MCA and Gerakan ministers should jointly ask for a special cabinet meeting to discuss the increasing cases of land acquisition abuses, injustices and breach of government promises


Press Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Friday, December 2, 1994

MCA and Gerakan ministers should jointly ask for a special cabinet meeting to discuss the increasing cases of land acquisition abuses, injustices and breach of government promises

It is reported today that the Malacca, Perak, negeri Sembilan and Selangor/ Federal Territory Chinese chambers of commerce will jointly ask the Malaysian federation of Chinese chambers of commerce general meeting in Penang today to adopt a motion asking the government to draw up a comprehensive guideline on land acquisition which will curb abuses and clearly define the criteria for fair and just acquisition, providing for compensation no less than the market price as well as allowing the affected landowners the opportunity to participate in joint venture development.

In actual fact, when the Land Acquisition Amendment Bill was presented to parliament in July 1991, there had been widespread opposition to the new acquisition powers which would allow land acquisition not just for public purpose but also for private development by private companies and individuals.

In parliament itself, the DAP spearheaded the opposition to the Land Acquisition Amendment Bill while it was the MCA and Gerakan Ministers and MPs who gave the strongest support for the bill.

In an effort to alley objections and protest to the bill, the then deputy Prime Minister Ghafar Baba promised that the government would draw up a guideline to prevent land acquisition abuses and injustices and to ensure that landowners affected by such acquisition would not become victims of development.

Up to now, nobody knows whether the government has drawn up such a guideline as a result of the Land Acquisition Amendment Act to prevent land acquisition abuses and injustices as the government leaders have made conflicting statements on the issue.

For instance, the Parliamentary Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Department Othman Abdul told Parliament last month that the government has no such guideline as referred to by Ghafar baba in 1991 as the government always had land acquisition guideline going back even to the time when he was a District Officer dealing with land matters in the seventies.

Yesterday however, the Law Minister Datuk Syed Hamid Albar claimed that there were general guidelines on land acquisition which encompassed three basic principles: land acquisition is for the common benefit, it is strictly for development purposes and acquisition process does not jeopardize the people’s interests.

It would appear from Othman Abdul’s reply in Parliament last month that these general guidelines on acquisition mentioned by Syed Hamid have been in operation for the past few decades and were not drawn up specially to deal with the new acquisition powers passed by Parliament in July 1991.

This will be most unsatisfactory as it would be a violation of the specific promise given by Ghafar baba in his capacity as Deputy Prime Minister to Parliament and the nation three years ago.

Furthermore, the various recent land acquisition controversies and injustices, such as the land acquisitions for the Johore-singapore second Crossing and second Johore Baru township, the Seremban II project Paya Mengkuang pig rearing area in Malacca, pantai Kundur, Pantai Tanah Merah, Ayer Salak, Kuala Sungai Barum have been created precisely because of the violation of the three basic principles mentioned by Syed Hamid.

In all these cases, the land acquisition has jeopardized the people’s legitimate interests and this is why the affected landowners are entitled to seek redress and popular support to ensure that they will become victims of development of their land by private companies and individuals resulting in fantastic profits by a few.

It is most shocking that in the in the past three years, MCA and Gerakan Ministers had failed in their duty to protect the rights and interests of the people against land acquisition abuses and injustices.

DAP proposes a four-point guideline on land acquisition to give new rights to affected landowners to get higher compensation as well as the option to take part in the joint venture development of their land

The MCA and Gerakan Ministers should jointly ask for a special cabinet meeting to discuss the increasing instances of land acquisition abuses and injustices as well as to draw up and announce a fair and just guideline to govern all government land acquisition which would ensure justice and fairplay to the affected landowners.

Such a guideline should incorporate the following five points to give new rights to affected landowners to get higher compensation as well as the option to take part in the joint venture development of their land and should include the following principles:

(1) There must be a clear distinction between land acquisition for public purpose like the building of schools, hospitals and government complexes and land acquisition for development by private companies or individuals.

(2) There must be higher compensation in cases of land acquisition for development by private companies or individuals which must take into account the intended development potential and land use of the property concerned.

As an example, in the acquisition of 33,000 acres in Gelang Patah and Tanjong Kupang for the Second Crossing and second Johore Baru township, compensation should not be based on the agricultural and industrial use when they become the second Johore Baru township.

(3) in cases of acquisition for private development, the affected landowners should also be given the first option of participating in joint venture development of the land so that they could share in the profits of development. For example, in the 2,234 acres in Mambau, Labu and Rasah being acquired for Seremban II project, the private developer, Roadbuilders (M) Holding Bhd, should give the 600 smallholders whose land are being acquired, the option of joint venture development.

(4) This land acquisition guideline should not only be made public by should have the force of law and should be enforceable by the affected landowners.

(5) The establishment of a Land Acquisition Arbitration Board to enforce this guideline.