21st March, 2017
By MICHAEL TEH
KOTA KINABALU: Native rights NGO, Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalayisa (JOAS) had taken the Forestry Department to task for demolishing several houses in Kampung Bobotong, Tongod.
The demolition was carried out on March 17 after the villagers were found to have allegedly encroached on forest reserve land.
The affected families are now left homeless.
It was reliably learnt that the Forestry Department has since halted the demolition process and given the villagers until March 30 to move out from the area.
In a statement issued here yesterday, Juhaidi Marindal, vice president of JOAS Sabah chapter said the department should have engaged with the villagers first to find a peaceful solution before taking such drastic action.
“These families have been living in the area well before the area was gazetted as forest reserve and they have planted fruit trees, oil palm to earn a living,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS) Datuk Wilfred Bumburing said the demolition of the Bobotong villagers’ houses was unnecessary.
“The suffering of the families who are locals after the only roof over their heads had been destroyed is unimaginable,”he said.
Bumburing also said from time immemorial the natives of Sabah had been migrating from one place to another in search of new farmland to feed their families.