KUCHING: The Sarawak government has aborted its forced acquisition of 130 acres of land in Gita — a tongue of land in northwest Kuching.
This was supposed to be part of an urban development plan that would have seen new commercial estates enjoining a new bridge spanning the Sarawak river.
The 100 landowners had received letters of the notification, dated March 30, from the state’s Land and Survey Department, informing them that the state government had decided not to proceed with the plan.
The land had been released under Section 79 of the Land Code, approved on March 27. The letters were signed by Kuching Division Land and Survey superintendent Ramzi Abdullah.
“The owners have successfully defended their land rights,” said state DAP leader Chong Chieng Jen, who served as legal representative of the landowners.
Present at the press conference were several representatives of the landowners.
The Gita landowners had objected to the plan, saying the forced buyout would have denied them the full market value as the valuation offered did not take into consideration a yet-to-be-completed adjoining road and bridge.
In December 2014, the government had made a gazette declaration under Section 49 of the Land Code to acquire the 130 acres for mixed-use development.
Under the law, the state government has the authority to take possession of privately-owned land for public purposes.
The land acquisition and compensation exercise, carried out by the state’s Land and Survey Department, would have joined the land to a road as well as a bridge connecting the northern bank of the Sarawak River to the Sungai Maong inlet to the south.
The Sarawak River separates north and south Kuching.
“The notice of the acquisition was only sent to the landowners in July 2016.
“The government has no specific plan for the development of the area but merely used the vague term of ‘urban development’ for this proposed acquisition,” Chong said.
The indicated acquisition price for the land was RM400,000 per acre although the prevailing market price is more than RM1 million per acre, especially with the new bridge to be completed soon connecting Kampung Gita to Stapok, Chong said.
The affected landowners objected to the acquisition on the grounds that the acquisition price was too low and presented their objections at an inquiry held at the Land and Survey Department last August.
“The purpose of such ‘urban development’ for the acquisition was merely to enrich cronies at the expense of the landowners,” Chong charged.
FMT has contacted the Kuching Division Land and Survey Department for comment.