Angry natives give BTN boss an earful

Biro Tata Negara director Ibrahim Saad was taken aback when he visited villagers in Tandek, Sabah, on a fact-finding trip recently.

(Free Malaysia Today) – KOTA MARUDU (Sabah): The director of the Biro Tata Negara (National Civics Bureau), Ibrahim Saad, was taken aback when he heard the grouses of the people in Tandek here last Thursday.

In a meeting with the residents there, Ibrahim was jolted when he heard stories of the systematic land grabs, government lies about MyKad and the illegal immigrants, and the long delay in processing the natives’ applications for land titles.

Ibrahim went to the ground to feel the pulse of the people – and got a earful for his pains. Now residents here are wondering whether Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak will get an unvarnished report from Ibrahim about his “bruising encounter” with the villagers here.

Ibrahim, who has served in the BTN as the federal government’s “eyes and ears” for 10 years, appeared shocked as he listened to about a dozen elders, including women – who took to the microphone in the new Tandek Hall here – tell sad stories of their long suffering.

As the villagers recounted their tales of woe, Ibrahim was seen assiduously taking down notes.

One resident said about 50 kampungs in Tandek are being threatened with eviction by a company that has been allotted 65,000 hectares of fertile land stretching from Beluran to the edge of Pitas and Kota Marudu.

One headman, KK Bandawa Sandigan, from Kampung Malangkap, Marak-Parak, said land applications by the natives dating as far back as 1973 were never processed, while similar application by a company was approved in “lightning” speed allegedly during Yong Teck Lee’s tenure as chief minister.

“Please do something about this. If our applications are not in order, please tell us so, guide us, don’t simply put our applications away.

“We have rights here,” said Sandigan.

Double standard on increments

An elderly resident questioned the 1Malaysia slogan – People First, Performance Now – saying it is “hollow and insincere”.

Yet another elder took Najib and the government to task for leaving Sabah out when announcing the the 2010 increments in allowances for ketua kampung (village headman) and Village Security and Development Committee (JKKK) chairman.

“While our counterparts from the Peninsula now enjoy a RM800 monthly allowance, in Sabah the JKKK chairman and ketua kampung are still receiving their old allowances (RM250 and RM400 respectively). Where is 1Malaysia?” he asked.

A woman leader from another village near Tandek told Ibrahim that it was very hard for her to go around explaining government policies when the only topic of interest to the villagers was the land grabs.

“There is no point (explaining government policies). We want developments but very little is coming while our lands are being threatened by big companies,” she said.

Another activist from Tangkarason, Jaipin Mohigal, told how 32 houses were razed to the ground in Kampung Koiboton, Tangkarason, in 2006, as the Sabah forestry officers tried to chase them out of their NCR (native customary right) land.

“Something must be done to solve these serious land grab issues in Tandek before it gets out of control…” he said.