Sabah Indigenous group stages protest against communal land scheme
Villagers gather near state administrative building to urge assembly to discuss issue
KOTA KINABALU – A group of around 50 Indigenous folks, including children, have gathered at a popular public park in Likas as they plan to stage a peaceful protest on the grounds of the state administrative building, this morning.
The group arrived at the area around 4.30pm yesterday and set up tents while some checked into nearby accommodations to take part in the protest, demanding the state government to remove all the existing communal title schemes.
The Barisan Nasional-era scheme was already legally abolished during the Warisan-led government era in August 2018.
However, some of the schemes remained intact after the Warisan-led government lost in the 2020 state election.
A leader for the group Fadli Starong told The Vibes that the campout spot was just a short distance from the state administrative building, Menara Tun Mustapha, and in full view of the chief minister’s office on the top floor of the complex.
“We chose this place so the chief minister (Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor) could see us down here,” said Starong, adding that he had travelled over six hours from his village in Sapulut to the park.
According to him, over 200 people would be attending tomorrow morning’s stage-in protest, where members from the non-governmental group, Malaysia Humanitarian Organisation (MHO), would also be present.
“There are people from six areas attending tomorrow’s protest. They are from Sapulut, Sook, Kundasang, Tongod, Sandakan and Kunak,” said Fadli, pointing out they were victimised mainly by firms using the communal grant scheme.
In his case, Fadli said a company took ownership of the land where his village was located and hired migrants to guard the land and keep his fellow villagers from entering the property.
He said his fellow protesters were mostly poor farmers who relied on the land as a source of sustenance and income.
The gathering comes against the backdrop of the state assembly sittings which starts from May 22 until May 25.
The presence of protesters at the Likas public park was also met with police officers and enforcement officers from the Kota Kinabalu City Hall.
– The Vibes, May 23, 2023