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Local authorities have undertaken a comprehensive demolition exercise to remove illegal structures outside of the Kg Muslim Filipino refugee settlement.

The integrated operation today, led by Labuan’s Department of Land and Mines is aimed at addressing concerns regarding the safety, hygiene, power theft, and legality of these structures.

Labuan’s Department of Land and Mines director Abdul Basit Abdul Latif said 34 illegal premises, occupied by some 300 individuals, were demolished with the cooperation of police and the Labuan Corporation (LC).

“Local government officials collaborated with law enforcement agencies, and residents in the settlement scheme to carefully plan and execute the demolition exercise.

“The operation was carried out with the utmost sensitivity to the plight of the residents, ensuring that their rights and dignity were upheld throughout the process,” he told Bernama after the demolition exercise today.

Abdul Basit said the illegal structures were constructed on government land, constituting an encroachment.

“We issued a notice to vacate the area in December 2022, but it appears they ignored the notice…this disregard prompted us to proceed with today's demolition,” he said.

He added that the demolition exercise serves as a reminder of the delicate balance between addressing humanitarian concerns and upholding legal and safety standards.

“The upcoming phase of the demolition exercise will take place in Kg Saguking Gersik, where structures have been illegally erected in specific parts of the area owned by Majlis Ugama Islam Sabah (MUIS)," he said.

Labuan National Security Council (NSC) director Mohd Hafiez Mohd Daud said the temporary refugee settlement, located in Kg Muslim, has been home to displaced individuals and families fleeing conflict and hardship in neighbouring regions.

“However, over time, a number of makeshift structures had sprung up without proper authorisation from local authorities.

These structures not only posed a potential risk to the inhabitants but also posed challenges to infrastructure planning and community well-being,” he said.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency