by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang,in Petaling Jaya on Monday, January 23, 1995:
Anwar should set an example to discuss the land acquisition abuses and injustices in the various states instead of trying to score political points by making emotional and baseless outburst against the Opposition
In the past few days, both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have been touring the states as if general election is around the corner, holding ‘illegal’ public rallies to woo support of the people for the Barisan Nasional when the Opposition are banned from holding public rallies.
The Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister are holding such ‘illegal’ public rallies under one disguise or another for the gathering, with full police protection. There is no doubt that if the Opposition tries to hold such ‘illegal public rallies’ using similar disguises, not only will the Police prohibit them, the padangs and meeting halls which are being used by the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister would also be denied to the Opposition.
It is very significant that in their ‘illegal public rallies’ in the past week, both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister gave the highest priority to the issue of land acquisition, which shows that they are beginning to realise the seriousness of the nation-wide opposition to the land acquisition abuses and injustices and the demand of repeal of the 1991 Land Acquisition Amendment Act.
This shows the success of the National Conference Against Land Acquisition Abuses and Injustices convened by the DAP in Kuala Lumpur on January 8, which was attended by over 1,000 landowners from all over the country who want a new land acquisition law, policy and approach to ensure that landowners do not become victims of the Land Acquisition Act or left out of the development process, particularly in the development of their own land.
However, instead of addressing the land acquisition abuses and injustices rationally, both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have chosen the easy way out to hurl baseless accusations against the DAP and the Opposition.
The emotional outburst by the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, against the DAP in his ‘illegal public rallies’ in Kangar yesterday is the worst example so far.
One English newspaper reported Anwar accusing the DAP of being “traitors to sabotage efforts to uplift the Muslims” while a Bahasa Malaysia newspaper which gave the following front-page headline to Anwar’s speech “Awas Pengkhianat” with the secondary headline “Anwar kecam pihak yang diperalat oleh DAP” started the report with the lead: “Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim hare ini menggesa rakyat supaya rakyat mengepikan pengkhianat pembangunan dikalangan orang Melayu sendiri yang sebenarnya didalangi oleh DAP.”
Anwar should set an example to all national leaders to discuss the land acquisition abuses and injustices in the various states instead of trying to score political points by making emotional and baseless attacks against the Opposition.
Even more important, Anwar Ibrahim should set an example as Deputy Prime Minister to ensure that land acquisition abuses and injustices are not given a racial or religious twist – for the issue of land acquisition abuses and injustices is not a racial or religious issue but concerns justice, fair play and how to strike a fairer balance between development needs and the property rights of Malaysians of all races and religious.
The accusation that the DAP is trying to sabotage the ‘development’ of the Malays because we spoke up on behalf of the villagers at Pantai Kundor, Pantai Tanah Merah and Kerpan should never have been made by Anwar – unless he also wants to accuse the DAP of wanting to sabotage the ‘development’ of the Chinese when the DAP also championed the landowners at Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Paya Mengkuang and Kuala Sungai Baru in Malacca, Gelang Patah in Johore, Seremban II land acquisition in Negeri Sembilan and Bandar Aman Jaya in Sungai Patani (although there are also Malay landowners in some of these projects) because of unfair, inequitable and arbitrary land acquisitions.
Furthermore, the DAP has made it very clear that we are not against development, but it must be development with justice to the landowners and not purely to benefit individuals or private companies with special connections to the top Barisan Nasional leadership in the various states.
I have sent to Anwar Ibrahim the Resolution of the National Conference against Land Acquisition Abuses and Injustices calling for Nine Principles to a fairer land acquisition law, policy and approach to strike a fairer balance between development needs and the property rights of Malaysians.
Anwar Ibrahim should discuss these Nine Principles for a fairer land acquisition law, policy and approach and if he thinks these Nine Principles are unsatisfactory or inapplicable, to give his reasons, instead of making emotional outbursts to score political points.
These Nine Principles for a fairer land acquisition law, policy and approach are as follows:
i. A clear-cut and enforceable Guideline on Land Acquisition to prevent land acquisition abuses and injustices;
ii. Giving aggrieved landowners and villagers the right to challenge land acquisitions which violate the Guideline on land acquisition;
iii. Before any major project involving acquisition of land is implemented, there should be a public enquiry to hear objections from interested and affected parties. Such objections should not restricted to the quantum of compensation but also as to the social, economic, cultural and ecological loss to the community caused by such an acquisition;
iv. 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 whereby higher compensations would be given in the latter case, based on the intended development potential of the land;
v. Recognition of the Right to Development by the original landowners. In case of acquisition for private development, the affected landowners, whether large estate companies or smallholders, should also be given the first option of participating in joint venture development of the land so that they could participate in the development process.
vi. Land acquisition by government agencies should not be classified as for ‘public purpose’ if they are meant for development which would eventually benefit private companies or individuals as through joint-venture development.
vii. The provision of alternative land for the people affected by land acquisition, especially the poor, to ensure that each citizen is able to build a house;
viii. 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;
ix. The establishment of a Land Acquisition Arbitration Tribunal to arbitrate and resolve land acquisition controversies under the above principles.
Malaysians appreciate that the next general election is very near and could be held in March itself, and that as Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim has to spearhead the Barisan Nasional election campaign.
But this does not mean that Anwar should abandon a rational discussion of land acquisition abuses and injustices and resort to emotional outbursts to make baseless attacks against the Opposition – and because of the Barisan Nasional and manipulation of the printed and electronic mass media, cause further injustice to the Opposition by denying them free and fair mass media access to rebut such emotional outbursts and baseless attacks.