by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary- General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, December 27, l994
Land Acquisition Act should be amended to ensure fairer compensation as well as to entrench the right to relocation to alternative land for people who would be evicted and rendered homeless
The Government should support the proposal by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Housing,
Rajindar Sachar that the problem of forced eviction needs to be seriously addressed, particularly to protect the rights of people who need to be relocated and compensated. (Star 27/12/94 page 4).
Rajindar Sachar, who is the former Chief Justice of the High Court of Delhi came to Malaysia to prepare a report on the rights of housing which had been adopted by the United Nations as part of its basic human rights. He said certain laws, such as the Land Acquisition Act, do not have a clause for the resettlement of evicted people.
Rajindar Sachar stressed that the Principles of natural law should be that houses or land must be offered to the people whose land are to be taken over and that the people must have the right to question any land acquisition.
The proposal of the United Nations housing rapporteur has reinforced the case that the Land Acquisition Act should be amended to ensure fairer compensation as well as to entrench the right to relocate to alternative land for people who would be evicted and rendered homeless by land acquisitions.
The Minister for Law, Datuk Syed Hamid Albar, was reported in the local press (New Straits Times December 27, 1994 page 4) as saying that the Government was looking into the possibility of amending the Land Acquisition Act to overcome problems of compensation faced by State Governments.
Syed Hamid should give a fuller explanation as to what body had been entrusted with the task of looking into the possibility of amending the Land Acquisition Act’, its scope of reference and whether all land acquisition actions which are the subject of disputes and controversies would be suspended until the outcome of such review?
Hamid called on State Governments to be sensitive to land acquisition issues and ensure that compensation was paid in accordance with the market value of the property acquired.
He said many current problems of compensation were brought to the attention of the public as a result of the ‘exploitation of the issue by certain political parties out to project the party’s image’.
Although Hamid had intended to criticise the DAP’s role in several land ‘acquisition controversies, the Law Minister had in fact admitted that without the DAP championing the legitimate rights and interests of the affected smallholders, the various state governments would be remained indifferent and insensitive to the grievances of the affected smallholders.
However, DAP wants to make it very clear that we do not ‘exploit’ the land acquisition issues, whether Pantai Kundor, Pantai Tanah Merah, Kuala Sungai Barn, Air Salak or Paya Mengkuang in Malacca; the second Johore—Singapore Crossing and second Johore Bahru township at Gelang Patah and Tanjong Kupang; the Seremban II township in Manibau, Rasah and Labu in Negri Sembilan; the Kuala Lumpur International Airport project in Sepang; the new township project in Batu Kawan, Penang.
What the DAP seeks to do when we take up the land acquisition abuses and injustices suffered by the affected villagers and smallholders is to ensure that the people are not ‘exploited’ by arbitrary, inequitable and unfair land acquisition.
This is why the DAP is calling for an entirely new look and approach to ensure that there is greater justice for the affected villagers and smallholders in the land acquisition laws, policies and process.