KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia: Dozens of "middle-class squatters" are a step closer to being evicted as authorities gear up to act against them.
The families occupying the 32ha site at Kuala Menggatal, some 15km from the city, would be served notices from the Kota Kinabalu Assistant Collector of Land Revenue (ACLR), said Sabah Land and Survey Department director Datuk Osman Jamal.
City Hall would also be taking action using existing by-laws that require the submission of development and building plans for the construction of any structure.
"If no plans had been submitted, the houses there would be deemed as illegal structures.
"If they refuse to leave, the matter will be referred to the courts under Section 166 of the Land Ordinance for encroachment and those convicted can face a fine of up to RM100,000 or five years jail or both," Osman added.
Osman said the site they were occupying had been designated to the state Fisheries Department since 1973.
The affected families began occupying the area since 2001, calling it Perkampungan Bumiputera Melayu Menggatal (Menggatal Malay bumiputra village).
According to department's records, the squatters attempted to apply for the land 13 years ago but it was rejected.
Osman said that last year the squatters resubmitted their application and this was brought to the Kota Kinabalu Land Utilisation Committee where it was once again rejected.