KOTA KINABALU: The burning of houses belonging to 20 families on state forest land in Kampung Paitan is an inhumane act, Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah president Tan Sri Joseph Kurup told the state assembly.
He said the action by Forestry Department officials in September should be condemned and not condoned.
They (the families) were treated worse than illegal immigrants, he said, adding that the rights of the indigenous people were being trampled on.
He said although the department has the right to act against dwellers on state land, there was no law to say the officers could burn down houses and destroy rubber trees planted by the villagers.
Burning of homes is taboo in our Kadazandusun and Murut tradition, he said, adding that the affected families had lived in the Paitan area for over 20 years.
He said they had settled in the area following the opening of land by logging companies in 1984.
The movement of Kadazandusun and Murut people from one place to another in search of food is a generation-old practice, he said.
They do not know whether the land is government land or otherwise, he said when debating the RM1.9bil state budget for 2007.
The budget sees a special allocation of RM500,000 for each state assemblyman to implement projects particularly poverty eradication.
In addition, each Sabah assemblyman would also be allocated another RM50,000 aimed at assisting the poor.
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