KUDAT: The residents of Kampung Barambangon here celebrated the declaration of 398 acres in the area as a native customary (NCR) land by the Land and Survey Department.
Member of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Sabah presidential council Kong Hong Ming, who acted as a lawyer for the villagers, said it was a victory for the 48 Rungus households who inherited the land from their forefathers.
He said sometime in 2008, the State Government planned to implement a social economic project on the 398-acre land but it strongly opposed by the villagers.
“In an appeal against the decision of the Kudat Assistant Collector of Land Revenue (ACLR) in dismissing the residents’ NCR claim over the land, the Director of Lands and Surveys allowed the appeal and agreed that the villagers are entitled to NCR,” said Kong in a statement yesterday.
Kong said the 398 acres of land have been continually occupied by the residents who inherited the land from their forefathers and planted it with rubber trees since the early sixties.
“Nowadays, for whatever reason and purpose, even State and Federal Government linked companies and agencies are in pursuit of land ownership in stiff competition with the natives. In the case of FELDA, being one of the biggest landowners in Sabah, it is akin to creating a federal territory within the State of Sabah indirectly.
“Every collective effort and inclusive support is needed to protect, preserve and legitimise the existing and shrinking ancestral land inherited by the natives on the foundation of NCR,” he said.
Kong, who heads the PKR Tawau division, pointed out that the NCR is the core of fundamental liberty and basic human right and perhaps the last hope to alleviate the suffering of the indigenous people from poverty, mainly due to mismanagement and abuses of the State resources.
In the present scenario, according to him, the future is not promising for the native communities in the rural areas unless there is a genuine reform to resolve the land issues in Sabah.
During the ceremony, Kong who also is a former assemblyman for Kudat, officiated at the ground breaking of a two-are site of public park and open space called Taman Orang Asal Barambangon. The plot is by the beneficiaries of the 398 acres customary land.
Several activists led by Anne Lasimbang and Galus Ahtoi from PACOS as well as the local community leaders also attended the ceremony that was held at the longhouse in the village.
“This ceremony is historical in NCR being a symbol of another success struggle of the land right of the indigenous people.
“I still believe that with proper and efficient management of the land resources for the rural folks, no person including the natives shall be poor in Sabah considering that five acres of rubber or 15 acres of oil palm could now provide reasonably good and regular income per family.
“However, even though there is enough for every man’s needs, there is never enough for one man’s greed, as the saying goes,” he said.
Kong congratulated the 48 families in the village who regained ownership of 398 acres of customary land that was targeted by the State Government for a social economic project known as MESEJ.
“The entire native community unanimously objected to the project because they had already occupied and planted the customary land with rubber trees since the early sixties. This is a classical example that the native community was capable of managing their communal land,” he said.
Kong said the 48 families had subsequently divided the land amongst themselves amicably into 48 lots of about eight acres per lot planted with crops of economical value.
“This is the true spirit and intent of communal land ownership or communal title envisaged under the Land Ordinance.
“However, the indigenous communities in Sabah are becoming skeptical of the underlining purpose of the recent issuance of communal titles by the BN State Government which was somehow associated with joint venture land development schemes,” he added.