Wider definition of State land okayed
Published on: Friday, November 16, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: The State Legislative Assembly on Thursday passed an amendment to the Land Ordinance (Cap. 68) to refine the definition of land and pave the way for the State Government to claim rights over natural revenue tax in the continental shelf area. The Land Ordinance (Cap 68) is amended in Section 4, in the definition of land to include the bed of any river, stream, lake or water course and the area of the continental shelf being the seabed and its subsoil which lies beneath the high seas contiguous to the territorial waters of Sabah as stated in the North Borneo (Alteration of Boundaries) Order in Council 1954.

This Enactment may be cited as the Land (Amendment) Enactment 2018, coming into operation on the date of its publication in the gazette.

Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister's Department Arifin Asgali, when tabling the Bill, said the amendment is in line with the existing provisions of the Malaysian Agreement 1963 and Article 1 (3) of the Federal Constitution, which states that the territorial boundaries of the State of Sabah are territories within the State of Sabah immediately before Malaysia.

The Bill was passed by Deputy Speaker Datuk George Ginibun in the third reading.

Earlier, Tambunan Assemblyman Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan suggested that the phrase "including native customary right" be included to the definition of state land.

He said the definition of State land now says that State land excluding "land now lawfully occupied" and request for the word "native customary right" to be included, on the grounds that it will make clear that "lawfully occupied" includes "native customary right".

"I support the amendment, which before that had implications, now we can take action on issues which previously we weren't able to act on or where not clear about the law," he said, citing issues such as minerals, issues about Petronas, licensing and so on.

"I fully support this and this is one of the best changes made by the current government thus far," he said.

Dr Jeffrey also proposed that the Government consider setting up a Land Tribunal to settle the many land disputes, as well as to carry out parameter surveys on Native Customary Rights land that must be determined and gazetted so that there is no claim on this and that.

In addition, he also proposed that the government think of setting up a bipartisan committee, namely Sabah Law Reforms Committee to look into laws which he thinks is out of date and need to be outdated.

Arifin initially agreed to Tambunan's suggestion to add the phrase "including native customary rights" into the amendment.

However, Balung Assemblyman Datuk Osman Jamal pointed out that the session was to discuss on Section 4, in the definition of "land" and that it had nothing to do with Section 5, 6 or other section.

"We should focus on Section 4 of the ordinance, and discuss other matters another session," he said.

Karanaan Assemblyman Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun stood up and stressed that the Assistant Minister Arifin had agreed to add what has been suggested by Tambunan Assemblyman into sub-section (f).

"But after Balung stated the possibility of it being irrelevant, I think before we vote in agreement or not, we must ask an explanation from the assistant minister to agree with the opinions and recommendations from YB Balung as it is two different things," he said.

At that juncture, Arifin noted what was pointed out by YB Balung and withdrew his earlier statement, saying that the amendment proposed by YB Tambunan is not included Section 4.

"I am sorry but I have to withdraw my earlier statement agreeing to add it in, I request for my earlier statement to be excluded from the amendment," he said. - Sherell Jeffrey


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