by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, 9th February 1995:
Road Builder (M) Holdings Bhd (RHB) will be violating the Negri Sembilan State Government undertaking to resolve the Seremban II land acquisition dispute by ‘consultation’ if it goes ahead with its plan to develop the project by the middle of the year
The Road Builder (M) Holdings Bhd. (RHB) Executive Chairman, Tengku Tan Sri Ahmad Rithaudeen, should have met the Negri Sembilan smallholders whose land are being acquired for the Serernban II new township project and set an example to other companies in Malaysia of corporate responsibility and sensitivity to the people whose rights have been adversely affected by the company’s development projects.
The Negri Sembilan smallholders had gone all the way to Hotel Shangrila in Kuala Lumpur on the occasion of the Extraordinary General Meeting of RHB to meet Tengku Rithaucleen and directors as RHB will be the beneficiary in the acquisition of 2,234 acres of land in Mambau, Rasah and Labu for the Seremban II project.
Tengku Rithaudeen refused to meet the smallholders on the ground that there was no point talking to them as it is the Negri Sembilan State Government, and not RHB, which is responsible for land acquisition of 2,234 acres.
This is unacceptable, as it is the RHB which pays out the compensation, to the smallholders, making the Negri Sembilan State Government, a mere agent of RHB in the land acquisition process.
In fact, this was why the Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar, Tan Sri Mohamed Isa, had said both inside and outside the Negri Sembilan State Assembly that the smallholders should resolve their differences on the land acquisition compensation directly with the RBH.
Mohd Isa is not the only Mentri Besar who had said that in land acquisitions for massive development projects by private companies, the State Government is merely acting as an agent of private companies.
Thus, at the end of December, the Johore Mentri Besar, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin described the Johore state government’s role in the RMS billion Johore-Singapore Second Link and second Johore Bahru township projects as that of an agent to UEM. Muhyiddin said the role of the State Government was only to acquire 13,000 hectares of land in Gelang Fatah while United Engineers Malaysia (UEM), which has been awarded both projects, was responsible in paying compensation.
This is why one of the Nine Principles adopted by the National Conference Against Land Acquisition Abuses and Injustices on January 8 calling for a new land acquisition law, policy and approach to strike a fairer balance between development needs and property rights of Malaysians stressed that “State Governments should not just be agents of private land acquisition cases but must bear responsibility to ensure that affected smallholders whose land are acquired by development by private companies get justice and fair play.”
Tengku Rithaudeen should hold a formal meeting with the affected smallholders to discuss the proposal by the 666 smallholders that they be given 30 per cent stake in the joint venture development of Seremban II
Tengku Rithaudeen said yesterday that RHB was going ahead with its plans to develop the project by the middle of the year despite opposition from the smallholders on the rate of compensation paid for their land
If this is the case, Road Builder (M) Holdings Bhd (RHB) will be violating the Negri Sembilan State Government undertaking to resolve the Seremban II land acquisition dispute by ‘consultation’ if it goes ahead with its plan to develop the project by the middle of the year without discussing the grievances of the affected smallholders.
Tengku Rithaudeen should hold a formal meeting with the affected smallholders to discuss their legitimate grievances, as the smallholders are not only aggrieved with the low rate of compensation, but also because they had been excluded from the development process.
In 1991, when the controversial Land Acquisition Amendment Act was presented to Parliament, the then Deputy Prime Minister, Ghafar Baba promised that the original landowner can take part in the development of their land where the acquisition is for development by the private sector.
The 666 Negri Sembilan smallholders are entitled to take part in the development of the 2,234 acres acquired from them and this is why they had submitted a formal request to RBH seeking a 30 per cent stake in the joint venture development of Seremban II new township, in return for the acquisition of their land.