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Peanuts for landowners, millions for cronies

January 18, 2013

The moment your land is eyed by the greedy Umno cronies, that’s it. It will be taken away from you in the name of development.


By Chua Jui Meng

Now the Malays are beginning to see through Umno’s 55 years of misleading the community to enrich themselves, their families and cronies.

It sure took a long time for the Malay Chamber of Commerce Malaysia and several non-governmental organisations to finally see the real problem – the super corrupt and greedy Umno.

Chamber president Syed Ali Alattas lamented that the Malays in Johor are the poorest in Malaysia, with cost of living skyrocketing due to the significant presence of foreigners (Singaporeans) residing in the state.

He also pointed to the fact that 80% of the former Malay-majority owned Iskandar land was now foreign-owned.

Syed Ali said even the Malays in Kelantan were richer because one can buy more with the ringgit in the east coast state.

The Malays can buy a bungalow for RM200,000 in Kelantan but the same would cost RM1.5 million in Johor.

In the past two decades, thousands of acres of Malay ancestral land had been “robbed” by former Menteri Besar Muhyiddin Yassin and now the Ghani Othman-led Johor government is using the Land Acquisition Act 1960.

Just look and tell me what you see in Tebrau, Pasir Gudang, Danga Bay, Iskandar and Nusajaya.

And the latest to benefit from the “seized” Malay land is China’s Country Garden (Holdings) Ltd.

It bought 55 acres in Iskandar’s Danga Bay for RM900 million for property development. The state government, using the Act, had paid the majority Malay land owners only 64 sen psf or RM1.53 million.

Now, locals just cannot afford the houses and condominiums priced from RM800,000 and above. And these properties are on land previously belonging to Malays.

Blame Dr Mahathir

In fact the land grabs in Johor have been going on the past two decades, starting with Muhyiddin, and now with Ghani and his government using the Act to acquire land to be alienated to cronies for property development.

And the person Malaysians have to thank for such an opportunity to abuse and grab land is Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

It was Mahathir, using Barisan Nasional (BN)’s overwhelming majority in Parliament in 1991, who passed the Land Acquisition Amendment Bill.

The rephrasing of sections of the Land Acquisition Act 1960 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.

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.

With the addition of “…for any purpose which in the opinion of the State Authority is beneficial to the economic development of Malaysia”, no land is safe.

The term “beneficial to the economic development of Malaysia” is as subjective as you can get. A piece of land can be acquired to build a posh five-star hotel, an amusement park or a golf resort because in the opinion of the government it would bring in the tourist dollar and create jobs for locals, not to mention enriching the private companies which would, of course, be paying taxes.

That was Umno and Mahathir’s “killer” and is the cause of land grabs everywhere today. This has actually rendered all land in Malaysia as unsafe investment.

The moment the land you own is eyed by the greedy Umno cronies, that’s it. In the name of development (read Umno’s pockets), you will be paid peanuts but Umno and its cronies will develop and reap millions or billions of ringgit.

Rakyat taken for a ride

In Johor, who have benefited from Ghani’s massive land acquisitions? Umno’s cronies and companies. Only Singaporeans and the rich non-Johoreans can afford to buy the properties.

Even foreigners are taking us for a ride just because BN-Umno is desperate to show development.

In Nusajaya, the infrastructure and buildings are constructed by UEM on 305 acres called [email protected] University of Newcastle, Raffles University Iskandar, Reading University and a Dutch Maritime University are slated to just move in and operate.

Foreigners benefit and you call this investments? What kind of development plan is this?

Where are the Johoreans in this? Only Umno cronies and foreigners.

Ghani’s latest land grab exercise is in Pengerang where some 22,500 acres of Malay land, including cemeteries, are being acquired for the non-sustainable Petronas Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (Rapid) project which needs only about 6,000 acres.

Thousands of villagers, the majority being Malays, will be evicted. Such cruel land grabs will not stop unless Umno is stopped.

Chua Jui Meng is PKR vice-president and Johor state chief. He is also a former MCA vice-president and an ex-Cabinet member.


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