Suhakam fed with false claims: Dept

Source: Daily Express

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

Why Forestry took drastic actions

Source: Borneo Post

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Forestry Department took drastric actions on the settlers at the Sungai Pinangah Forest Reserve in Tongod district after exhausting all means to bring encroachments under control.

Its director, Datuk Sam Mannan, said yesterday that from the outset, the Forestry Department had directed the settlers to leave the area due to its forest reserve status but this was totally ignored.

“Notices were issued and signboards put up. The Forestry Department did not receive support on its actions at most levels at that time.  If anything, the department was directed to stop its enforcement activities, and to acquiesce,” he said in a statement yesterday following allegation that the  Forestry Department had violated human rights by destroying illegal huts/sulaps inside the forest reserve on March 16.

Mannan disclosed that the forest reserve which is part of the large Sg Pinangah Forest Reserve that was gazetted on March 15,1965, which was in pristine (virgin) condition at that time.  The major part of the reserve had earlier on been licenced to Yayasan Sabah.

Large scale logging commenced in the 1970s by various licensees and was gradually phased out except for the Yayasan area, much of the remaining of which, is for reforestation, mosaic planting and total protection. Read more

Suhakam to conduct field investigation

Source: Daily Express

Kota Kinabalu: The Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) will conduct a field investigation on the reported demolition of indigenous communities’ houses in Kg Bobotong, Tongod, by the Sabah Forestry Department.

The commission’s investigating officer of the case, Heflin Dino, said the investigation will be conducted based on Act 597 of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999 4(1) that clearly states its duty “to inquire into complaints regarding infringements of human rights referred to in Section 12” of the Act.

Pending the field investigation, Heflin appealed to all parties to remain calm.

“I do hope that the public would not fuel hate sentiments toward parties until we complete the investigation,” he told Daily Express, Monday.

More than 200 villagers of the village in Mukim Entilibon claimed to be living in fear after 16 out of 60 houses were demolished by the department on March 16.

They claimed to have been living in the village for 38 years. Read more

Demolition of Orang Asli homes in Sabah condemned

Source: FMT News

JOAS calls on Forestry Department to stop evicting tribespeople across Malaysia and to engage constructively with the indigenous people struggling to protect their traditional homes in the forests. Pic from FMT News.

JOAS calls on Forestry Department to stop evicting tribespeople across Malaysia and to engage constructively with the indigenous people struggling to protect their traditional homes in the forests. Pic from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS) has called on the Forestry Department to engage meaningfully with indigenous communities across Malaysia instead of resorting to aggressive measures, such as evicting tribes and blocking efforts to protect traditional lands in forests.

The NGO, which focuses on native welfare in the country, said this in condemning the demolition of houses belonging to the Dusun Kiulu people in Tongod, Sabah, on March 17.

“The Dusun Kiulu community are now left homeless by the brutal act,” Juhaidi Marindal, vice-president of JOAS’ Sabah chapter, said in a statement today.

He said the department had accused the villagers of Kampung Bobotong of encroaching onto forest reserve land.

“The Dusun Kiulu have been living in the area well before the area was gazetted as forest reserve land, and they have planted fruit trees and oil palm in the area to earn a living,” he said. Read more