KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Progressive Party has warned that legal action would be initiated by land owners whose rights have been arbitrarily and without valid reason trampled upon by the government.

Its president Datuk Yong Teck Lee commenting on the latest case concerning a family homestead at Cecily (Pei Ying School area) Sandakan whose 999-year land title effective 12 November 1913 was suddenly revoked and replaced with a 99-year lease, said:

“There is not even any sub-division of land in this case. From the time of their grandparents, the family has been residing on the land for 100-odd years.

"The land owner only came to know about the revocation of the 999-year lease to become a 99-year lease when the land title was returned to them after the transfer to his siblings who have inherited the land from their mother who passed away in 1989."

Yong said that upon transfer of the land title from the estate of the late mother to the descendants, in accordance with the order of the High Court, the land title had the words “nine hundred and” deleted leaving only the words “ninety nine” instead of the original “nine hundred and ninety nine” years”.

The former Chief Minister highlighted this after listening to the plight of the land owner Lo Nyuk Fah who approached him and SAPP deputy president Melanie Chia, for help Tuesday.

“The tragedy of this case is that instead of inheriting their mother’s homestead land, the family has been told by the Land Department in a letter dated 10 September 2013 that their land lease has expired.

"This effectively makes them squatters on government land. How many more cases have yet to surface?

“How many more land owners with 999-year lease are also sitting on a ticking time bomb that will “blow up in their faces” when they submit their land titles to the Land Department for any purpose such as transfer, collateral for bank loans or sub-division?” he asked.

Yong also warned that if this arbitrary abuses of power to revoke 999-year leases is not challenged, then such abuse of power can also happen to 99-year leases that could be reduced to 60-year lease, or less.

He also recalled that before the 2013 general elections, land owners at Sandakan, Kudat and Lahad Datu have brought to SAPP’s attention cases of their 999-land leases been revoked and replaced with a mere 99-lease backdated to the date of issue of the original title.

“Those elected YBs in the BN government who chose to condone such abuses of power by the government should not remain in your comfort zone. In future, you or your families could suffer the same fate. Think of the peoples’ welfare,”

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