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Protect Natives Rights, Stop Eviction and Destruction of Ulu Sugut Villages

Kota Kinabalu: “The Sabah government should protect native rights to native customary lands and stop the eviction and destruction of the village lands, plants and crops in the 3 villages of Kg. Malinsau, Kg. Wayan and Kg. Sinurai in Ulu Sugut, Ranau” said Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, STAR Sabah Chief voicing out his concerns on the reported destruction of the village lands and crops by the purported registered landowner with more than 100 alleged foreigners which started on Thursday.

It is inscribed in the Batu Sumpah monument that the lands in Sabah is controlled by the Sabah government and that the Malaysian government will respect and safeguard the Sabah native customs, adat and traditions.

The various land grabs and eviction of native customary lands and destruction of their crops and plants only go to confirm that the Sabah government has failed to fulfil the wishes of the natives. To the natives “land is life” and the Sabah government should safeguard Sabah lands for Sabahans especially natives and the Sabah Land Ordinance provides for such native customary rights (NCR).

The native customary rights of indigenous people are recognized and are to be protected and have been universally adopted of late by many countries under the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous People.

The Sabah government need to prove that the policy that native land rights are safeguarded with a change of government policy and implementation.

Where are the 4 elected BN representatives which included federal and State Ministers in the hour of need of the native villagers?

It is pointless and meaningless for the Sabah government to expect the natives to fight for their rights in Court when by a stroke of the pen the Sabah can easily protect and prevent native lands from falling into the hands of non-Sabahans and non-natives.

The Sabah government should review all alienated lands especially to companies which are being disputed by natives and to revoke such alienations and to re-alienate such lands to the rightful natives which have been recognized since the British colonial times.

For the Ulu Sugut lands, the Sabah government should consider replacing the alienated land which are occupied by the native inhabitants and now being forcibly evicted by the company landowner. The company can be given alternative lands in other areas and the natives can be allowed to continue with their daily lives on their existing plots of land.

Similar action should also be taken by the Sabah government to return the native lands in Tongod to the Dusun Mangkak community there.

It was reported that more than 100 foreigners were brought into the disputed land to assist in the destruction of the native lands. The Sabah government need to step in and stop the eviction and destruction before any violence and bloodshed starts. If any native blood is spilled, it will be the result of the non-action and failure of the Sabah government to protect them and their native lands and the blood will be on the hands of the Sabah BN leaders.

If the Sabah government fail to safeguard native land rights, the natives will find themselves to be squatters in their own land, as is happening now throughout Sabah.

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