Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at a press conference after a visit to Lorong Reutens, Taman Midlands on Saturday, 4th June 1994 at 11.30 a.m.
Midlands residents affected by the illegal closure of Lorong Reutens are entitled to claim compensation from MPPP and State Government
In the Penang State Assembly this week, DAP Assemblymen pointed out that the MPPP President, Datuk Tan Gim Hwa and the MPPP had abused their powers and acted unlawfully in closing Lorong Reutens for the RM200-million Taman Midlands ‘One-Stop Centre’ project.
The developer of Taman Midlands ‘One-Stop Centre’ project, Pangkal Permata (M) Sdn. Bhd., submitted its application for planning approval for the project on November 1, and in remarkable speed, the MPPP Infrastructure and Works Committee met on 24th November to endorse its proposal to close Lorong Reutens. The MPPP full Council approved the closing of Lorong Reutens at its meeting of 9th December 1993.
On February 28, the MPPP gave full planning approval for the Taman Midlands ‘One-Stop Centre’ Project.
Lorong Reutens had been illegally closed in the past three months creating grave inconvenience to the Taman Midlands residents.
Tan Gim Hwa and the MPPP had acted most high-handedly and illegally in closing Lorong Reutens for the Taman Midlands ‘One-Stop Centre’ in utter disregard of the interests of the Midlands residents as well as the requirements of the law.
Section 67(1} of the Local Government Act 1976 specifically provided that before a public street is closed by the local authority, at least one’ s month notice must be given to the affected residents through a gazette notification of the proposed closure.
Furthermore, such a notice must be posted up in some portion of the road which is proposed to be closed.
Both these legal requirements had not been complied by Tan Gim Hwa and the MPPP.
The Local Government Act also provides for the State Government to hold an inquiry if the affected residents objected to the closure of the road by the local authority. This has not been complied with.
There is also a provision for any owner or occupier at Midlands injuriously affected by the closure of Lorong Reutens to make a claim for compensation to the MPPP before the actual closure itself.
The closure of Lorong Reutens is therefore illegal Taman Midlands residents who have been adversely affected by the illegal closure of Lorong Reutens in the past few months are entitled to claim compensation from MPPP.
I call on the MPPP President, Datuk Tan Gim Hwa to public state whether he is prepared to publicly admit that he and the MPPP had acted illegally in closing Lorong Reutens, and agree to compensate the affected residents for the illegal closure.
In the State Assembly on Wednesday, I gave the MPPP and the State Government 48 hours to re-open Lorong Reutens, failing which, the DAP is prepared to institute legal action to vindicate the rights of the Midlands residents.
This 48-hour ultimatum is now up, and DAP Assemblyman for Datuk Kramat, K. Balasundram has been given the ‘green-light’ ‘to institute legal proceedings to re-open Lorong Reutens after consultation with the Tainan Midlands Action Committee, which had objected not only to the closure of Lorong Reutens but also the RM200 million Taman Midlands ‘One-Stop Centre’ Project.
Tan Gim Hwa and the MPPP had in fact committed two illegalities over Lorong Reutens. Firstly, in illegally closing Lorong Reutens. Secondly, in illegally leasing Lorong Reutens as part of the Taman Midlands MPPP land to Pangkal Permata Sdn. Bhd. for 99 years for the ‘One-Stop Centre’ Project. This is because Lorong Reutens is not MPPP land but State Government land.
As the result of this second illegality, the legality of the entire RM200-milllon Taman Midlands ‘One-Stop Centre1 project can be challenged.
We will leave it to the affected Midlands residents to decide whether they want to challenge the legality of the entire ‘One-Stop Centre1 project.
However, I must express my great disappointment over the Gerakan Assemblyman for Keburi Bunga, Dr. Teng Hock Nam, who had undergone a great change since the last State Assembly in December.
Six months ago, Dr. Teng stood side by side with DAP Assemblymen in questioning Taman Midlands project, in particular over the sale and collection of monies from potential buyers before planning approval, or even before the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between MPPP and Pangkal Permata Sdn. Bhd. on October 30.
This week in the State Assembly, we see a completely changed Dr. Teng Hock Nam, who became the strongest champion of Taman Midlands project -and who have nothing to say about the illegal closure of Lorong Reutens by MPPP or the illegal lease of Lorong Reutens state land to Pangkal Permata Sdn. Bhd.
This was why I said in the State Assembly that Dr.Teng Hock Nam is no more Assemblyman for Kebun Bunga, but Assemblyman for Pangkal Permata (M) Sdn. Bhd.