By WILFRED M BUMBURING
LETTER: The destruction of the houses of some 200 villagers in Kampung Bobotong, Entilibon (Tongod) is sad and heart-breaking. The suffering of the families of the local natives, after the only roof over their heads had been destroyed, is unimaginable.
The fact that the Forestry Department has been reported saying they will also destroy their crops from which they earn their subsistence income to feed their families is also disgusting.
These natives had migrated to find new farmland because of economic pressure in their original village. From time immemorial the natives of Sabah had been migrating from one place to another in search of new farmland to feed their families.
Now in the so called independent land they are unable to find a means for their living. Even during the colonial era there were natives who had made their dwelling place areas which had been designated as forest reserve but indiscriminate destruction of their dwelling houses by the colonial government was unheard of.
I am fully aware that these people could be squatting in the forest area. However why weren’t they prevented from building their houses when they started to settle down in the area 38 years ago?
Were these people given enough warning that they are squatting in the forest area? Why are they treated like foreigners in their own state? Does the government realize that it is their responsibility to look after the welfare of their own citizens?
The action of the Forestry department is double standards. There are hundreds if not thousands of foreigners squatting in forest areas in the east coast, the north and the in the west coast of Sabah.
Why is there no action to demolish their houses? Everyone can see for example the sprouting of houses in the mangrove area in Putatan. Why no action is taken on these houses?
The state government had (recently) excised out 30,000 hectares of forest area in Paitan and 30,000 hectares in Sapulut. When I asked in the Dewan Undangan Negeri, what is the reason for this excision, the answer given by the chief minister was that these areas were burnt out and invaded by squatters.
The chief minister also said that these lands are to be given to landless people. However there is information viraled through the social media about eight companies applying for big pieces of land. Are these applications for the recently excised areas?
These people had been living in Kampong Bobotong for over 38 years. Why can’t the state government include these areas for excision for the benefit of these natives? Where are these people going after their only dwelling place were demolished?
Using humanitarian basis as an excuse the government has tolerated so many of illegal immigrants setting up housing colonies everywhere in Sabah but this is the kind of treatment our natives get. Can the government stand in front of the rakyat declaring that they are a caring government?
I just wonder how UPKO, PBS and PBRS are looking at the fate of their own people. Datuk Maximus had claimed the right of PBS to be vocal on issues affecting Sabah. Let us see whether PBS dares to fight for these unfortunate people.
- Datuk Wilfred Mojilip Bumburing is president of Parti Cinta Sabah and State Assemblyman for Tamparuli