Some 476 Iban families dressed in traditional garb joined the Bersih sit-in in Kota Kinabalu to highlight land grab by the Musa Aman administration.
KUCHING: It appears that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has “no say” in Sabah. At least that seems to be the opinion of some 476 Iban families in Tawau, Sabah, who participated in the Bersih 3.0 sit-in rally in Kota Kinabalu on Saturday.
The families, who had moved to Sabah from Sarawak way back in the 60s, were protesting against the state government which had destroyed their homes and grabbed their land.
According to a victim Jeffrey Kering Anang Bering, the government “seized their lands and burnt” their crops and “bulldozed their homes” on April 14, 2010.
“We sent a memorandum to the prime minister with copies to the Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia and Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.
“We also sent another memorandum to Human Rights Commission Malaysia (Suhakam) in case the government just ignored our memorandum.
“One month after our letter, Nazri Aziz (Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department) asked us to give him one month to solve our problem.
“We have been waiting for nearly two years for a solution.
“There is no response except to advise us to see Chief Minister Musa Aman,” he told Radio Free Sarawak, an online broadcast station over the weekend.
Kering said based on this advice, the families had submitted another memorandum to Musa.
“We try to submit the memorandum personally to him in March this year. We waited for hours, but he refused to meet us. Instead, he sent someone to meet us,” claimed Kering.
Kering and his community came to the Bersih 3.0 sit-in dressed in traditional Iban costumes and held placards and banners to highlight their plight.
“In conjunction with the Bersih rally, we sent another memorandum to the chief minister,” he said.
According to Kering, the community came Sabah in 1964. At that time there were only 34 Iban in Merotai.
“We joined the 34 families and today we have about 476 Iban families in Merotai. We were given lands to farm. Firstly, we were involved in tobacco planting and later cocoa.
“Much later we planted oil palm,” he said.
Their problem began in early 2010 when the lands they planted with oil palm were declared “reserved land”.
This was when their longhouses were bulldozed and burnt and they were chased out as they were “orang asing” (foreigners).
Kering said that they were told to change their ICs and address in order to become Sabah residents.
“Now they declare us orang asing, but we cannot return to Sarawak after we have become Sabah citizens,” he said.