by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, May 15, 1991:
Is Rent Control Act being repeated and Land Acquisition Act amended to enable the Government to acquire and destroy ‘old and ugly’ buildings in Kuala Lumpur for the benefit of private individuals?
Deputy Prime Minister, Ghafar Baba, announced yesterday a Cabinet Committee under the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, to be responsible for the future planning of the Federal capital.
Ghafar Baba did not reveal much details about the objective and terms of reference of this Cabinet Committee, but what he had said is enough to create concern and even alarm among the people.
Ghafar said that besides traffic congestion in Kuala Lumpur, the committee would also look at buildings, especially some old ones which were ugly. Ghafar gave an assurance that old buildings which have historical value or significance would be preserved.
He said: “We do not want many old and ugly buildings in Kuala Lumpur. We want a city that is beautiful and healthy to live in.”
Does this mean that the Government propose to demolish all buildings, which could mean whole sections of Kuala Lumpur, which it considers ‘old and ugly’ but which have no historic value or significance?
How many such ‘old and ugly’ buildings which have no historical value are there in Kuala Lumpur? Thousands or tens of thousands? And is such demolition of old and ugly buildings to be followed countrywide in all the other towns later?
Recently, there has been a lot of talk about the government’s proposed repeal of the Rent Control Act. Before it, the government had announced its intention to amend the Land Acquisition Act to give powers to the Government to acquire land for development by the private sector which could not be challenged in court. The land-owners could only take the government to court to challenge the quantum of compensation but not the purpose of the acquisition.
I call on the Government to explain whether the proposed repeal of the Rent Control Act and the amendment of the Land Acquisition Act are actually preliminary steps taken by the government to prepare for its intention to acquire and destroy ‘old and ugly buildings which have no historical value’ for their development by selected and privileged privates developers.
If this is the case, then the repeal of the Rent Control Act would not only make the poor and the low-income who live in the 39,000 pre-1948 buildings homeless, it will not benefit the owners of these rent controlled premises as well.
The only beneficiaries will be the privileged private individuals on whose behalf the government will acquire these properties for them to develop.
The people in Kuala Lumpur are entitled to know the real intentions of the Government, and in particular the real connection between the proposed repeal of the Rent Control Act, the amendment to the Land Acquisition Act and the Cabinet Committee to destroy old and ugly buildings which have no historical value in Kuala Lumpur!
The Minister for Housing and Local Government, Dr. Ting Chew Peh, who had been pressing for the repeal of the Rent Control Act, should in particular explain whether the decontrol of the pre-war premises is the first step, together with the amendment of the Land Acquisition Act, for massive government acquisition and demolition of ‘old and ugly’ buildings in Kuala Lumpur, and the parcelling out of these properties for development by private individuals.