KOTA KINABALU : Land and Survey Department Director Datuk Osman Jamal said the department would not recognise claims for Native Customary Rights (NCR) from those who do not originate from that area.
Towards this end, he denied that the department was sidelining land claims and discriminating land ownership for natives.
"What this means is there should also be no unlawful occupation from people who are not from the area. NCR consideration would only apply for those who hail from that area.
"For example, if a group of 100 people went from Tawau to Nabawan with hoes and machetes to open up State land or land reserved for public there and then made a claim for native customary rights, we cannot accept that as they are not from the area."
But he said if, for example, the District Officer in Keningau sets up a 50- acre village for the Murut people in Sook and the village is surrounded by government lands, the department would consider cases like that.
"We know the Murut people like to engage in farming and they open up the government lands surrounding the village for that purpose, the department would not consider it as trespassing but as a customary practice and having elements of NCR."
On this basis, he said it is the current practice of the Land and Survey Department to conduct NCR application reviews for those who originate from the area.
He said this during a briefing for Senior Information Officers at Wisma Tanah, here, Wednesday.
He said the Sabah Land Ordinance 1930, Section 6, also stipulates that there shall be no unlawful occupation of State lands or land reserved for the public.
He also said under Section 5, the control of State land or land reserved for public purpose shall be vested solely in the Government.
This means that all government lands belongs to the Government.
Therefore, any illegal occupation of State land (no matter how long) or occupation through Temporary Occupation Lease (TOL) cannot be taken as the right to establish claim for ownership.
He said the NCR issue also was no longer a hot issue as most of the cases have already been addressed by the department, noting that from the period 1997 to 2013 there were only 615 NCR claim cases and of that 365 cases have been acknowledged as genuine, 70 cases were rejected with only 180 cases left still pending.