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Harris renews plea on Berjaya-approved lands
Published on: Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: Former Chief Minister Tan Sri Harris Salleh (pic) has again appealed – this time to the Warisan-led State Government after similar appeals to the previous State Government fell on deaf ears – to look into the provision of agriculture and housing land for landless Sabahans, more so the Bruneians residing on the west coast.

"Those living in the city, or municipalities and towns have no land for housing.

This is very serious and will create racial imbalance in the future," he said in a letter to Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal dated Aug. 13, a copy of which was extended to the Daily Express.

He said the majority of Sabahans have no agriculture land for their economic activities now and in the future and suggested that the State Government re-acquire thousands of acres that were set aside by his Berjaya Government in the 1980s but were alienated by Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) to its leaders and supporters.

He was specifically referring to a 5,000-acre stretch from Bongawan to Kuala Penyu which was meant for growing cashew nuts but alienated by the PBS government to its leaders and supporters, who even turned 350 acres into a golf course.

He said the 5,000 acres were specifically reserved for Bruneians living at Bongawan, Kg Brunei, Kg Pimping and Kuala Penyu. He pointed out that there are a few hundred thousand Bruneians living in areas from Sipitang to Sandakan but are without land for agriculture and housing.

"The reality is that most of them mainly living in Papar, Kimanis, Bongawan and Beaufort do not own housing lots, small holdings or agriculture land. More importantly, (they have) no land for their children and grandchildren to build houses.

"Unless the government addresses the problem of land ownership, there's a bleak future for them," said Harris.

He also reiterated that the PBS Government that defeated Berjaya in 1985 wasted no time in alienating most of 930,600 acres – reserved by the Berjaya Government for 60,000 landless Sabahans – to peninsula companies who have since planted them with oil palm.

He appealed to Shafie to look into the issue of people squatting on state land, especially in urban areas.

He claimed that some areas like in Tanjung Aru and Sembulan have been alienated for commercial development and owned by companies without the knowledge of the people living there.

"The companies just waiting either the authorities move them out or the area somehow got burned down and the squatter (residents) are not allowed to rebuild," he said, citing a case that happened in Lahad Datu.

He suggested that to deal with the squatter issue calls for proper planning and housing like how it was done by the Berjaya Government.

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