Friday, May 01, 2015

A reply to “Whither rule of law in Selangor?”

Dear Editor,

I would like to refer to a letter published entitled “Whither rule of law in Selangor?” in Malaysiakini.com at the following URL: http://www.malaysiakini.com/columns/295886

The author is a resident in my constituency and he has cited seven issues which he claimed as “violations” as case-stories and seven reasons for non-payment of his assessment to Petaling Jaya City Council or Majlis Bandaraya Petaling Jaya (MBPJ).

Since I am the State Legislative Assemblyman for Kampung Tunku and the location of all the seven issues he cited are located within my constituency, I am therefore obliged to reply him. Before that, I would like to quote all the seven issues and allow me to reproduce them as below:

“1. A designated and classified green lung of 3 plus acres was abused by the state government for the building of a mosque. The land should have been handed over to MBPJ and gazetted as a green lung. It is adjacent to my home.

2. A green lung allocated and marked for children playground and green space on SS1/1 was violated with a public hall, which was then demolished, and now fenced up with the claim it is now private land. Who stole this green citizen space?

3. A vacant public recreation space next to Kampung Tunku on SS1/39, next to primary school is now earmarked as private land and fenced up. Who stole this green space of citizens of Kampung Tunku?

4. Public green space marked as green on the map of PJ on SS1/41 was stolen, privatised, and then approved for the building of a house or shop or whatever. Again, how did they steal this land and who approved this development and why?

5. A bungalow lot house on Jalan 22/44 has encroached into public space and stolen part of the land by extending their fence and front approach as their private land. Such theft is visible for all to see but the MBPJ officials obviously cannot see.

6. Green space bordering Paramount LRT station and Taman Aman under the Tenaga Power lines is being developed into a parking lot or some sort but citizens are uninformed what is really happening.

7. A green lung next to Paramount LRT had trees and bushes overgrown for all these years. Recently, this space was fenced up, and now appears deemed as private land. Whose land is it and how did it become private land? This sits next to SS1/39 at rear entrance to the LRT station.”
For issue 1, the mosque, which was actually located at Jalan SS 1/31 and named Masjid Ar-Rahman, was constructed in 2003, long before Pakatan Rakyat took over the state government in 2008. To have the mosque demolished and the site to be returned to the council as green lung is neither reasonable nor realistic. Moreover, there is already an existing green lung located just next to the mosque and it is opened to public.

For issue 2, the already-demolished community hall in Jalan SS 1/1 was half-completed by MBPJ sometimes in 2005. Construction halted when the council discovered that the land in which the hall were to be constructed belonged to a private owner named Koperasi Pegawai-pegawai Kanan Kerajaan Berhad (KPPKKB), a cooperative which actually many parcels of lands in Kampung Tunku right from the time the community was developed in 1950s.

The incomplete structure was abandoned. Not too long after that, it becomes as eyesore and a local mainstream daily, The Sun, even carried a report and called it a “hall of shame….monument to MPPJ’s inefficiency”. The eyesore was my first priority during my first term as ADUN and MBPJ spent close to a million ringgit to demolish it in 2010 before the land is returned to its rightful owner. I was made to understand that the land was later sought to a private company and there were plan to build houses on it. However, MBPJ has not received any application from the owner so far.

Issue 3 is very similar to issue 2, whereby the land in dispute was previously used as a green lung and open space by its residents until I found out after GE12 that the valuable commercial land actually belongs to KPPKKB. Similar to the land in Jalan SS 1/1, this piece of land was sought to a private developer. The developer has put in an application to develop the land but was subsequently rejected by the council. The lands was not fenced up by its owner. Signboard has now been put up to inform the public that the land has never been a public land.

Issue 4, 5 and 7 are also similar. MBPJ and I received complaints from the residents. The council and the state government was accused of “selling off” green lung to private owners. I then immediately requested the council to investigate and we were produced with valid land title as evidence that the land was privately owned and was alienated to its current owner before 2008. In all issues related to the land ownership, one shall be reminded about section 92(1) of the National Land Code that:
“Alienation of State land of any person or body under final title shall confer on that person or body a title to the land which shall be indefeasible…”
As for issue 6, MBPJ has foreseen the potential of optimizing lands currently occupied by TNB’s transmission in building more carparks to cater for the growing number of Park’n Ride commuters. These lands are still state lands. TNB was merely given the right of way to occupy these land for transmission lines. I was made to understand that MBPJ managed to secure a RM8 million federal fund to fully utilise these lands for the benefits of commuters and the community.

On another note, residents should be able to find out the details of the construction on such land as MBPJ has already made it a good practise to put up signboard before the commencement of any construction works on any land. As for as I am concerned in DUN Kampung Tunku, this has been complied with even since such ruling is made.

The conclusion that we can draw from the seven issues are: First, the timeline of the incidents are important to ascertain the rightful person responsibility for the faulty decisions. Once the timeline is affirmed, it will easier to get the right person answerable to the questions raised. The issues raised by the author of the letter are serious issues but it is highly unfortunately that the persons who made such decisions or committed such wrong are no longer in the same positions. Records or documentations which are necessary to build up any legal suit or disciplinary action against the wrong-doers may not be available.

Second, once a piece of land is alienated to a person or body and final title is issued upon full payment of premium, in layman’s term, the land is considered “given” to the new owner. The authority can only acquire the land under Land Acquisition Act, not without a reasonable compensation based on market value. If this is the only available option for the government to acquire such land, then the government will have to pay out huge amount of taxpayers’ monies to do so. A floodgate could be opened as I believe it does not only happen in my constituency but others as well.

I believe the author of the letter could have heard of the same explanations from the ex-mayors of Petaling Jaya. In fact, with the good help from the author, we have a mini dialogue with the residents in Taman Aman. The author may not have the chance to raise these issues then. I hope this reply will help clarifying all issues and queries raised to your readers.

Yours sincerely,

Lau Weng San
Selangor State Legislative Assemblyman for Kampung Tunku
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