|Suhakam inquiry highlights issues faced by Sabah’s indigenous people|
|Monday, 11 June 2012 08:45am|
©The Star (Used by permission)
by MUGUNTAN VANAR
KOTA KINABALU: Forced land grabs by private companies, inaction of local authorities and bogus kampung are among issues brought before the public hearing on native land rights in its first week here.
Other grievances aired at the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) inquiry include loss of ancestral lands due to re-zoning of forest reserves, water catchments and agricultural purposes.
The hearing is aimed at identifying problems faced by Sabah's indigenous people and formulating strategies to protect their rights.
Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam, in one of his comments at the hearing, said some villages were treated like footballs and were being “kicked” around by government departments.
He added that 600 land applications from two kampung in Keningau were ignored when the village land was gazetted as an area for water catchments.
“The district officer kept a few sacks of land applications that were never opened. It shows the villagers were being treated like a football.
“This matter should have been solved and their coming to Suhakam was a last resort,” he said.
Rungus community leader Jeffry Makap, representing some 2,000 families from 13 kampung in Bengkoka, told the inquiry that state-owned Sabah Forest Development Authority (Safoda) had reneged on its promise to provide housing and 8ha of land per family affected by a forest plantation project.
He claimed that the tree plantation project did not benefit them and their ancestral land had been taken away through “sweet promises”.
Safoda official Asan Beluar, who testified, claimed many bogus villagers were invading the authority's operational areas and claiming the kampung to be their customary land.
“There is a lot of these new villages emerging. Their objective is to get the government to give them land, as if they had been staying in the particular area for generations,” Asan said.
The hearing ends on June 16.
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