Press statement (2) by the Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, 20th December 1994
State governments should not just be agents of private companies in land acquisition cases but must bear a responsibility to ensure that affected smallholders whose land are acquired for development by private companies get justice and fair play
The Johore Mentri Besar Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said yesterday that the Johore state government’s role in the RM8 billion Johore-Singapore Second Link and second Johore Bharu towns hip projects was only to acquire 13,000 hectare of land in Gelang Patah white United Engineers Malaysia Bhd (UEM), which has been awarded both projects, was responsible in paying compensation.
He said that dissatisfied landowners can engage private evaluators and bring the matter to court and that the state and federal government will honour the court’s decision.
Muhyiddin’s comments highlight the injustices sufferered by smallholders whose land have been acquired under the Land Acquisition Act, not for public purpose, but for development by private companies like UEM.
As explained by the Johore Mentri Besar, the state government acts as the agent of UEM in the Gelang Patah and Tanjong Kupang land acquisition controversy in handing over the UEM compensation money to the smallholders.
It is not the business of the state government to become the ‘agent of UEM in such oases as it has been elected by the people and not by the UEM. The state government must have a higher responsibility to look after the legitimate rights and interests of the smallholders affected by land acquisition for private development which would bring UEM fantastic profits.
This therefore is the crux of the problem with inequitable, arbitrary and unfair land acquisition for development by private companies.
State governments should not just be agents of private companies in land acquisition cases but must bear a responsibility to ensure that affected smallholders whose land are acquired for development by private companies get justice and fair play.
The new policy thinking and changes to land acquisition law which the DAP is demanding must provide for state governments to discharge their responsibility to ensure that smallholders also benefit fairly in acquisition of their land for development by private companies, whether in terms of higher compensation as compared to land acquisition for public purpose or full participation in the development projects.
At present, state governments act as agents of private companies in cases of land acquisition for private development and not as agents for smallholders.
The door is always open for Barisan MPs to join the All-Party Parliamentary Forum Against Land Acquisition Abuses and Injustices.
In fact, state governments serve private companies in more ways than one, as they not only act as agents of private companies to hand over compensations but also act as agents of private companies to deprive the affected smallholders the fruits and crops on their land and even to evict them from their own properties.
This relationship between the state governments and the specially-favoured private companies goes even further, as it is open knowledge that these companies would be the biggest donors to the Barisan Nasional government parties in the general elections.
I call on Barisan Nasional leaders MP’s and state assemblymen to be sympathetic with the plight of smallholders who have suffered grave injustice as a result of land acquisition for private development and to support the call for new thinking and new government policies on land acquisition for private development.
It is unfortunate that not a single Barisan Nasional MP had responded to my invitation to them to attend the All-Party Parliamentary fleeting yesterday to discuss land acquisition abuses and injustices and to demand for land acquisition reforms.
Although Barisan Nasional MPs have been absent at the meeting in Parliament yesterday which decided to form an All-Party Parliamentary Forum Against Land Acquisition Abuses and Injustices, the door is always open for any Barisan MP who feels strongly that action must be taken to end land acquisition abuses and injustices in the country.
If there are Barisan MPs who are prepared to work with opposition MPs on the All-Party Parliamentary Forum Against Land Acquisition Abuses and Injustices, they are always welcome and the positions of co-chairmen of the Parliamentary Forum Against Land Acquisition Abuses and Injustices will be expanded to include representatives from the Barisan Nasional parties.