Kong: Treat Sabah natives as full-fledged citizens

Sabah PKR has vowed to enact specific legal and institutional safeguards and protect the rights of the Sabah indigenous peoples.

PKR presidential council member in charge of land Management and development, Kong Hong Ming, made this pledge while speaking at the forum on “NCR Land: Issues, Policies and Challenges in Sabah” organised by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Sabah, which was held at the Palace Hotel here yesterday.

“It is the constitutional right of the natives of Sabah to be given special position and preferential treatment and the state has the duty to safeguard the well-being and advancement of the natives,” he asserted.

Kong, who is also a Sabah Native Customary Right (NCR) land right activist and lawyer, contended that if the Malays in Peninsula Malaysia can enjoy entrenched property rights in the Malay reserves, why couldn’t the same be accorded to the natives of Sabah and Sarawak?

“Even the Orang Asli in Selangor are protected by the Aboriginal Peoples Act 1954 (Act 134). Why can’t the Barisan Nasional (BN) government enact specific laws and establish an institution to protect and safeguard the interests of the natives of Sabah?” he questioned.

He went on to note that on December 26, 2008, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) consisting of PKR, DAP and PAS, had announced the Pakatan Rakyat Common Policy Framework that guarantees that native customary land (Tanah Adat) in Sabah will not be encroached upon.

He invited participants from the various native communities in the state to contribute to the common policy on NCR land.

Kong warned that the native people of Sabah and Sarawak can no longer tolerate the suppression of their fundamental liberty to life.

“People have been denied of their legitimate right to land and have suffered injustice, hardship and uncertainty in life. The present administration refuses to recognise natives as the autonomous social units that they were in the past,” he said.

He nonetheless was convinced that after this forum, the natives of Sabah and Sarawak will be more confident and understand the significance of NCR land.

“The natives of the present time must ensure that the same fate of being intimidated, arrested and prosecuted by the authorities in defending your NCR land will not happen to your own children and grand children in time to come,” he stressed.

The other three speakers at the forum were Elizabeth Wong, exco member of the Selangor state government and chairperson for Selangor Tourism, Consumer Affairs and Environment; Nicholas Mujah, a NCR land activist from Sarawak; and Dr Chong Eng Leong, a renowned anti-illegal immigrant activist from Sabah.

Also present were PKR vice-president, Tian Chua who officiated the forum, Sabah PKR deputy chairperson Christina Liew, and treasurer Dr Roland Chia, and PACOS leader, Gallus Atoi.

Some 400 natives from all over Sabah attended the one-day forum.