Sabah Minister claims that Bajau Laut residents allegedly set fire to their homes in order to gain sympathy for the demolition of Semporna.

Datuk Cristina Liew said that some Bajau Laut residents who were devastated by the demolition of their homes in Semporna had set fire to their houses to show public sympathy.

This information was provided by sources in the police force who were involved in a recent demolition operation, according to Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment minister.

According to police sources involved in the investigation, some homeowners burned their homes during the absences of the operations teams in the area in order to make the issue go viral on the social media. They also wanted to gain sympathy from the netizens.

Liew explained that the operation was carried out for safety purposes after eviction notices were issued to the nomad Bajau Laut community (Palau), which lives within the Tun Sakaran Marine Park.

She said that the demolition, evacuation and burning of houses or shacks were done in accordance with the law.

This operation was conducted due to security concerns at the district-level, after shooting incidents in Darvel Bay as well as cross-border criminal activity in unauthorised settlement areas.

Liew stated that “the sovereignty of the laws of the country in this matter must be respected.”

She stated that on April 26, a meeting was held between Sabah Parks, the Semporna District Police Chief and Sabah Parks to discuss the TSMP Evacuation Notices.

She said that the operation for the distribution of the notices was conducted from May 2 to 4, and involved agencies such as police, marine, Semporna District Office Semporna District Office Eastern Sabah Security Command Immigration Department National Registration Department Semporna District Council.

“Notices have been distributed to a number of unauthorised settlements within TSMP,” Liew said.

She stated that during the evacuation and demolition of these unauthorised encampments, a total 138 structures have been destroyed in the hot zone.

She said that some homeowners left their houses as they were, while others demolished them themselves.

Liew stated that TSMP was one of the areas declared as a Park Area or a State Park.

She said that any violation of the provisions in the Enactment such as fishing, erecting buildings without permission and farming empowers Sabah Parks take appropriate action.

Liew added that the issue of deforestation of Bodgaya island for agricultural purposes, and the construction without permission of more than 200 structures is an example of violating the Enactment.

She stated that all the actions taken have been approved by the agencies involved in several meetings, including eight legitimate representatives from the TSMP Community who have unanimously asked for the removal of the unauthorised group.

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