Teck Lee pledges to return NCR land to the people

By Queville To, Free Malaysia Today

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) has promised to return all native customary rights (NCR) lands given to private companies back to the people, when it comes to power. SAPP chief Yong Teck Lee made the pledge when speaking at the breaking of the fast ceremony at Kampung Cenderamata II near here over the weekend.

The former Sabah chief minister said he was both distressed and worried by the many incidents of lands that belonged to the people being taken away and given to big companies.

He described a recent incident where about 160 houses that belonged to natives in Kota Marudu were bulldozed with their crops destroyed as “stunning.”

“Where are the elected representatives of the area? Where are the leaders, ministers and the chief minister? How could this happen in Sabah?” he asked, adding that in many similar cases the houses that were demolished were not built on squatter settlements but on NCR land.

He recalled that when he was the chief minister, the state government had allowed the squatter settlement of Kampung Cenderamata II to be rebuilt after a fire almost wiped it out and lots given to the resident to build new homes.

“We set aside a plot of land to build a surau and allocated lots for the people, not so big but enough for them to live comfortably. Now with the cooperation from all the residents, this village has expanded,” he said.

He further noted that despite the fact that the residents come from different places like Kampung Likas, Petagas, Kota Belud and Bongawan, they nonetheless decided to cooperate with one another irrespective of race and origin.

Kampung Cenderamata II has since been gazetted as a village reserve and protected under the law.

“So this is the SAPP spirit,” he said and contrasted it with other squatter settlements in Sabah such as in Gum-Gum, Sandakan, Sungai Burung, Lahad Datu, Serudong, Tawau and several other places for instance, where the residents were evicted by the Barisan Nasional government administration after similar calamities.

“They were evicted not to clear the area to build a school, mosque, hospital or roads but so that they can give the priceless vacant land to big companies,” he said.