Merotai Iban community wants government to gazette land

TAWAU:  Some 400 Iban residents living in a longhouse in Ulu Merotai here have urged the government to gazette some 728ha of land here as a village reserve.

A spokesman for the villagers, William Liang Pilai, said they recently received a notice from the Sabah Forestry Department asking them to vacate the land which they have been occupying for 32 years.

"We don't know where else to go. This is our village," he told reporters here.

He said that the villagers were worried over their future as heavy machinery had begun building roads into the area.

He claimed that in 1980, the case was brought to the court and that the decision was in favour of the villagers, prompting them to remain in the area and continued with their farming activities.

There are two longhouses in the village, which have been provided with basic amenities including solar electricity and water tanks, some of which are provided by the government.

The village also attracted foreign visitors who were interested to study their culture and had been hosting researchers from local institutions of higher learning. -- Bernama
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