Villagers seek review of military area border
Not less than 30,000 Dusun Tindals in 35 villages affected in one way or another by the enlarging military training area here have started to mobilise efforts to excise major parts of the huge 22,369 acres (8,947 hectares) of State land that were ceded to become the Federal Army Training Area in late 1970’s. They have set up an action committee to claim customary lands, and yesterday they received a big boost when three Barisan Nasional people representatives from the area had indicated their support for their initiative. The committee chairman, Jeckson Adam, accompanied by about 20 members mostly village chiefs from the affected areas, yesterday briefed Kadamaian Assemblyman Herbert Timbon Lagadan and Tempasuk Assemblyman Datuk Musbah Hj Jamli of their predicament and efforts at the Umno divisional office here. Jeckson in his comprehensive briefmg, outlined threats to human life, economic activities, livestocks, houses and cemeteries as the main reason for their effort to have the border of the vast military target area reserve redelineated so as to ensure fatal accidents would not happen again, and that the natives could live in peace to toil their ancestry lands. “There were at least four fatal accidents in recent time, not counting accidents on our ancestors’ cemeteries. In fact there was one tank-destroying mortar mislanded in Kampung Tengkurus outside the training camp. All this had compelled us to seek lasting solution and to have the Govermnent review the border of this large army training area. “Some kampungs are still within the gazetted military training areas, while our only roads are going through military training areas. We could not toil our land in peace and could not plant rubber and oil palm. Those who have planted are prohibited to harvest, so it had become very frustrating to us,” he said. Jeckson further said that when military training is on, especially when it involved heavy bombs, pregnant mothers and the sick as well as the small children were the most badly affected and traumatised. He said the committee for a start wanted an immediate response on their request to excise about 1,445 acres of kampung land in Bangkahak Rosok which is already densely populated, and also I’ excise their water catchment areas of about 1,000 acres. The last two fatal accidents, one in March 2006, and another in February this year, happened in Kampung Bangkahak. Meanwhile, both Herbert and Musbah whose constituencies are encompassing the military area, had openly declared their support to the natives’ elf on to have parts of and the large army area he excised and regazetted as kampung lands for the deserving folks. “I found I hat we have a very valid reason to support your efforts for the benefits of your future generation, and we already have the consent and support of Kota Belud Member of Parliament Datuk Rahman Dahlan to take this issue direct to the Deputy Prime Minister who is also the Defence Minister,” Mushah said.