‘Why give out land titles now?

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s political temperature seems to be rising even before the announcement of the date for the 16th state elections tomorrow.

With caretaker Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal crisscrossing the state to hand out the promised native land titles to the villages, his opponents struck back, questioning its timing.

While the move to distribute native land titles before an election date is set is not construed as an election offence, Warisan Plus and its opponents are beginning to bicker over the issue.

In east coast Beluran district yesterday, Shafie asked his opponents to probe the distribution of native land titles to people in Kiulu by former chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman during the May 2018 general election.

“Before Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) asks for an investigation into Warisan Plus for allegedly breaching election regulations, it is better for PBS to find out if the act of distributing land titles in Kiulu sub-district in Tuaran was right.”

“If they can give out, why can’t we? This is a responsibility of the government, but they want to call it a bribe, ” he said when giving out native land titles to villages in Beluran, about 300km from the state capital.

“We have been giving land titles since last year. It was our promise to the people who applied for their traditional land for decades and was never entertained by past governments, ” he said in reference to PBS secretary-general Datuk Jahid Jahim’s call for the Election Commission to investigate the native land title distribution.

Sabah Bersatu chairman Datuk Seri Hajiji Mohd Noor said yesterday that the Parti Warisan Sabah president was not being truthful about the native land titles that he was distributing across the state.

“It is clear that he (Shafie) is fishing for votes and people’s support, ” Hajiji alleged.

He claimed that the land native grants distributed by Shafie were actually the work of the previous state government under Sabah Barisan Nasional through the Pengukuran Hak Tanah Adat Negeri Sabah (Sabah Native Land Survey Project) programme that was known as Pantas.

Hajiji, who was a state minister under the Sabah Barisan government, said the Pantas programme was introduced in 2011 because of the delays to resolve land applications by the natives.

“Most of these land titles were already prepared by the previous government but were unable to be distributed on time, ” he said.

Native land issues were among the issues used by Warisan in the last elections that saw the party and its partners oust Sabah Barisan led by Tan Sri Musa Aman.

Hajiji said that Warisan Plus was desperate and rushing to give out the titles as they were trying to fish for votes ahead of the elections.

“Why wasn’t it done before the July 30 dissolution of assembly. Why now?” Hajiji asked.

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