­ern­ment said, in 1988 the gov­ern­ment did es­tab­lish a spe­cial work­ing unit in the Land & Sur­vey Depart­ment to sur­vey and pre­pare ti­tles for NCR claimants.

A form LSF.1898 from the claimant is handed over to the vil­lage chief and en­dorsed by the Col­lec­tor of Land Rev­enue be­fore a sur­vey can be done.

How­ever, this pol­icy was halted in 1997 and all NCR claimants were pro­cessed through land hear­ing. The gov­ern­ment has now set up a mo­bile NCR land ser­vice or PANTAS.

Of late, the gov­ern­ment has been us­ing Sec­tion 76 to is­sue com­mu­nal ti­tles with an aim of en­sur­ing com­mon use, ben­e­fit to the na­tives and with­out any power of sales.

How­ever, Sec­tion 77 al­lows the sub-divi­sion of com­mu­nal ti­tles, and this is what the gov­ern­ment is us­ing to open up the land through joint ven­tures. The gov­ern­ment has, how­ever, de­clared that ben­e­fi­cia­ries are free to de­velop the al­lot­ted land with­out a joint ven­ture.

The com­mu­nal land is rapidly pro­cessed through the so-called “Fast Track Planned Land Alien­ation” (FTPLA) and to also re­solve is­sues re­lated to the said land.

FTPLA there­fore re­solves the de­lay in is­suance of land ti­tles to na­tives who ap­plied di­rectly un­der the di­rect land alien­ation.

It will also re­solve over­lap­ping land ap­pli­ca­tions and en­sure gov­ern­ment lands or lands set­tled by na­tives in the vil­lages are not taken over by un­qual­i­fied per­sons or com­pa­nies.

FTPLA is hop­ing to re­solve all gov­ern­ment land set­tled by na­tives or claimants to NCR which did not go through the land hear­ing process.

Fi­nally, FTPLA hopes to re­solve the sticky is­sue of land be­ing sold by na­tives as they like.

The gov­ern­ment ac­knowl­edges that there is dis­sat­is­fac­tion reg­is­tered on the com­mu­nal ti­tles. The main com­plaint comes from peo­ple out­side the area who have ap­plied for the land whereby their land ap­pli­ca­tions are can­celled.

There are com­plaints of ben­e­fi­cia­ries who are reg­is­tered but are not qual­i­fied. There is is­sue with ben­e­fi­cia­ries who are gov­ern­ment staff and who must first have an ap­proval from their heads of depart­ment.

The other com­plaint comes from the peo­ple out­side the area who have set­tled in the area un­der the Mi­nor Set­tle­ment Scheme and where a com­mu­nal ti­tle has been is­sued.

These na­tive out­siders are al­lowed to work on the land through a mi­nor lease on the com­mu­nal land for 30 years and any ex­ten­sion de­pends on the mu­tual agree­ment be­tween the out­siders and ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

The other com­plaint re­ceived is when qual­i­fied per­sons are not listed or reg­is­tered by the vil­lage chief or chair­man of JKKK as ben­e­fi­ciary.

My ques­tion on 26 Novem­ber 2015 again re­lates to NCR land. The gov­ern­ment in­formed me that a to­tal of 44,955 ti­tles as TL (Tem­po­rary Lease), PL (Per­ma­nent Lease), NT (Na­tive Ti­tle) and FR (Field Regis­ter) cov­er­ing 212,054.00 hectares have been is­sued out in the In­te­rior in­volv­ing the district of Keningau, Tam­bunan, Nabawan and Tenom.

Out of this, a to­tal of 739 ti­tles cov­er­ing 56.269 hectares are TL which is the town area. The CL (Coun­try Lease) to­taled 44,216 ti­tles cov­er­ing 211,997.73 hectares.

There are 46 com­mu­nal ti­tles cov­er­ing 71,109 hectares in­volv­ing 5,302 ben­e­fi­cia­ries. A to­tal of 11,152 acres un­der TL, PL, CL, NT and FR in Keningau, Tam­bunan, Nabawan and Tenom have been sur­veyed and in the process of pre­par­ing the draft ti­tles.

As of Novem­ber 2015, a to­tal of 17 com­mu­nal ti­tles cov­er­ing an area of 36,835.37 acres in­volv­ing 4,300 ben­e­fi­cia­ries have been de­vel­oped though joint ven­tures with gov­ern­ment-linked com­pa­nies and pri­vate com­pa­nies.

There is an­other way of giv­ing land to the na­tives, namely, through na­tive re­serves.

Sec­tion 78 dis­cuss about the estab­lish­ment of Na­tive Re­serves. The Yang DiPer­tua Negeri must ap­prove their estab­lish­ment to pro­tect the present and fu­ture in­ter­ests and well-be­ing of the na­tives of Sabah.

The TYT will sanc­tion the alien­ation to the na­tives to pro­vide land for fu­ture cul­ti­va­tion.

The is­suance of com­mu­nal land and the hand­ing over of the ti­tles to the ben­e­fi­cia­ries have not gone un­no­ticed.

It is not sur­pris­ing to see the Chief Min­is­ter in re­mote parts of the coun­try to hand over the ti­tles.

One can say it is a po­lit­i­cal ges­ture, but as the gov­ern­ment of the day hav­ing seen to de­liver on their prom­ise to give land to the na­tives it is ba­si­cally an­other case of ful­fill­ment of a prom­ise.

Only time will tell us if the is­suance of the com­mu­nal ti­tles is the best de­ci­sion made by the gov­ern­ment of the day.

We still hear the so-called ‘land grab’ and the na­tives be­ing pushed out of the land that the author­ity in­sist is en­croached.

I am still sad­dened by what had hap­pen to the na­tives at Kg Bo­to­tong Telupid where their houses were de­stroyed by chain­saws.

We will con­tinue to hear of vast tracts of land ap­plied by com­pa­nies which im­pacted on the na­tives and elicited protests, in­clud­ing le­gal ac­tions in­di­cat­ing that the land is­sue is and will al­ways be con­tentious.

Deputy Speaker Datuk John­son Tee (left) and wife af­ter the open­ing of the Sabah Assem­bly by the Head of State.

Email: ej­bosi@gmail.com

By Dr Ed­win Bosi

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