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

In bitter land dispute with state, Suhakam finding offers hope to Tongod settlers

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Suhakam officer Heflin DIno (left) speaks to villagers of Kampung Bobotong, Tongod, who are trying to resolve a land dispute or risk losing their land, crops and homes. — Picture courtesy of Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, Sabah branch, pic drawn from MMO

Suhakam officer Heflin DIno (left) speaks to villagers of Kampung Bobotong, Tongod, who are trying to resolve a land dispute or risk losing their land, crops and homes. — Picture courtesy of Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, Sabah branch, pic drawn from MMO

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