PBS task-force on land issues set up, says Dr Max

Ongkili (third right) receiving registration forms from one of PBS Kundasang division leaders, accompanied by Asang (second right) and other party leaders.
Ongkili (third right) receiving registration forms from one of PBS Kundasang division leaders, accompanied by Asang (second right) and other party leaders.

BY MIGHTY MAN

RANAU: Parti Bersatu Sabah will be setting up a special task force to beef up efforts in resolving long standing land issues in the state.

Its executive Deputy President Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili said this committee would be chaired by PBS Vice President cum Assistant Finance Minister Datuk Seri Michael Asang.

The task force will monitor the government’s programmes to expedite surveying of Native lands and ensure land titles are issued speedily.

“Land issue is one of PBS’ struggles which has yet to be resolved. Issues on native land has long troubled our people and we need to resolve them before it get even worse,” he said to hundreds who came to attend the PBS Kundasang Division Annual General Meeting at the Marakau Multipurpose Hall, here, today.

The Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister said he would deal with the issue in the Federal Government level, as he also chairs the Sabah and Sarawak Bumiputera Technical Committee that reports to the Cabinet Committee on Bumiputera Minorities of Sabah and Sarawak, chaired by the Prime Minister.

Among other matters being addressed by the Technical Committee are surveying of customary land, the position of Sabah and Sarawak officers in the federal civil service and provision of basic infrastructures in both states.

He explained that the communal title issuance and PANTAS (Sabah Native Land Administration Services) were among the approaches taken in Sabah to resolve the issue of NCR (Native Customary Rights) land claims. The federal government has provided grants for such purposes since 2013.

“Land ownership is extremely important for the people, it is part of their economy uplifting, such as exploitation for agriculture and income generating activity,” he added.

On another development, Ongkili also said that the state government should set up a committee at the district level to address the problem of persistent poverty in Sabah.

“The committee should include a state time-bound target and Key Performance Indexes (KPIs) in order to ensure each committee performs and meet the target.

“The State needs to be more aggressive and focused in tackling poverty. It is indeed a great discredit to all of us in Sabah to be given the title ‘poorest State in Malaysia’, despite the wealth and resources available in the state and huge development assistance given by the federal government all these years,” he stressed.

“We are all aware that both federal and state governments have spent a lot of funds and efforts to solve poverty in Sabah, but its eradication continues to be a real challenge,” he said

He added that basic infrastructures such as road, electricity and water supplies, basic health and education facilities, income improvement as well as housing are crucial in poverty eradication.

“Only Barisan Nasional can provide these facilities to the people. The opposition can only talk and make promises but they cannot deliver.

“Some of these opposition leaders were holding top positions before, and failed to deliver. Now they are still preaching what they should have resolved when they had the power to do so,” said Ongkili.

Meanwhile, he also urged PBS members, be it on the division or branch levels, to work harder to further strengthen the party.

“The PBS central level will be stronger when the division and branch levels are strong. Beef up our recruitment programme and recruit more members so we can have a more powerful voice,” he said.