Sabah to scrap communal title scheme introduced by BN

Warisan president Shafie Apdal says the new approach will also do away with joint venture agreements with GLCs and companies.

KOTA KINABALU: Communal land titles, introduced by the previous Barisan Nasional government, will be scrapped and replaced by individual land titles in Sabah.

Chief Minister Shafie Apdal said the restructuring will begin soon, adding the communal title scheme was neither feasible nor beneficial to the holders.

“In this new approach, each individual native title will be issued in the name of the beneficiary in the communal title,” he said, adding the new approach will ensure native rights are preserved.

The Parti Warisan Sabah president said the new approach will also do away with joint venture (JV) agreements.

“However, if the existing JV agreements are permitted to continue, subject to terms and conditions, re-negotiations will be allowed,” he said after chairing the state Cabinet meeting today.

Shafie said the individual titles could not be sold or transferred to outsiders. The native titles also cannot be dealt with in any manner by way of power of attorney.

“This means the title owners cannot name someone else (who is not their descendant) to have a right to use their lands for whatever purposes.

“The details will be revealed as we near the 100-day mark.”

Shafie noted that many natives were unable to own land unless they were privileged, adding these changes were necessary to protect natives in Sabah as available land was decreasing due to development.

To date, 96 communal titles have been issued for a total of 152,268 hectares in Sabah.

These include a total of 13,789 beneficiaries from 271 villages in 15 districts.

Out of the 96 communal land titles, 45 are without JV agreements. The remaining 51 include 24 agreements with government-linked companies (GLCs) and 27 with private companies.

The communal title scheme under the BN administration, particularly the state-planned communal titles, were unpopular as these incorporated a development scheme using companies to participate in JVs with local communities.

Partners of Community Organisations in Sabah (Pacos Trust) executive director Anne Lasimbang said local communities wanted these titles to be abolished, contending the JV companies “used unscrupulous tactics”.

She said another main concern about the state-planned communal titles was that the titles allowed for villagers to be excluded from their own land.

However, Lasimbang supported the other type of communal title, based on native customary rights.

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