Reports of evicted SFI workers false, says Sabah Land Dept Director

KOTA KINABALU: Claims by media portals that Sabah Forest Industries Sdn Bhd (SFI) workers are being evicted by the state government are completely false and without basis, says Sabah Lands and Surveys director Bernard Liew Chau Min.

He said following the state government’s acquisition of the company's alienated land, it is standard procedure for the Sabah Government to deliver to SFI the government’s notice of acquisition as well as to take possession and control over the acquired land.

Liew explained SFI’s workers and general staff who were currently living on premises following the state government’s acquisition, could remain where they were and they would be eventually re-employed - if they so wished - under the Sabah Government’s sustainable forest timber development scheme.

"Upon the second publication of the Gazette under Section 3 of the Land Acquisition Ordinance, Cap 69, the affected landowners or any interested parties are notified and served notice of the acquisition.

"The buildings and structures thereon shall, free of any encumbrances vest in the government and shall be deemed to have been surrendered by the lawful owner or legal interest thereof. Therefore, vacant possession is deemed to have been delivered to the state government,” he said in a statement today.

He said the issue of workers’ outstanding salaries would also be addressed and resolved fairly and equitably in a manner that reflected SFI’s employees’ valuable skills and contribution to the state’s economy.

On Sept 14, an opposition leader claimed that following a land acquisition notice issued by the Sabah Land and Survey Department to SFI on Sept 5, workers and local residents had to vacate their homes, causing them to lose their main source of income.

On Saturday (Sept 24) a media portal claimed that some 600 laid-off SFI employees would have to vacate their quarters at the former paper mill and estate by the end of next month (October) following the state’s move to take back the land. - Bernama

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