A 17,000-acre land application made over 30 years ago in Tawau has suddenly resurfaced as more than the 1,000 applicants who were supposed to get 15 acres each from it are getting anxious over what has happened to it.
The applicants, mostly former Berjaya members and supporters, recently brought the matter to the attention of former Chief Minister Tan Sri Harris Salleh, who confirmed having approved the application which was submitted through the elected representative then, Datuk Hiew Nyuk Min.
The applicants informed they never enquired about the status of their application at the time as they trusted Hiew.
Harris advised the applicants to seek assistance from their political representatives at Umno Tawau, as most of them are now Umno members.
"Many have asked me directly whether I have taken their land or if I have a personal interest in the land as owner or shareholder. I confirmed to them that I approved their application. I have absolutely no personal interest in this land," he clarified.
He recalled that Hiew had come to see him regarding the land application and proposed to set up a company to develop the 17,000-acre land.
"I was convinced by Hiew that it was the best way to alienate the land to the applicants.
"I didn't know what happened after the approval until many applicants started asking me what happened to it," he said.
He said the land in question that was planted with oil palm would have generated revenue in excess of RM600 million.