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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

To prevent fraud, Sabah MACC wants to reissue native certificates

KOTA KINABALU - The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in Sabah is now working on a proposal to recall all native certificates and replace them with better quality documents, after discovering that non-natives here have been using fake certificates to buy land.

Its outgoing state director Datuk Hishamuddin Hashim said a total recall of all native certificates would be the best solution due to the probability that possibly thousands of fake native certificates have been forged by syndicates since the practice was ceased by the state government in 1982.

“We have been talking about this with the state secretary, and will be proposing to the state Cabinet and the chief minister in an upcoming integrity seminar on April 7, “ said Hishamuddin, who handed over his post to successor Datuk Shaharom Nizam Abdul Manap today.

He said the state MACC is now discussing possible features for the “high quality” certificate, which among others may include the use of special grade paper or may come with a barcode.

The issue of fake native certificates came to light when the agency was looking into claims that large tracts of native customary land in Sabah’s east coast were purchased for RM1.7 million by a non-native.

Through investigations, it was discovered that many holders of such fake native certificates own native land, including one man with 300 native titles involving nearly 1,000ha.

“We tried to come up with a solution that is fair to all. Only those who qualify will get it and those who haven’t have to prove that they qualify for it.

“We want there to be a clean perception of the certificates so that no one can doubt it,” HIshamuddin said.

On the cases of land bought with the fraudulent certificates, the outgoing Sabah MACC chief said the commission is working on an amicable solution that is fair to all.

“Many did not even know that they had fake certificates. They said their father had obtained it from them and now the father is dead. They had no way of knowing.

“So we came up with a solution to perhaps change the land title from native land to country lease. There will be a premium attached and the owners can pay the premium, which will be given to the state’s coffers. This is a win-win situation,” he said.

The issuance of native certificates or Sijil Anak Negeri was frozen by the Berjaya government in 1982, and the practice was continued by successive state governments.

The freeze was to stop non-indigenous natives from fraudulently obtaining such certificates to acquire native land and other benefits given to Sabah’s other Bumiputera communities.

The certificates were issued by the Native Court after the applicant’s native lineage had been verified as legitimate.

Since then, there have been many calls for the government to lift the freeze on the issuance of native certificates, as many children of mixed marriages could not prove their native lineage as they carried Chinese surnames.

On a separate subject, Hishamuddin said that the state received 452 tip-offs last year on various incidences of suspected bribery. He said 126 investigation papers were opened, 108 people were arrested and 48 people were charged.

This year, the agency has opened some 22 investigation papers so far.

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