Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr Lim Kit Siang, at the inaugural meeting of the DAP Johor State New Villages Sub-Committee held at Kluang DAP Branch on Saturday, October 2, 1971 at 5pm
DAP proposes a three-point guideline for State Governments in granting title to new villagers
The Perak State Government has announced steps to grant titles to new villagers, beginning with Bukit Merah New Village near Ipoh, the temporary occupation licenses (TOL) will not be renewed. New villagers must apply for the qualified titles before the end of the year, failing which their houses are liable to be demolished and the land re-possessed.
Perak Mentri Besar, Dato’ Haki Kamaruddin, has said only a quarter of the 31,600 households in Perak’s 96 new villages have applied for titles because of economic reasons. A Temporary Occupation License (TOL) is cheaper, cost only $10 a year. While the premium payable for a qualified title ranges from several hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars, depending on each State.
The economic reasons which made new villagers prefer a $10 a year TOL than a title with an expensive premium are valid, and should not be disregarded by the Government.
Every new villager would like to acquire title to the land they occupy. But if the premium payable for such title is too high beyond their limited economic means, then however much they want to acquire title, they do not have the mans to do so. They are compelled to continue with the TOL system with its insecurity and uncertainty.
To dispossess new villagers and demolish their houses because they do not have the financial means to raise the premium is socially inequitable and economically unjust, and not the action of a government which really wants to uplift the lot of the have-nots and eliminate poverty. For such an action can only aggravate poverty and suffering.
The Federal and State Government have a special responsibility to the 750,000 new villagers in Malaysia to give them title, confer them security, because 20 years ago they were uprooted from their homes and farms and relocated in the present new villages by the authorities.
It will be the height of government irresponsibility and callousness if any State Government should dispossess new villagers of their land, demolish their houses, just because they are poor and do not have the financial means to find the money to pay the premium to acquire title for their land.
The 750,000 new villagers should not be penalized because they are poor. They should be given special help to acquire title. I propose that the Federal Government and all State Governments should adopt a three-point guideline in distributing title to new villagers, so that new villagers are given a socially equitable and economically just deal to prove that they too have a place under the Malaysian su.
My three-point guideline is as follows:
1. Permanence and security. The government in granting title, should confer on the new villagers a sense of security and permanence so that they could whole-heartedly develop their land. For this purpose, the government should not give short titles, like 21-year or 30-year leases, as in the case of Johore and Perak, but 60-year or 99-year titles.
2. Low premium for titles. The government should not impose high premiums for titles which is beyond the means of new villagers, whose incomes are very low. Some states like Johore are demanding a few thousand dollars for granting of a qualified title. This is exorbitant and an exploitation of the poor. For the poor, several hundred dollars is already too big a sum.
3. Special government load to help poor needy new villagers to acquire title. The Central Government, together with State Governments, should set up a special government loan to help poor and needy new villagers to acquire title. The loan is repayable over 10 or 20 years on easy terms. This is what the government is doing in the case of FELDA land scheme, where settlers are given huge government loans not only to open and develop their land, but to acquire their title.
If the Alliance Government under Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak is really sincere in wanting to implement a new economic policy under the Second Malaysia Plan to help the poor, regardless of race, then it should adopt the three-point guidelines I have outlined in granting land titles to new villagers.