By : JAMES AIT
UNDER Umno-led rule in Sabah, the Natives especially those living in remote areas are the one who had suffered most in term of land-grabs and opportunities in economic agriculture.
In Kuamut constituency alone, thousands of natives of the Dusunic group lost enormous sizes of land to outsiders including Peninsular-based companies who were given huge tract of land for oil palm plantation.
Not only that, kampungs that had existed even before Malaysia was formed in 1963 suddenly found to be inside certain Forest Reserve. Such kampungs are Alitang, Mangkawagu, Namukon, Minusuh, Tampasak Darat, Tampasak Laut and Saguon which are dwelled mostly by the Dusun Tambanuo.
If Barisan Nasional is sincere in helping the natives, its state government could have easily excised these kampungs from the gazetted forest reserve for this situation has put tremendious mental pressure to the natives families.
We the natives gave successive governments mandate to rule over us to manage this country, our land matters, our well-beings but sadly this government today have deserted us simply maybe because it is no longer beholden to us the natives.
I would like to ask the Chief Minister why does his government lack in respect to Natives Rights as stipulated in the United Nation Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people (UNDRIP) which was ratified by Malaysia in 2007?
The majority of natives in Kuamut today are disappointed, and i will be proven right at the coming polls. I was told by many of the older folks that it seemed life during British rule was much better in term of freedom and rights to be heard.
During British rule, the natives of Borneo lived happily in this land, no matter how scarce modern amenities there were but they had freedom to live.
Today natives are restricted to a small corner, in fact being trapped in forest reserve and companies' lands. They missed the olden days when they could move freely in their customary lands (as the British upheld NCR unlike the current Umno-PBS-Upko-led BN government). They were free to toil their NCR but today their NCR lands have been and are being taken away from them.
What astonished me and many in Kuamut is that leaders from Upko and PBS have been silenced, not effective at all in protecting us the poor natives. And what startled me more is the fact that an Upko senior leader is involved in a company that now cleared a huge NCR land in Kuamut whereby native villagers had been assigned to a mere few kilometers or acreage of lands along the kampung roads!
Star, under the sympathetic leadership of Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, will definitely help the natives reclaim their rights, given the chance to do so after the general election.