Kota Kinabalu: Suhakam’s justification to excise 1,000 hectares of Kg Bobotong for squatters who are battling eviction on grounds that they had settled there by 1979 before it was gazetted as a forest reserve is based on a serious historical blunder, said Datuk Sam Mannan.
“The fact is Sungai Pinangah Forest Reserve was gazetted on Dec 4, 1965 under the Forest Ordinance Cap 169 and this includes the Sungai Bobotong portion,” said the Conservator of Forest Sabah, in a statement, Saturday.
“And so believing in an unverified story as Suhakam Sabah Office Case Investigation Officer cum Assistant Secretary Helflin Dino did on village JKKK Chairman Jimmy Iban, who told him that he and fellow villagers’ parents first settled in the area in 1979 when it was not yet gazetted as a forest reserve, is clearly false,” Mannan said “The truth is that the encroachers came in the late 1980s/early 1990s, knowing full well of its status.
The land was already forest reserve long before the encroachment,” Mannan pointed out.
On Helflin’s proposal to review land laws and policies by incorporating human rights to address the problems faced by indigenous peoples on land claims after his ground investigation at Kg Bobotong where he said 16 out of 60 village structures were demolished on the basis of squatting on a gazette forest reserve, Mannan said: “The buildings demolished were assessed first on the basis of occupancy and dwellers being there. Read more