KOTA KINABALU, March 24 — A glimmer of hope is in sight for the villagers of Tongod who are on the brink of losing their homes and land deep in the interior of Sabah to the state.
A preliminary report by the Malaysian Commission of Human Rights (Suhakam) found the villagers had filed Land Applications (LA) dating back to 1984, which proved their decades-long occupancy of Tongod, contrary to a recent assertion by the Sabah Forestry Department that non-natives had encroached upon the land in the 1990s for personal gain.
“According to the villagers, as an indigenous people of Tongod, they applied for a Land Application (LA) back in 1984,” said the report.
However, the resolution may not be as clear-cut. The report also noted that Suhakam was informed by the villagers that the Forestry Department does not recognise their LAs. The villagers were also accused of “having a Land Application that is not genuine”.
A standoff is imminent as Sabah Forestry officials have threatened to dismantle the homes of the villagers of Kampung Bobotong within the Sungai Pinangah Forest Reserve. The villagers have refused to budge, claiming they were the first to occupy the land, and have native rights. Read more