PETALING JAYA: Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman has warned that Parti Warisan Sabah’s plan to abolish the state’s communal land title scheme will adversely affect native communities who long for proper ownership of their land.
He said Warisan president Shafie Apdal had failed to explain how the policy, included in the party’s manifesto for the 14th general election (GE14), would better protect the communities’ interests.
According to Musa, the scheme introduced in 2010 was intended to provide land to natives who did not have any to their names.
“We have issued 72 communal grants since then, and this has benefited 10,462 people from 213 villages across Sabah as of August last year.
“The total size of land they now owned stretched nearly 120,000 hectares.
“Shafie chose to belittle the scheme for obvious reasons, that is to seek political mileage,” Musa said, adding that Shafie now refuses to acknowledge how the scheme had benefited the native communities including those from his constituency, Semporna.
In its manifesto launched by Shafie earlier today, Warisan said it would abolish the “communal title” and replace it with individual or family titles, and in the process reform the Land and Survey Department to be more effective in processing the people’s land applications.
Musa said the scheme was also introduced to prevent the land from being sold to outsiders, while providing proper large-scale development plans for the plots to eventually eradicate poverty.
He said this meant that basic infrastructure, houses of worship, community centres, drainage, roads and water supply, among other things, would need to be put in place.
He added that the state government had discovered that only 40% of native land owners had actually developed their land.
”This was why one of the conditions for the communal land scheme implementation was to ensure a comprehensive development plan is put in place before it is issued, with the agreement of all stakeholders,” he said.
Musa added that the land could not be sold without the collective agreement of every name within the title and also could not be individually transferred.
He said Warisan’s plan to not just give “empty land” was demeaning as the plots in the scheme were normally lands where native communities had lived and toiled since the time of their ancestors or those that “ate” near their villages.
Shafie had said last month that Warisan’s plan was to not just provide empty land, but to also provide seedlings to farmers and guide them on how to look after their plots.