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‘Land-grab’ law: Sabah opposition stage walkout

 | March 29, 2012

The Sabah State Legislative Assembly declined a bid by the opposition to raise a contentious clause in a Bill to amend the Land Acquisition Ordinance.

KOTA KINABALU: The three opposition lawmakers in the state staged a walkout from the State Legislative Assembly yesterday in protest of the controversial manner by which the Bill to amend the Land Acquisition Ordinance was pushed through.

The three opposition lawmakers were Luyang assemblywoman Melanie Chia (SAPP), her party colleague Liew Teck Chan from Likas and DAP’s Sri Tanjung representative Jimmy Wong.

This happened after the Deputy Speaker Johnny Mositun refused to allow Wong to take part in the debate of the Bill, which was the last to be tabled in this sitting. Wong had asked for the amendment to the Land Acquisition Ordinance (Cap. 69) when it was tabled.

Mositun had said the reason for him to disallow a debate was because he had already made a ruling to pass the Bill.

This caused Chia to stand up to defend Jimmy’s contention that he was already standing up before the Deputy Speaker made the ruling. She informed the Deputy Speaker that she had also wanted to take part in the debate after Jimmy.

However, the Deputy Speaker refused the pleas of both the opposition lawmakers to debate insisting that he had already made a ruling. A heated argument then ensued and a few backbenchers added their voices in support of the Deputy Speaker.

Failing to get a chance to debate the Bill, the trio walked out of the Assembly Hall in protest and proceeded to hold a press conference to express their dissatisfaction over the hasty manner the Bill was passed.

Chia explained why it was crucial to debate the Bill as it sought to amend the Land Acquisition Ordinance (Cap.69) to empower the Yang di-Pertua Negeri (Sabah Governor) to revoke the acquisition of any land which has been acquired compulsorily under Section 3 of the Ordinance.

Contentious clause

She highlighted that Section 3(1) of the Ordinance stated that: “If the Yang di-Pertua Negeri considers that any land should be acquired for a public purpose he may cause a declaration to that effect to be made in the manner provided by this section and the declaration shall be conclusive evidence that the land to which it relates is required for a public purpose”.

“So the key word in Section 3(1) is public purpose. As the Assistant Minister who tabled the Bill clearly outlined, the intention of introducing a new section, that is, Section10A to this Ordinance is so that land that was acquired for a purpose is no more required for that purpose and can therefore be revert to the owner rather than being left idle.

“I have no argument about reverting land acquired for public purposes back to the land owner.

“However, in the new section 10(2) of the Bill, it is stated that “the land and the buildings and erections thereon shall revert to the owner or the person interested in the land, as the case may be”.

“Now, who would this “person interested in the land” be? How would he be selected? How would the transaction be determined?” she asked.

She said said the portion stating “person interested in the land” should not be included in the Ordinance as it could also lead to abuse as that person may not be the original party involved in the land acquisition.

The amendment appears to go against Article 13 of the Federal Constitution which states that “no person shall be deprived of property save in accordance with law and no law shall provide for the compulsory acquisition or use of property without adequate compensation”.

“What happened in the Dewan today is a mockery to constitutional democracy,” she added.


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