Stop the land grabs in Johor or lose all to Umno
By Chua Jui Meng
It has until today sapped dry the bulk of the wealth of corporates owned by non-Malays.
With really nothing much left to grab, Umno is now going after Malay ancestral and reserve lands big time.
The most rampant of land grabs are happening in south of Johor due to Singaporeans’ thirst for property.
Tens of thousands of land owners, the majority of whom are Malays, have been compensated with peanuts and evicted.
Malaysians have former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to thank for creating the opportunity for greedy Umno chieftains to “legally seize” whatever land they want in the name of development.
It was Mahathir who, in 1991 used Barisan Nasional (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 development.
Save Pengerang! Stop the land acquisition by voting out the Umno-led Barisan Nasional.
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.
The amendments triggered the start of land grabs in Johor in 1992, with then Mentri Besar, now Deputy Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin seizing 32,000 acres in Johor.
Muhyiddin’s most widely publicised 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.
Today, the land grabs in Johor are carried out by Mentri Besar Ghani Othman through his most trusted crony, Tan Sri Dato’ Lim Kang Hoo (LKH), and links with Danga Bay and Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor (KPRJ). Ghani is KPRJ chairman.
Ghani and his state government are now using the Act to mop up as much land as possible from the majority Malays.
End BN-Umno’s 55 years of cronyism.
The Malay land owners are paid “peanuts” for their land which are then alienated by KPRJ to crony property developers to reap billions of ringgit in profits.
Thousands of majority Malay land owners were and are being evicted to make way for greedy Umno cronies.
LKH’s friendship with Ghani and foray into KPRJ started in 1997 with LKH buying a 25% stake (RM61.2 million) in PLS Bhd – RM15 million in cash and RM46.2 million in debts.
LKH’s buying into PLS is controversial because KPRJ failed to pull out when the share fell from RM12 to RM2.
KPRJ also failed to review the buying price or the terms of agreement before the sale.
Instead, the KPRJ’s went ahead to buy into PLS without any discount.
In 1999, KPRJ sold its Danga Bay land to LKH who was seen as a White Knight for settling KPRJ’s outstanding bank loans.
LKH then seized the opportunity to squeeze more land from KPRJ, with the reason that it had to service KPRJ’s loan interests.
In Round 1A in 2001, KPRJ then sold Danga A (214 acres) and Danga B (135 acres) for only RM200 million to Danga Bay Sdn Bhd when the market price was RM1 billion!
Danga C (524 acres) was also sold Danga Bay Sdn Bhd for RM27 million.
Also in this round of rip-off, Danga D1 (192 acres) and Danga D2 (84 acres) were sold to Swan Atlantic Sdn Bhd and Straits Bay Sdn Bhd for RM7.5 million and RM5.5 million respectively.
In Round 1B, Johor government’s land was sold via privatisation to Danga Bay Sdn Bhd.
Danga E (Lagun Puteri and Pantai Lido) totalling 154 acres were sold at RM128 million when the current market value of the land was RM500 million.
In Round 2 of the rip-off in 2005, six parcels of land (Skudai Kiri, D5, LKIM, Promenade Optima Bistari, D4 and PTB21181/2/3) totalling 485 acres were sold to Danga Bay Sdn Bhd for a measly RM150 million.
Danga Bay Sdn Bhd’s new name is Iskandar Waterfront Development Sdn Bhd. Its original name is Abad Ehsan Sdn Bhd.
A corporate restructuring exercise in early 2012 involving a takeover of Tebrau Teguh Bhd, Iskandar Waterfront Holdings (IWH) is now 60% owned by LKH’s Credence Resources Sdn Bhd and the remaining 40% is held by KPRJ, the Johor state investment agency.
IWH’s latest development was the sale of 55 acres of Iskandar’s Danga Bay to China’s Country Garden (Holdings) Ltd for a whopping RM900 million last December.
According to IWH executive vice-chairman LKH, Country Garden plans to develop a marina and marina club, hotel, serviced apartments, offices and commercial development that will have a gross development value of RM10 billion to RM18 billion.
Johoreans, especially the Malays, need only see what is happening to their former land in Danga Bay, Desaru, Iskandar, Nusajaya and Tebrau, to name a few, to realise how much they have been short-changed for their ancestral land.
Have Johoreans benefited?
Country Garden joins several other developers such as Dijaya Corp Bhd, Brunsfield Group, Australia’s Walker Group, Singapore’s Azea Residences and Umno’s UEM as the few getting a share of Ghani’s gravy train.
In the making is Pengerang where the non-sustainable Petronas Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (Rapid) project is to be located.
Rapid needs only about 6,000 acres but Ghani is using the Act to acquire 22,500 acres!
If Ghani is allowed to continue with Rapid, thousands of villagers, the majority of who are Malays, will be forced out of their land after getting peanuts as compensation.
Schools, mosques and surau, hospitals and clinics, cemeteries century old villages will all be uprooted for property development.
This has been BN-Umno’s land grab modus operandi since 1992.
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.