Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, at a meeting with smallholders affected by the Kuala Lumpur International Airport land acquisition held at Sungei Pelek, Selangor on Sunday, December 25, 1994 at 8 pm
Smallholders whose land have been acquired for the KLIA project and are unhappy with the compensation terms should attend the National Conference Against Land Acquisition Abuses and Injustices at the Federal Hotel in Kuala Lumpur on 8 January to express their views
Smallholders whose land have been acquired for the KLL project and are unhappy with the compensation terms should attend the National Conference Against Land Acquisition Abuses and Injustices at the Federal Hotel in Kuala Lumpur on 8 January to express their views.
With the increasing number of land acquisition by the various state governments for various projects, and the widespread unhappiness of the affected smallholders whose land have been acquired, there is a need for a new look at the entire land acquisition act, policy and process to ensure that justice is done to the affected smallholders.
At present, the only redress available to the affected smallholders is to go to the courts to dispute the quantity of compensation awarded for the acquisition. This however has proved to be most unsatisfactory as such a limited legal redress creates the feeling that the law is one-sided.
There is therefore a need to consider whether the Land acquisition Act should be amended to allow aggrieved smallholders the rights to challenge land acquisitions on other grounds apart from the quantity of compensation.
The struggle of the villagers of Kampung Pantai Kundur and Pantai Tanah Merah is an excellent example that those affected by unfair land acquisition need not despair even when all legal avenues have been exhausted as they can still appeal to the highest court in the country – the court of the people – for
justice and fair play.
It was Ghafar Baba, the then Deputy Prime Minister who said in 1991 when there were widespread opposition and objection to the new Land Acquisition Amendment Act that there are two types of courts in Malaysia – the court of the judges and an even higher court, the court of the people.
The villagers of Pantai Kundur and Pantai Tanah Merah had reached the end of the road as far as the legal process is concerned, as the judges under the existing legislation can only consider appeals on quantum of compensation and cannot entertain appeals based on the larger grounds of social-economic justice and equity.
In fact, 18 August 1994 was to be the last day of the villagers in their ancestral land in Pantai Kundur and Pantai Tanah Merah, as the police and all other related government agencies had been mobilised to evict them and to demolish their house.
If the villagers of Pantai Kundur and Pantai Tanah Ilerah had given up their struggle for justice and fair play without any fight, there would have been no seven-point memorandum of understanding between them and the state government.
It was because the people of Pantai Kundur and Pantai Tanah Merah appealed to the highest court in the country – the court of the people – by standing up and fighting for their rights, and in the process gaining the support and admiration Malaysians of all races and classes, that it gained not only an extra six months but more equitable terms.
This is an excellent lesson to all other smallholders and small landowners whose land have been unfairly and unjustly acquired, that the battle for land acquisition justice must not only be fought in the courts of judges, but even more important, must be taken to the highest court in the country – the court of the people.
It is for this reason that victims of the string of land acquisition abuses and injustices in various parts of the country should make a great success of the National Conference on Land Acquisition Abuses and Injustices at the Federal Hotel in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, 8th January 1995 at 10 and so that the Malaysian people can fully understand why there is an urgent need for radical reforms to the Land Acquisition Act.