DAP Sarawak suspects something not right in the state government’s intention to acquire mixed zone lands situated at 2½ Mile, Matang Road, Sungai Maong Putus, Sungai Gita, Sungai Binjei and Sungai Maong Paroh here.
Its chairman Chong Chieng Jen said a notice under Section 49 of the Land Code (Cap. 81) has been issued by the Superintendent of Lands and Surveys (Kuching division) Ramzi Abdillah to landowners of the approximately 100-acre land, stating the intention to take possession of the land for the purpose of urban development in Gita under the provisions of Section 48 of the Land Code.
However, he wondered if the intention of the land acquisition exercise was the state government returning to its “old way of land grabbing to benefit its cronies.”
“The state government had previously acquired a portion of the land for the construction of road and bridge across Sarawak River. Of course, then landowners in the area were happy because the road and bridge would link Matang to Stapok.
“But while this road and bridge project is currently underway, the landowners received a notice last month (July) that the government is going to acquire all the lands in the immediate vicinity which is over 100 acres,” he told a press conference at the party’s headquarters here yesterday.
According to him, under the Land Code, the government is empowered to acquire land for private development so long as the Chief Minister is of the view that this private development is beneficial to the economic development of the state.
“This means that the government can acquire land and give it to the private sector to develop into a commercial centre or housing estate for profit.”
However, he pointed out that what made matters worse for the landowners was Section 61(i) of the Land Code, which stated that any enhancement or likely enhancement in the value of the land resumed as a result of development in the neighbourhood by the provision of roads, drains, electricity, water, sewerage or social, educational, recreational or other infrastructural facilities within seven years from the date of resumption.
“When the government acquires the vicinity and pay the compensation to the landowners, the existence of the road and bridge currently under construction cannot be taken into consideration for the determination of market value and we all know that the value of land with and without a road can vary two to three times,” he explained, estimating the market value of land in the area to be around RM900,000 per acre today compared to two years ago when the market value paid by the government was around RM350,000 per acre.
“If this acquisition exercise goes through, landowners would not be paid RM900,000 per acre because the existence of that road cannot be taken as a factor for the assessment of market price.”
In view of this, Chong, who is also Kota Sentosa assemblyman, called on landowners who are affected and disagree with the acquisition exercise to contact him or DAP.
“This is a very dangerous trend that is going to begin under Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem’s administration. If the exercise goes through, it will set a precedent whereby cronies will start grabbing land all over Kuching.”
He also called upon Ramzi and the state government to disclose in full detail “what is the so-called urban development plan they had in mind” that required over 100 acres of land.
“We suspect that at the end of the day, after the government acquires the land, they will sell it at a cheap price to their cronies for private development because under the Land Code, they are allowed to do that. We don’t want public funds to be used to construct a road only to see it benefit a few cronies of Barisan Nasional (BN).
“It is therefore the duty of the government to state the specific purpose for acquiring the land.”
Also present at the press conference was state DAP organising secretary Violet Yong.
The Borneo Post Online