by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, 29th December 1994:
DAP call to all other State Governments to review and rescind land acquisition decisions which have failed to three tests of accountability, transparency and justice
The cancellation of four land acquisition sites by the Malacca State Government involving 352 hectares is a vindication of the fight of DAP for greater accountability, transparency and justice in the entire land acquisition process as well as the validity of the opposition of villagers and smallholders whose rights had been adversely affected by such arbitrary and inequitable acquisition.
The Malacca Chief Minister, Datuk Mohd. Zin Abdul Ghani announced after the Malacca State executive committee meeting yesterday that the state government has decided to rescind the acquisition of 352 ha of land in four sites, namely 200 ha in Pulau Gadong for a new township, 120 ha in Air Salak for an industrial site, 20 ha in Pegoh for expansion of a golf course and 12 ha in Lubok Redan for Petronas gas pipeline project.
Mohd Zin said that the rescind order was made after a survey showed that the acquisition had affected residential homes in the four areas.
It is most shocking that massive land acquisitions had been undertaken without a proper survey by the State Government as to whether any houses, buildings or houses of worship would be affected by the development.
It is clear that if the DAP in Malacca had not championed the right of the villagers and smallholders and organised thorn to oppose arbitrary, inequitable and unfair acquisition, the Malacca State Government would not have admitted that it had made land acquisition decisions in utter disregard of the legitimate’ rights and interests of the affected villagers and smallholders.
The DAP has been unfairly accused of trying to ‘exploit’ these land acquisition issues, but events have shown that the DAP had stood for justice when the people were being exploited an unfair, unjust and arbitrary land acquisition process.
In fact, such an arbitrary and inequitable land acquisition process also made a total mockery of the right to property as enshrined in the Malaysian Constitution as one of the fundamental rights of Malaysians.
However, the people must be wary as to whether the Malacca State Government has a genuine change of heart in its land acquisition policies, or whether its rescind order is a mere tactical retreat’ motivated by the fast-approaching general elections.
What the IJAP and the people want is that the Malacca State Government should make public the new Guideline which would be the basis for its new land acquisition policies, which must meet the three tests -of accountability, transparency and justice. Furthermore, the Malacca State Government should allow its decisions on land acquisition to be challenged by the affected villagers and smallholders if it violates such a Land Acquisition Guideline on accountability, transparency and justice.
For a start, the Malacca State Government must recognise the right of the affected villagers and smallholders in any proposed land acquisition to be consulted about the development project.
DAP also calls on all other State Governments to emulate the example of the Malacca State Government to review and rescind land acquisition decisions which have failed to three rest; of accountability, transparency and justice to ensure that the villagers and smallholders do not become the ‘victims of development’ as a result of arbitrary, inequitable and unfair land acquisition.
The DAP is not opposed to development, as what we are demanding is that the villagers and smallholders adversely affected by land acquisitions should become ‘participants of the development process’ and not cast aside and become ‘victims of development’.
In fact, this was the specific promise of Ghafar Baba when he was Deputy Prime Minister in 1991, when responding to widespread nation-wide opposition to the Land Acquisition Amendment Bill. At that time, Ghafar gave an undertaking that small- holders whose land would be acquired for development by the private sector would have the opportunity to take part in the development of their land through joint-venture projects.
This promise has been forgotten by all the State Governments and it is time that this government promise be fulfilled so that land acquisitions would not be so one-sided to benefit only the fortunate and privileged private companies and individuals at the expense of the affected villagers and small- holders.
It is for this reason that a National Conference against Land Acquisition Abuses and Injustices has been convened in Federal Hotel, Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, 8th January 1995 at 10 a.m., and all Malaysians who support the call for a new land acquisition law, policy and process to deal with land acquisition controversies should attend this Conference.