Rural Sabah villagers turn up in KK demanding issuance native land titles

Malaysian International Humanitarian Organization (MHO) representatives handing highlighting the plight of villagers over land issues in three districts to Sabah Lands and Survey Department director Datuk Bernard Liew (right) in Kota Kinabalu.

KOTA KINABALU: More than 1,000 residents from six villages in Sabah's interior Nabawan are claiming their native land titles offered to them have been cancelled by the state government.

Some 200 of the villagers from Sapalut turned up at the state capital to handover their letter to the Lands and Survey Department director Datuk Bernard Liew Tuesday (March 21) asking for answers as to why the native title grants were cancelled by the government.

The Sapulut villagers were also joined by two other village folks from Ranau and Kunak districts also wanting answers as to why their decades old land applications had been denied.

Some of them dressed in traditional costumes walked with banners to the Lands and Survey Department and also danced outside the compound before handing over their letters to Liew who said that he would look into the matter.

According to the Sapulut villagers they had received an offer from the Land and Survey Department (JTU) to make measurements on their land to obtain Native Title grants during the Warisan government rule (2018-2020).

However, they claimed the Native Title grant award offered was cancelled by the Lands and Survey director through a letter dated Aug 12, 2022 under the current Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) led state government.

The current government, in withdrawing the native title issuance, decided to revert back to the contentious communal titles for the villagers.

Malaysian International Humanitarian Organization (MHO) secretary general Datuk Hishamuddin Hashim, whose organisation coordinated the villagers, said the villagers felt persecuted when the Native Grant (NT) that should have been given to them was cancelled without any reason.

He said that the villagers had been living in the area for decades, but still had not received the Native Title grant until today.

The six villages involved were Kampung Koyoon, Kampung Kainggalan, Kampung Tonomon(A)(C), Kampung Kukuamas, Kampung Bigor and Kampung Bukokoh.

He said the villagers want the Native Title grant to enable them to legally own the land they live in without having to worry about their land being confiscated by any party in the future if it was under a communal title.

The Sapulut villagers were also joined by Kg Ulu Madai villagers from east coast Kunak district and Kampung Montoli in Ranau district who also wanted answers from the Lands and Survey Department on their application for land titles applied decades ago.

MHO is helping the villagers by coordinating action to get state government attention on their plight.

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