What Did You Do All Those Years, Asks Shafie

KOTA KINABALU: What did you do about land for the people during the long time you were in power?

Caretaker Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal directed this question at the opposition which has been quick to chastise the Warisan Plus state government over its distribution of long-awaited land titles.

Speaking at the handing over of native title (NT) land grants to villagers in Kuala Penyu today, he

said despite being the government for just over two years, his administration had managed to fulfill the people’s dreams of having their own land titles.

“They (opposition) are saying it was they who initiated or carried out the work (of distributing titles),” he said at Dewan Datuk Shahbandar Makang.

“But when I went to Kudat and Beluran to present titles, the people contended that they had been waiting for the grants for almost 40 years.

“So what had they (opposition) been doing all this while?

“Today, 122 land grants were given to residents in Kuala Penyu and we will continue (this drive) at other areas to ensure the right of Sabahans is not neglected.

“That is why after taking over the administration, what we promised to the people we delivered which is to abolish the communal grants.”

Towards this end, Shafie said individual titles were different from the distribution of communal grants which was practised in the past.

“Today we have grants for villagers that they can keep and hand down to their children. I hope the lands given will be developed the best possible.

“There are people questioning what Warisan has done … I didn’t do the Pan Borneo (highway project) or multi-level hotels but we have given much assistance to the people despite being in power for just over two years including on land matters,” he said.

He added there was no use ruling for decades when there was no change in Sabah and the people continued to live in poverty.

“That is why we must change … I have been chief minister for two years, at least there has been some change because it was my responsibility to administer the state and help the people.”

Towards this end, Shafie said Sabah also needed to attract more overseas universities to open their campuses or branches in the state.

This is because Sabah, which only has one university, is still lagging behind in terms of higher learning institutions compared to Sarawak which has three such campuses besides the more than 30 in the peninsula.

“The opening of more varsities in Sabah will save costs and lessen the financial burden of parents especially those with low income,” he said.