MACC Must Investigate Immigrant Land Transfers in Sabah

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The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) recently announced that they are looking at environmental protection even as they battle corruption and abuses among departments involved in managing natural resources.

Its chief commissioner, Latheefa Koya mentioned that MACC is developing a comprehensive strategy to tackle environmental issues related to lapses by the relevant departments involved in enforcement. The areas MACC would be looking at include forestry, environmental pollution and wildlife poaching, among others.

In fact, it is quite timely for MACC to focus its efforts on Sabah because of constant abuses of power, in particular land transfers to immigrants. Are such transfers legal? Do the transfers conform to state legislation and local by-laws? How widespread are these abuses in Sabah?  

In fact, a report published in Sabahkini2.com highlighted serious breaches involving land transfers to immigrants in the state. It was reported that the Sabah chief minister approved the controversial transfer of 5,000 acres of agriculture land in Sipitang to an ‘outside party’ or immigrant (PTI), Antanyu Nulhaji, who coincidentally is a registered voter at Putatan, Sabah.

Apparently, via a letter dated 28 August 2019, the chief minister had instructed the Director of Land and Survey Sabah to prioritise the land transfer application.

According to a local resident, Supari, the residents of Sipitang are worried because their livelihoods, including SFI employees are at stake, as more surrounding land is transferred to immigrants.   

This is not the first time. In October 2018, the residents of Sook, Sabah protested when the chief minister allowed the land application by 12 illegal immigrants to plant oil palm and fruit trees. Each applicant was purportedly given 15 acres of land in Sook.

Sabahkini2.com also highlighted other controversial land transfer applications in Darau, Kg Warisan, Kg Boronuon, Kg Numbak, Kg Kurol Melangi Teluk Likas and even 50 acres of native land in Pensiangan!

Given these allegations on land transfers, the MACC should investigate and take appropriate action against the perpetrators. If such abuses are left unchecked, the issue would only escalate and this would erode peoples’ trust and confidence in the state government’s administration and enforcement systems.   

As Latheefa Koya pointed out, years ago, people might have been able to run from the law but due to the advancement in technology, whatever you do (today) can be traced, every transaction can be found and there is nowhere to escape.

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