Let Sabah district officers give out land titles, Shafie told

Caretaker chief minister Shafie Apdal (second left) presenting a land title to a villager in Kudat yesterday.

KOTA KINABALU: Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) today told the Warisan-led caretaker government to let the district offices hand over land titles instead of the chief minister.

Criticising caretaker chief minister and Warisan president Shafie Apdal for taking part in “big events”, PBS secretary-general Jahid Jahim said Shafie could have let the district officers perform the presentation instead.

He said Shafie had used the events to give rousing speeches and take credit he did not deserve as the initiatives were started by the previous state government.

“It is also highly questionable that such activity is justified, given that the state is still grappling with Covid-19,” he said in a statement today.

PBS secretary-general Jahid Jahim.

“It is very reckless of the state government to allow such programmes because the pandemic is still very much a public health threat.”

Jahid questioned the motive for issuing land grants before an election despite Warisan insisting that it is not against the law.

“The Election Commission should check whether Shafie’s tour of Sabah to give out land titles is tantamount to campaigning and vote-fishing,” he said.

Shafie yesterday rejected claims that he was attempting to buy votes ahead of the state election by giving out land titles to villagers.

The Semporna MP said the state government had been on a drive to issue native land (NT) certificates to rightful recipients since last year.

“What’s wrong with that? I have been giving out land titles for over a year now,” he told reporters after presenting 399 NT certificates to villagers in the Kudat northern district.

“This is not to buy votes. As long as the election writ has not been issued, the caretaker government can still function to give out (the land titles).”

Jahid reminded the people that their land titles were made possible through the efforts of the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government under former chief minister Musa Aman.

“Musa thought up the idea of speeding up the survey process and awarding land titles through the Pantas (Sabah land native services) programme,” he said.

He said the previous BN federal government even contributed RM20 million to the cause, thanks to efforts by Sabah leaders in the then-federal Cabinet such as PBS president Maximus Ongkili.

“It looks like Shafie and his government lack direction and do not have a comprehensive socioeconomic development agenda for the people,” he said.

“Instead, they only rely on propaganda to rally support, promising this and that without anything to show after 26 months in power.

“It is no wonder that he has to rely on BN’s achievements and claim them as his own.”

Jahid also questioned the silence by Warisan activists who condemned the previous BN government when similar events were organised in the past.

“Is it only acceptable when Warisan does this while others are roundly denounced and demonised?

“It is hoped that the EC will investigate the matter and determine whether the handing out of land titles is appropriate just before an election,” he said.