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Communal Titles do not benefit Orang Asal

 | November 27, 2015

Pacos Trust claims that Communal Titles (CT) violate the constitutional rights and NCR of the Orang Asal and benefit only the Sabah Government and plantation companies.

Pacos-Trust-Executive-Director-Anne-LasimbangKOTA KINABALU: Pacos Trust, an NGO, has denied a statement by Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman on Wednesday that it was against the issuance of communal titles to the Orang Asal for NCR (native customary rights) land but nevertheless welcomes his assurance that the people living within forest reserves since time immemorial would be accommodated by the Sabah Government if they want the land on which they were residing and working. “The Federal Constitution recognizes customary laws as having the Force of Law.”

“We have in fact campaigned for the introduction of communal titles,” clarified Pacos Trust Executive Director Anne Lasimbang who denied Musa’s charges that the NGO was not sincere in helping the people. “However, we do not agree to communal titles having special terms and methods of implementation.”

The Communal Title (CT), under the Sabah Land Ordinance (SLO), with its Special Terms was not “people friendly” and violates their constitutional rights and NCR, added Lasimbang. “The primary beneficiaries of CTs are the state government and plantation companies.”

Lasimbang warned that the CT, as presently implemented by the Sabah Government, also violates the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) which Malaysia has signed and the notion of NCR as it was understood before the implementation of the SLO in 1930.

Section 76 of the SLO, continued Lasimbang, has significantly increased the power of the government to alienate traditionally Orang Asal land for the purpose of development. “Most Orang Asal land have already been alienated and developed to the detriment of the original people of Sabah, and the SLO and the Sabah Forest Enactment 1968 continues to be used in ways that suit different development agendas.”

Revisiting customary laws, Lasimbang said CTs should be issued in accordance with secured customary rights, so that the Orang Asal in a particular village can have NCR over their own areas within the wider area covered by the CT. “It’s the Sabah Government that’s not sincere.”

In line with customary law, said Lasimbang, CTs have to incorporate the holistic needs of the Orang Asal in a particular area, as well as the idea of integrated land usage, allowing for them to have the right to determine the way that their own indigenous territories can be developed. “The maintenance of crop diversity, water catchment areas, forests and many other natural resources must be considered by CTs.”


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