KOTA KINABALU: A planned gathering of native community groups at the popular Sunday Gaya street market to highlight long-standing grouses fizzled out.
Gerakan Misompuru KDMR Sabah’s plan to highlight their concerns over the Nature Conservation Agreement (NCA) for the sale of carbon credit to other issues including native land titles, decided to call it off amid tight security screening.
The group’s spokesman Jeffrey Gopog said that they were hoping to highlight various issues with which they were unhappy and wanted the state government to consider their views.
Some 60 of them from Kota Marudu, Pitas, Tambunan and Kuala Penyu had turned up but decided not to proceed with their plans to hold the rally to highlight the issues at the Sunday market.
Speaking to reporters later, the group’s spokesman Jeffrey Gopog said that they decided to abandon their plans as police were screening them by taking down their particulars and photographs.
Among the issues they were keen to highlight was their concern about the November 2021 deal signed by the state government and a private Singapore company for the sale of carbon credits involving Sabah forest reserves for a period of 100 years.
“The state government should have also considered the views of natives involved in those areas,” he said, adding that it should not have been decided by just a few members of the state Cabinet.
They also voiced opposition to trade cooperation with neighbouring Philippines Tawi-Tawi province as it could further aggravate the migrant problem in the state and threaten job opportunities for the locals.
Gopog said that they were also concerned with the state government’s ongoing efforts to create a digital database on foreigners in the state as it might give them legitimacy to stay in the country.
He said natives applying for land were not being considered by the state Lands and Survey Department which gave more priority to companies applying for land.
“We hope Chief Minister Datuk Hajiji Noor will defend the rights of Indigenous people,” he added.
He said that it was also unfair to vacate the Tanjung Aru low-cost flat local tenants here as well as former local employees of the defunct once state-owned Sabah Forest Industries that wound up in 2021.
Other issues raised by the group was their unhappiness with the Sabah government in resolving issues pertaining to water, electricity and roads that were acted on when highlighted in the social media.
Gopog said their group comprised about 500 people from various parts of the state. They had previously submitted letters to the Chief Minister as well as other leaders and assemblymen about the issues though there had been no solutions.