Warisan President Datuk Seri Panglima Shafie Apdal’s accusations that the previous State government was selective and did not adhere to proper procedures in land approvals are completely unfounded.

Demonizing past leaders, twisting of facts and telling outright lies on land grants by the former administration are simply attempts to distract from the real reason behind his sudden generosity to the Bagahak smallholders in Lahad Datu recently.

During a recent handing over of land titles to folks in Keningau and Sook, Shafie in a fiery speech, wondered why Datuk Seri Najib Razak questioned his motive behind giving land to villagers in Lahad Datu.

Shafie said no one made noise when the former state government gave land away to Tan Sri Majid Khan, the owner of Jawala Plantations Sdn Bhd.

I feel compelled to reveal the truth and correct these unfounded allegations by Shafie who clearly made them to tarnish the previous government.

The following are facts:

-In 1997, the Government of Sabah introduced the FMU (Forest Management Unit) system to promote SFM (Sustainable Forest Management) in Sabah.

-Ten separate long term Licences were issued, with the Sabah Foundation, being the biggest concessionaire including the surrender of existing licences, to be replaced with the FMU/SFM concept.

-Unfortunately, no licences were issued to natives in 1997 (Sabah Foundation being the exception) and this was focused mainly on existing licences, some dating back to the colonial era.

-To address this anomaly, the BN Government in 2014 or thereabouts, studied the possibility of bringing in competent native forest operators to join in the SFM-FMU concept.

-Based on its long term experience (since at independence in 1963 or thereabouts) a company, Jawala Plantations Sdn Bhd, was chosen to be a player and to participate in this concept.

-Jawala Plantations, through its overseas subsidiary, is known to have tree plantations, in Indonesia, focusing in the establishment of rubber trees, for the furniture industry, both in Peninsula Malaysia and in Indonesia.

-For its Sabah venture, it proposed to plant indigenous species, including Red Laran, white Laran etc for face veneer of high quality.

-Due to the scarcity of available sized areas in a single locality in Sabah, it was deemed appropriate that the existing FMUs might consider sharing their areas, by allowing a portion of their areas to be reforested by others equally competent.

-Sapulot Forest Management agreed to surrender about 11,000 hectares, of their FMU Licence (originally 94,000 ha.) for the government’s benefit as it deemed fit.

-With the consent of the State Cabinet, the excision was completed and thereafter, the Jawala FMU licence, was issued, and the area (11,000 ha.) being reforested.

-This excision was carried out with the intention of accelerating the FMU/SFM endeavours: more players, more capital, equity addressed and greater achievements.

Clearly playing to the gallery, Shafie without blinking an eye lied to a crowd about the land matter concerning Jawala Plantations.

In his speech, he also choses to conveniently leave the history of the Bagahak Plantation land tussle, the personalities involved and the current status of the case.

The main intention of highlighting the Jawala Plantations case is to divert attention from the Bahagak land fiasco.

Many quarters have openly criticised the decision by Shafie to grant 6,800 ha of land to the Bagahak Community. They questioned whether the blatant move was to rescue his deputy, Christina Liew, who has been ordered by the Sabah Court together with two others to pay RM577 million in damages.

If Sawit Kinabalu drops the charges against Liew, then it is unbecoming and reckless of a Chief Minister to circumvent a decision by the High Court – which is favourable to the Sabah government and therefore to the people of Sabah as a whole – simply to rescue Liew who has been found liable after a full trial.

While we are all for people friendly land policies, granting of land applications should be motivated by the right reasons and done according to proper procedures.-Datuk Seri Panglima Abdul Rahman Dahlan, UMNO Sabah Tuaran Division Chief, Member of UMNO Malaysia Supreme Council.

–The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the official views and policies or position of Borneonews.net. Any content that the article contributors express are their sole opinion.-Chief Editor / BNN