by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, September 21, 1994:
Cabinet should direct the Johore State Government to revoke its notices demanding demolition of over 80 houses and chalets at Kampung Air Masin and Kampung Kukup Laut in Pontian and instead announce an incentive scheme to regularise the houses and chalets to turn them into a tourist destination.
On Sunday, together with the Johore DAP State Chairman, Sdr. S.K. Song and other Johore and local DAP leaders, I visited Kampung Air Masin and Kampung Kukup Laut in Pontian, where on the previous Monday, the state authorities had acted in a very high-handed manner in demolishing one house, two chalets and adjoining jetties.
This is another example in a long list of cases up and down the country where the various Barisan Nasional State Governments had acted in utter disregard of their general election promises to be the ‘Pembela Rakyat’ and had instead become the ‘Penindas Rakyat’!
Nobody in Kampung Air Masin and Kampung Kukup Laut, who are mostly fishermen and who have a settlement history of close to a hundred years, have any permanent title for their stilted houses. Their status are all on temporary occupation licences (TOL).
Recently, the Land Office gave notices to over 80 stilted houses, whether meant for private occupation or as chalets for tourists, demanding their demolition.
According to past practice, after paying RM10 to the Land Office as application fee for building a stilted house, the people in Kampung Air Masin and Kampung Kukup Laut could proceed to build a stilted house. After completion of the stilted house, the Land Office issues a TOL after the payment of RM40.
All these over 80 houses had complied with this past practice, and it is most unfair and irresponsible for the Land Office to demand their demolition.
Kukup has become a very popular tourist, destination, not only for Singaporeans but also for foreign tourists from Singapore and this is why the restaurants in Kukup even use foreign languages to attract tourists.
The Ministry of Tourism should commend the people of Kampung Air Masin and Kampung, Kukup Laut in Pontian for their entrepreneural spirit in promoting Kukup as a tourist destination by building chalets and help Malaysia earn tourist revenue.
I visited Kampung Air Masin for the first time and I find the fishing village, with its chalets and stilted-houses possessing a special ambience which makes it a tourist spot with unusual attraction.
The Ministry of Tourism and the Johore State Government, should reward the people of Kampung Air Masin and Kampung Kukup Laut for their contribution to the tourism industry by coming out with an incentive scheme to turn Kukup into a greater tourist destination.
Instead, the Johore State Government is doing the opposite – penalising and persecuting the people of Kampung Air Masin and Kampung Kukup Laut for trying to promote tourism with their life-savings instead of rewarding them with a special incentive scheme.
The over 80 houses which had been served demolition notices by the State Government would have cost the fishing vil¬lagers some RM5 to RM6 million of their life-savings as well as borrowings from friends and relatives – as they do not get any financing facilities from banks, finance companies or any tourist incentive scheme by the Ministry of Tourism or the State Government. These are not rich tycoons or corporate giants, but ordi¬nary fishermen!
Tourism Minister, Sabarrudin Cik should visit Kukup and adopt Kampung Air Masin and Kampung Kukup Laut as tourist, spots which his Ministry would help to develop.
DAP calls on the Cabinet to direct the Johore State Government to revoke its notices demanding demolition of the over 80 houses and chalets at Kampung Air Masin and Kampung Kukup Laut in Pontian and instead announce an incentive scheme, together with the Ministry of Tourism, to regularise the houses and chalets and turn them into a greater tourist destination.
I call on the Minister for Tourism, Datuk Sabaruddin Cik, to personally visit Kukup and adopt Kampung Air Masin and Kampung Kukup Laut as tourist spots which would be fully promoted by the Ministry of Tourism.
There is in fact a need for the Cabinet to direct all State Governments to adopt a more enlightened and people-oriented approach to problems of land and housing, to avoid injustices to the people like the Kampung Air Masin and Kampung Kukup Laut issues, or the Kampung Pantai Kundor and Tanah Merah land acquisition controversy in Malacca.
Cabinet should summon emergency meeting of National Land Council to lay down new policy approach to give fairer and higher compensation for all land acquisition cases.
Towards this end, the Cabinet, should summon an emergency meeting of the National Land Council, comprising Federal Ministers as well as the State Mentri-Mentri Besar and Chief Ministers, to adopt a new policy approach on land acquisition, as well as matters affecting the people’s land and housing.
For a start, all State Governments should pay fairer and higher compensation for all land acquisition cases and they must be more sympathetic to the people’s rights and aspirations concerning their land and housing problems.
In cases like the Kampung Air Masin and Kampung Kukup Laut, the State Government should issue permanent titles to all the stilted-houses in the two fishing villages and, establish a fund to develop the tourist potentials in the area.