Sunday, August 21, 2011

Land fraud by authorities

‘My dead mother returned and thumprinted document?’

Michael Kaung
| August 20, 2011

Native Abdul Wahab Timbasal's mother died 12 years ago but 'returned' to transfer their native land to someone else.

TAWAU: When the dead in Sabah rise and start

affixing their thumbprints on land title deeds it may be time to call in a ‘religious medium’ to get to the truth.

Abdul Wahab Timbasal’s mother died 12 years ago but according to the land office here, she had ‘returned’ and claimed her land title on 15 June 2008, and that too by placing her thumbprint on the grant in front of a lawyer!

The size of the land, his mother ‘returned’ to claim measures 18.10 acres and is located in Ulu Kalumpang and is registered under the Native Title (NT) number 103032408.

A puzzled Abdul Wahab, only discovered this land-grab on April 14 this year when he went to the Land and Survey Department headquarters in Kota Kinabalu to enquire about the land title.

They told him that the title had already been sent to department’s office here on March 1, 2004.

“On May 25, I went to the land office and they told me the grant had already been taken by my mother.

“In the grant copy it showed that mother had signed in front of a lawyer on June 15, 2008.

“But how can this be … my mother died twelve years ago,” Abdul Wahab told reporters during a press conference here in the presence of state PKR council member Kong Hong Ming.

He said he immediately lodged a police report on the matter but had not received any answers until today.

Land fraud common in Sabah

Abdul Wahab said that on earlier this week (August 15), he had met the ‘new’ owner of the land.

“I met the new owner and he told me that my mother sold the land to him.

“I was shocked and contacted Mr Kong in the PKR office in Tawau,” he said.

Kong, a practising lawyer, has made a name for himself acting pro bono for various poor villagers in their disputes with plantations and private companies who have taken over vast tracks of land in the state.

Kong said that based on the facts it is a typical case of land fraud.

“It is very familiar. Normally this sort of case we need to investigate further until the truth prevails.

“There are many cases of persons taking over dubious land deeds.

“They could be victims themselves or they could be the perpetrators.

“One of the means is to go to court to seek justice.

“I must say this case of land transfer using fraud is not uncommon in Sabah especially with land becoming an expensive commodity.

“My advice to the public is to be cautious on land transfers or deeds and go through the professionals,” Kong advised.

Police report

In another separate case, another land owner, Yong Den Fah, was also shocked to find out that a 19.25-acre C.L (Commercial Lease) land he bought in 1999 had been converted and issued an NT title this year without his knowledge.

He said he discovered the scam from the previous owner who told him that a senior officer from the land office here had offered to buy the land early this year from the first owner.

“I also found out that another land title was issued under NT for the same land this year and was transferred to another person in February this year without my knowledge.

“The first land owner also did not know about the transfer,” said Yong.

He said in 1999 when he bought the land it had already been planted with oil palm by SLDB (Sabah Land Development Board) under the rubber smallholder scheme.

Later in 2006 the land was replanted with oil palm.

“In April this year my workers told me that someone was doing site clearing on the land.

“My worker who lives there said that a senior officer from the Land and Survey department supervised the clearing works for two weeks,” he said.

Yong said he had made a police report on May 16 about the trespassing and named the officer.

No reponse despite complaints

He also wrote four complaint letters to the Land and Survey Department director but has not received any response yet.

“I decided to approach the PKR for assistance,” he said during the same new conference yesterday.

Kong pointed out that a plot of land should not have two titles.

According to him, before the new NT land title is issued the Land and Survey Department must demand for the CL title to be surrendered before any new title can be issued.

Kong said he has agreed to render his legal assistance to Abdul Wahab and Yong.

He called on the Land and Survey department to seriously look into the matter and take immediate action in view of the rampant land scam cases reported from across the State.

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