Sook villagers claim losing land to private firm
by Johan Aziz. Posted on July 18, 2012, Wednesday
KENINGAU: More than 500 people from a village in Sook claimed that they are in danger of losing their land to a private firm.
The villagers in Karamotoi Tengah/Angkawangan are also disappointed that their efforts for decades to apply for the title and native rights to the land were never approved, and now a private company appeared to have its rights to the land.
Rauni Gambar, 52, said residents in the area had already occupied the village in the 1930′s, where Malaysia was not even established.
“This area has been explored by our ancestors in the past dozen years but the land department had never informed us that this area was included as a forest reserve area in 1986 until one of us was arrested by the Forestry Department in 2009,” he told the media here yesterday.
Anap Manggis, 70, said on October 13, 2009, a villager who has a rubber plantation in the area, was arrested by the Forestry Department and was charged in the Keningau Magistrate’s Court.
“While we appealed to Sook elected representative Datuk Ellron Angin to intervene, action continued with charges of trespassing,” he said.
Another resident, Malik Muning, 48, said at one time a communal title for 560 acres was approved for the people here, but when more than 200 eligible people applied, approval was limited to 80 people only.
“We were also disappointed that about 40 names approved by the department concerned for the communal title were outsiders and not from this area,” he said.
Neculis Tuanis, 44, said since the 1970s and 1980s, residents in Karamatoi Tengah/Angkawangan, Sook had not stopped submitting applications for the land title and claims to native land rights to the land but the answers had always been ‘dukacita.’
“However, what is more disappointing is that recently we saw the land was cleared and planted with boundary stones,” he said.
Another resident, Utu @ Genisus Juanis, 41, claimed that he, along with some villagers, had also discovered a tent by the roadside near the village which is said to be forest reserve.
“When we approached the tent, there was an individual in it who said he was only instructed to take care of the tent,” he said.
Adan @ Madan Angilir, 38, said it appeared that a private company would enter the area to plant rubber or oil palm.
“Following this incident on July 12 , we, the original residents of this area, have reported the matter to the police and the land department,” he said.
The villagers expect the authorities to recognise their rights as natives and allowed to remain in the area.