Wednesday, August 17, 2011

MRT: Chinatown Land Acquisition II


Traders and shop owners express their opposition to the proposed acquisition
of their properties for the MRT today. 
— Picture by Jack Ooi

Prasarana should stop making outrageous excuses to make unnecessary property acquisitions on the pretext of making way for the MRT in Chinatown.

Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd project development director Zulkifli Mohd Yusoff said last week that the land and buildings above the tunnel in Chinatown had to be acquired because “Section 44 of the National Land Code 1965 states that property owners not only have the right to the plot itself but also the air above and ground below.”

At the meeting with the affected property owners on Thursday last week, Zulkifli said that SPNB had spent “three to four months” in talks with the Attorney-General’s Chambers to see if it was possible to tunnel underneath existing properties without having to acquire them but was told it could not be done.

“We had months of discussion with the Attorney-General’s Chambers on how we can have the tunnel underneath and the buildings remain... but under the current law, there is no such provision,” he said.

The above “excuse” for the compulsory acquisition of land above the tunnel is complete and utter nonsense. Either Prasarana is trying to get away by telling tall tales, or the Attorney-General’s Chambers does not know what laws have been passed in this country.

The National Land Code 1965 had been specifically amended in 1990 to allow for the acquisition of underground land without affecting surface property by inserting Part Five (A) (section 92A to 92G) under Clause 3. The amendment enables the disposal of “underground land”, which can then either be alienated or leased or can be subject to the right of use.

In fact, when the Amendments were debated and passed in parliament on the 15 December 1989, the then Deputy Land Development Minister, Dato Haji Mohd Khalid bin Mohd Yunus had presented the bill and clarified that this was to enable the construction of underground car parks, underground railways and underground pipes and other conduits.

…Terdapat juga keadaan di mana kawasan-kawasan yang terhad yang berada di kawasan strategik, perlu dikekalkan sebagai kawasan lapang, padang permainan dan lain-lain kegunaan awam. Dalam keadaan sekarang tanah yang berada di bawah paras bumi tidak dapat dilupuskan secara berasingan. Dengan kemampuan teknologi yang ada pada masa ini, tanah di bawah permukaan bumi mungkin bloeh dimajukan bagi kegunaan yang tertentu, seperti tempat letak kereta, keretapi bawah tanah dan lain-lain.

…Pindaan kepada Kanun Tanah Negara pada kali ini timbulnya dari… Keperluan mengadakan peruntukan bagi membolehkan pelupusan tanah di bawah paras bumi bagi kegunaan yang berlainan daripada kegunaan tanah di permukaan bumi dan Kajian semula Akta Hakmilik Strata 1985… (Hansard 15 December 1989 pp 11320-11321)

Clearly then Prasarana is attempting to hijack the above pieces of land which affects the heritage shop lots in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown for the purposes of profit and not for the purposes of MRT construction works 100 feet underground. Such action for profit is clearly the use and abuse of the Land Acquisition Act 1960 in bad faith.

Given that it is possible for Prasarana to acquire the use of land underground without having to acquire property on the surface, it must now immediately withdraw its order to the affected landowners without causing any further inconvenience to them.
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