" At the Malaysia Day gathering in Tongod, the villagers had highlighted their plight of having confirmed NCR in the early 1990s and their land applications surveyed and approved and included in the Tongod Regional Planning Study but in the late 1990s their approvals were withdrawn and the very same land of more than 20,000 and 25,000 acres were alienated to 2 companies respectively. It was discovered that some of the directors in one of the companies are present-day senior political leaders in UMNO and UPKO and the irony is that Tongod is a BN and UPKO stronghold.The approved companies were specifically imposed with conditions to survey and omit all roads, “kampung areas”, schools, churches, burial grounds and all lands worked on and planted by the villagers” since the 1970s. This condition was not complied with andt the very rubber and fruit trees planted by the villagers were mischievously bulldozed by the companies. This breach even prompted the then State Assemblyman to write to the then Chief Minister to revoke the alienation approval or to postpone the alienation of the land titles to the companies concerned but to no avail.
Today, the affected villagers in Tongod involving more than 5 villages and some 500 families are “squatters” in their very own land which they and their ancestors have toiled even before the formation of Malaysia in 1963. The natives are entitled to their native lands and NCR long before the existence of the Land Ordinance but the present State Government and their leaders are deaf and blind to the plight of the villagers in Tongod.
It makes no sense for the Government to alienate native lands and extinguish the rights of the natives to NCR by alienating native lands to companies and not to natives. Even Yayasan Melaka and Yayasan Selangor, both Government agencies from West Malaysia, are alienated large tracts of land in Sabah. And these 2 cases are known, what about the unknowns? ../2- On another case, the so-called “solution” to the land-grab in Kota Marudu is not in the best interests of the local villagers who have worked on the native lands for generations and then find their crops and buildings bulldozed and the very land alienated to companies with one companies being alienated 40,000 hectares affecting some 30 villages and even the State Agency, SAFODA, being alienated 4,793.9 hectares affecting some 18 villages.
Dr. Jeffrey asked “Why restrict the natives to per family of 15 acres of communal titled land and 5 acres of land declared as village reserve land when they are entitled to the full rights to the native lands and attached NCR?” The subsequent “award” or settlement of the 20-acres plot for the entitled families will forever extinguish the NCR from the balance of the 44,793.9 hectares of “State lands” that are now alienated to the company and SAFODA.
Dr. Jeffrey further added “Why must SAFODA compete with the villagers and deprive the natives from their native lands and NCR?” and “Why is SAFODA and the State Government not supporting the natives and their rights to the native lands and NCR?”
“What happened to the promises carved into the “Batu Sumpah” in Keningau” where the native lands and native rights need to be honoured?” Dr. Jeffrey further asked.
As the State Government and the State leaders have done little to protect the legitimate rights and hopes of the natives with regards to the native lands and NCR, UBF have no alternative but to form the “Native Lands and NCR Panel” to render whatever assistance including taking the State Government to Court to assist the plight of the natives who are being deprived of their native lands throughout Sabah.
UBF have received complaints of many cases and will first look into the land cases in Tongod, Bingkor, Kota Marudu, Kunak and Pensiangan and take the necessary legal action in due course on behalf of the affected natives.
Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan further calls for volunteers and any interested person or persons to join and render assistance in the “Native Lands and NCR Panel” and to support fellow native Sabahans. All volunteers and interested persons can email their interest to firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone at 088-282108 and 016-8244250.