3rd link the real reason for Pengerang land grab
By Chua Jui Meng
Chua delivering his welcome address at the Johor Land Issue Forum: Problems And Solutions. The forum at the Li Garden Hotel ballroom was attended by about 800 Johoreans including 100 Orang Asal Seleta on Feb 12, 2013.
PRIME Minister Najib Abdul Razak and Johor Mentri Besar Ghani Othman are in the process of forcibly acquiring 22,500 acres of Pengerang because of a proposed third bridge link between Johor and Singapore.
It is a replay of then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s massive 32,000 acres of acquisition of Nusajaya based on the construction of the second link.
Now Johoreans can see clearly how the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal and state governments acquire agriculture land cheaply from the rakyat, then converting the land use to commercial, industrial or housing developments and alienating the land to cronies for super profits.
When Najib became prime minister in 2009, he met his Singapore counterpart, Lee Hsien Loong, and proposed a third link between Singapore and Pengerang.
Shortly after, he announced the non-sustainable Petronas Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (Rapid) project, which requires only about 6,000 acres. Clearly, Rapid was just an excuse to grab the rakyat’s land in Pengerang to cash in on the property development potential expected from the third link.
Also, the current population of Singapore is 5.2 million and is projected to grow to seven million by 2030.
This means Singaporeans’ demand for high-end property would be served in Pengerang. The BN cronies would then be able to reap huge profits.
We welcome Singaporeans. But our problem is with the greed of Najib, Ghani and BN who are using the Land Acquisition Act to “rob” the rakyat of their land for massive profits.
There is no just compensation for evicting the land owners.
The cruel and oppressive Act is being exploited to secure agriculture land cheaply from land owners, the majority of whom are Malay Johoreans.
BN would then alienate the land, converted to commercial, industrial or housing use, to their crony property developers to reap excessive profits.
Rapid requires only about 6,000 acres? Why is the BN acquiring 22,500 acres?
In short, Najib and Ghani are just applying Mahathir’s modus operandi in Nusajaya which was to enrich cronies with the second bridge link with Singapore.
Tan Sri Lim Kang Hoo’s Iskandar Waterfront Holdings’ sale of 55 acres of Iskandar’s Danga Bay to China’s Country Garden (Holdings) Ltd for RM900 million last December is an example of the extensive profiteering by BN cronies at the expense of land owners.
The majority Malay land owners were compensated with only about RM1.2 million for the 55 acres.
The land grabs, especially in South Johor where market demand for high-end property is extremely high due to the Singaporeans, were all made possible by Mahathir.
It was Mahathir who, in 1991, used BN’s brute majority in Parliament to pass by 99 to 25 votes the Land Acquisition Amendment Bill.
The amendments basically gave incontestable power to state governments to seize private land for development by private companies and individuals.
Lands originally acquired for public purposes can also be used for private property development.
Before the amendments, land could only be acquired for public purposes or for public utilities like building of roads, schools, hospitals, pipelines, water or power plants, etc.
Part of the 800 forum attendees that included this group of Orang Asal Seleta from Nusajaya’s Kampung Simpang Arang. Their mangrove land are being alienated to crony developers without compensation and their 1,000-year-old ancestral burial grounds have also been desecrated.
The amendments triggered the start of land grabs in Johor in 1992, with then Mentri Besar, now Deputy Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, seizing 32 million acres in Nusajaya at 64 sen psf.
Muhyiddin’s most widely publicised personal land grab attempt was the acquisition of 6,600 acres in Tebrau through the Johor State Islamic Economic Development Corporation.
Stamford Holdings Sdn Bhd then sued Muhyiddin Yassin, businessmen Yahya Talib and Syed Mokhtar Albukhary, for damages for alleged conspiracy to acquire land with the use of the Act.
The land acquisition civil suit was settled out of court for a total of RM405 million in 1999. Muhyiddin had to settle the case to prevent the attempted land grab details from becoming public in court.
The Act has thus become a sinful oppressive law used by BN to “rob” the rakyat of their land, displacing thousands of people.
The only way to stop BN’s “thieving ways” is to elect a really caring government that loves the rakyat.
The Pakatan Rakyat (PR) Selangor government led by Abdul Khalid Ibrahim has, after only within a term, shown how land issues had been resolved.
Even the 11-month PR Perak government led by Nizar Jamaluddin was able to show how land could be given to the rakyat and Orang Asal (Orang Asli) irrespective of race and religion, not to rich cronies.
More misery and land grabs are expected to be launched by greedy Umno cronies if the rakyat, especially Johoreans, continue to give their mandate to BN-Umno to govern.
There is certainly no chance or hope for the Johor BN government to change its greedy ways and attitude.
The political battle ahead is tough but we aim to fight until Johor BN is down and out.
Selangor Mentri Besar Khalid:
Khalid …no land for state executive councilors and elected representatives in Selangor.
I had wondered why I won in Ijok in 2008 when I lost the by-election earlier. I also asked why PR could defeat the Selangor BN government.
The answer was our promise to be a truly caring government for the rakyat.
When I took office, I found that much land had been given to Umnoputra and their cronies.
I then put a stop to this and imposed a policy that state executive councillors and wakil rakyat (elected representatives) should not get land from the state.
So, in Selangor today, those who have stayed for more 15 years can apply for land on which their houses are located. They are no longer called squatters as BN-Umno does, but peneroka (settlers).
Also, those occupying TOL land are given their right to own the land by paying a premium which can be quite hefty. This was also a problem because land in some areas like Shah Alam is expensive, costing up to RM70 psf, therefore fetching high premiums.
So, we fixed a standard premium of RM1,000 for the conversion to freehold for the rakyat.
There were also some who had the cheek to complain that they could not afford to pay the RM1,000. So I told them that I will buy their land at the premium price.
None of them wanted to sell and today their property is worth more than RM500,000. This is what we call gross development value (GDV).
Selangor now has a policy that land should not be sold at market price but at GDV to private developers whenever Selangor needed to raise funds for development.
There is no sale of agriculture land to property developers in Selangor, unlike what BN-Umno is doing in their states to profit from land grabs.
We convert the agriculture land to commercial, industrial or residential use so that the price of the plots are high, benefiting the state and rakyat.
Another section of the forum attendees.
Another big problem is the “missing files” syndrome in the Land Office which is inundated by files.
Somehow, with kopi (coffee) money the files are found. The rakyat’s land search woes will be resolved as we are finalising our exercise to digiltalise our records by scanning all land titles in the state.
We are now preparing to introduce value of land asset to the rakyat. We only alienate land to the rakyat who need it for residential or agriculture.
If a Mentri Besar is unable to clarify or resolve land issues afflicting the rakyat, he is not fit to hold office. (Note: Johor Mentri Besar Ghani Othman was invited to officiate at and open the forum but he did not show up.)