Jeffrey: Sabah has failed natives

By Queville To, Free Malaysia Today

KOTA KINABALU: The government of Chief Minister Musa Aman must explain why it has failed to act as the legal guardian of the native people it represents.

Seeking an explaination, United Borneo Front (UBF) chairman Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said the government’s attitude was perplexing especially since it was agreed in 1963 that the natives must be given priority when deciding on the overall development of the state.

Jeffrey, a former PKR vice president, was commenting on the recurring issue of Native Customary Right (NCR) land affecting the natives in the state.

He said there was an urgent need for the state government to review all legislation pertaining to native customary rights (NCR).

“When land applications are given to big companies as opposed to native individuals genuinely seeking a livelihood in agriculture for meagre survival, the people are unable to comprehend the logic behind it.

“Natives must not be left behind and the government must resolve to follow the recommendation of our forefathers that native customary rights to occupy state lands are to be prioritised.

“A corporate body can represent a number of shareholders and directors who are not even remotely native. They apply for their own economic gain.

“The government should deliberate their decisions based on the premise that on Sept 16, 1963, they had assumed a de facto role of becoming the guardian of the native people of Sabah and Sarawak,” said Jeffrey in a statement.

Urgent solution needed

He expressed sympathy for the plight of natives in Kemabong who were jailed and fined in trying to defend their land rights as well as land applications going to corporate bodies in Kampung Luanti and Pitas, which were highlighted in the local newspapers recently.

“We need clearer legislation on NCR to avoid unnecessary confusion and court actions. The government should look into the compliance mechanism for the protection of Native Customary Rights.