Published on: Sunday, August 24, 2014
He said, if these problems cannot be resolved soon, the chances for the Barisan Nasional (BN) led by Umno to win in GE14 would be very difficult.
Zahid is also an Umno vice-president said the party needs to listen to the demands of the people at the grassroots, especially when it concerns human rights, particularly if their basic rights are threatened especially lands that have been passed down for generations.
"After studying the speeches of leaders of this division which include the land motion of the indigenous inhabitants... it is only appropriate that the land in the forest reserves be returned to them.
"Without land how are the people of this generation going to enjoy a comfortable life and the future of their children might not be bright.
"I will discuss with the Chief Minister on this regard in the near future," he said, before 500 delegates and observers at the opening of the Tenom Umno division annual general meeting at Antanom hall near here on Saturday.
Zahid said this when commenting on the two motions brought by the division, which was read by the Permanent Chairman on the issue of indigenous land problems and the problem of road and rail infrastructure upgrading works remaining unresolved despite being allocated about RM300 million over five years ago.
Zahid said based on the GE 13 results it is clearly indicated that the opposition votes amounted to 52 per cent compared to the Tenom Parliamentary vote for BN which was about 48 per cent, saying it is a clear signal that the people no longer support BN one hundred per cent.
"Concerns have surfaced that the opposition will take advantage of the Government's slackness in dealing with people on the ground claiming that the BN government and Umno have ignored their responsibility to defend the rights of the people, and they now favour the opposition."
Earlier, Tenom Umno Division chief Datuk Rubin Balang expressed disappointment over the attitude of the Forestry Department which he deemed as more powerful than the Chief Minister, because despite the decision made by the Chief Minister earlier particularly on the land issue, the department's stance remained unchanged.
Rubin said although the Chief Minister announced that forest reserve areas that are no longer productive (inadequate stand of trees) will be become "state land" and given to people who did not own land, to this day many indigenous residents of the area paid a price when they were caught by the department's enforcement and their huts were crops destroyed.
"How can we reassure the people if they are mistreated, while it's not our will because we aim to develop the rural areas ... build good roads, provide electricity so that residents can undertake small scale industry with the electricity supply.
"When we build roads and our electrical wires encroached on forest reserve as happened in Kg Kolorok, Kg Abingkoi some time ago, Forestry did not allow it, resulting in the Ministry's allocation provided being withdrawn." He said.
In the meantime, a group of indigenous people from Kg Tilis, Kg Kungkular,Kg Kabintaluan and Kg Imahit who were present at the ceremony held up a banner and cards with the inscription.
"We appeal to get our land back" in support of the Umno motion.