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The Sabah State Government's Lands and Surveys Department has tightened the registration process of private sale and purchase transfers of lands held under Native Titles to avoid abuse by the Malaysian citizens of Sabahan and non-Sabahan descent with 'Sijil Anak Negeri' or native status certification obtained by dubious means that was started during the mid 1970s to the early 1980s pending the definition of 'native' under the law to be finalized soon. The issuance of the Native Certificate was stopped in 1982 but thereafter some cases were found to have been processed to backdate their issuance to prior dates before 1982.

In Sabah, any dealings on Native Title lands, like Malays Reserve lands being restricted to Malays in (Malaya) Peninsular Malaysia, may only be permitted among natives of Sabah under the Land Ordinance 1930. By this definition, even Malay Bumiputeras of West Malaysia and Sarawak including native Sarawakians are not eligible to buy NT lands. They and other citizens and non-citizens in Malaysia can only buy and own Provisional Lease (PL), Town Lease (TL) and Country Lease (CL) lands ranging from tenures of 60 years, 99 years and those registered from the colonial period - 999 years.

The naturalisation of thousands of Muslim migrants from the Philipines, Indonesia and South Asia has complicated the issue of who are to be recognised as natives of Sabah besides those defined by earlier colonial and administrative legislation. Many are active in the procurement of NT lands. In Sabah, it shall be lawful for the native land owner to grant a sublease to a non-native for a term not exceeding 30 years (from the previous 99 years to boost the value of NT lands to commensurate with Country Lease lands but amended to 30 years after much criticism by the opposing native politicans) by virtue of the amendment to Section 17(5) of the Land Ordinance, Cap. 68 and passed by the State Legislative Assembly on November 2, 2000. (Refer to Government Gazette No. 5 of 2000).

Many non-natives deem such short tenure economically unviable for any production purposes for meaningful returns of investment and for the purpose of securing bank loan facilities. After the said amendment, there is no significant registration of such 30 years subleases transactions for commercial and industrial purposes.

Now holders of Native Certificate may need to furnish other documentary proofs such as birth certificates, verification letters by the Native Court office (MAN) or an officially appointed Native Chief (KAN) to process their purchase and registration of ownership with the Lands and Surveys Department after buying Native Title or NT lands. Their Application also be referred to the Sabah Native Affairs Office (PHEANS). The Sabah Native Affairs Office serves as the current final authority for the State Government in resolving native-related issues.

The renewal of Provisional Lease, Town Lease and Country Lease lands ranging from tenures of 45 years, 60 years, 99 years will come under the purview and valuation of the Lands and Surveys Department and the Nature Resources Office subject to advance payment of land premium. The lands will also be subjected to new quit rent based on the current market value of the land.

Source : REALTY ~ Daily Express, 13 July 2009


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