Request to State and PKNS
I call on the State Government and PKNS to withdraw the compulsory acquisition of the lands belonging to the 1,367 settlers in Bukit Botak. I urge the State and PKNS to do so on humanitarian grounds, in the name of justice and good conscience.
The Background Facts
The Selangor Government had on 6th November 2009, issued a notice for the compulsory acquisition of 1,367 lots owned by the settlers in Bukit Botak. The lands were alienated to the settlers pursuant to the Squatters Resettlement Scheme in 1986. The settlers are to pay RM6,500 as premium and fees. They have to pay RM45,000, RM69,000 or RM79,000 depending on the design for the construction of the houses to be built on their lots. The State imposed a condition that the settlers were to appoint a contractor nominated by the State to build the houses on their land. The first contractor appointed by the State was Shah Alam Properties Sdn Bhd. When SAP did not commence work, the State in 1999 appointed Delpuri Corporation Sdn Bhd. Delpuri built 82 units and delayed completing the rest. The State in 2005 appointed PKNS to take over the project. PKNS built another 88 units, 237 units cannot be built because the lots are on hill slopes or under TNB reserve (“the affected lots”), leaving 1,029 units not completed. According to a White Paper released by the State, PKNS had spent RM48 million, the total cost of the project amounts to RM300 million and PKNS will suffer a loss of RM136 million if it is to complete the project. The State instructed PKNS not to proceed with the project. The State issued the compulsory acquisition notice for the lots on 6th November, 2009.
Committee’s Proposal to MTES
The committee and I held an emergency meeting with the Menteri Besar and the Majlis Tindakan Khas on 12 November to discuss the problem. The Menteri Besar agreed to the committee’s proposal for the state to deliver vacant possession of the lots to the settlers and the settlers will complete the construction of the houses by appointing a contractor of their own. In this way PKNS will not suffer the RM136 million losses. The Menteri Besar agreed that if the settlers agree to this proposal then he will cancel the compulsory acquisition notice. The settlers held a meeting on 21 November 2009 and more than 900 signed the letter, the others who did not sign were those who were living too far away or were working that day. They contacted the committee to inform they agreed to the proposal. The committee informed the 237 owners of the affected lots that due to their situation, the committee will discuss with the State separately to resolve their issue and allow the 1,029 unaffected lots to be completed. I had written to the Menteri Besar of the settlers’ agreement and had delivered the 900 over letters to him on 8 December 2009.
State Decision to Proceed with Acquisition
The State issued a media statement on Saturday, 19 December 2009, that it is proceeding with the compulsory acquisition, on the grounds that the State wants to provide a holistic solution for the 237 affected lots, that another 52 lots have been charged by Delpuri to the bank and the settlers have given a power attorney to Delpuri.
The settlers appeal to the State and PKNS to reconsider the decision. I believe that if the Menteri Besar and Exco have been given the full facts and have been properly advised, they will not proceed.
Firstly, the State must respect the sanctity of right to property. The settlers are owners of the lands. The lands are no longer state land. Borang A has been issued to all 1,367 settlers. 1,002 have paid the premium of RM6,500 and the document of title to the land have been issued to them, 153 paid to Delpuri and 153 are ready to pay once the project is resumed. The settlers have been able to endure the anguish of waiting 23 years for their houses to be constructed because they were holding the land titles. The State must not increase their torment and put greater stress on them by taking away the title through compulsory acquisition. Many of the settlers are now between 50 to 60 years old. The title to the land is their life. You take away their title, you take away their life. The State must respect the certainty, security and sanctity of the citizen’s right to property. I urge the State to reconsider using the power of compulsory acquisition because acquiring the lands without respect to the constitutional right to property is wrong no matter how good the intention may be.
Secondly, State has a separate and distinct contractual obligation with each of the 1,367 settlers. The State cannot hope to provide a holistic solution to the 237 affected lots, by compulsorily acquiring the other 1,029 unaffected lots and redrawing the 1,367 lots and consequently reducing the size of the holdings to accommodate the missing 237 lots. The State cannot penalize the 1,029 owners and their families of the unaffected lots because of a mistake by the previous administration or contractor by reducing the size of the unaffected lots from 2,200 sq feet to a smaller size. There are alternative solutions without penalizing the owners of the 1,029 unaffected lots.
Thirdly, there is no charge or valid power of attorney given to Delpuri. The 52 land charges were created by the settlers themselves as security for the settlers’ loans to pay for the costs of the houses. They are part of the 82 units completed by Delpuri. They are the settlers’ loans and not Delpuri’s loans. The State will cause greater hardship and injustice to compulsorily acquire their lands for RM 12,500 and expose them to a claim from the banks for the balance of their loans of RM45,000 to RM79,000. The power of attorney given by the settlers to Delpuri are no longer valid. The construction contracts for the houses are no longer valid because Delpuri failed to complete the houses and the contracts have been terminated. In any event, they are not registered in the courts and therefore invalid.
Fourthly, it is wrong to recover the PKNS losses from the settlers. PKNS had given a proposal to the State to change the design from low cost houses to low cost flats to recover the losses of RM136 million and the RM48 million already incurred. With the settlers appointing their own contractor, PKNS will not suffer further losses. With regard to the RM48 million alleged to have been spent by PKNS, there is ground to believe that there is some irregularity in respect of these payments. PKNS have only built 88 units and have not carried out any works on the other units besides earthworks. At RM48 million, the costs per acre amounts to RM450,000. The average costs according to industry standards is RM250,000 to RM300,000 at most. PKNS gave the contract to their own companies PKNS Infra Berhad, Selangor Industrial Corporation and Delpuri. Of the RM48 million, RM23,330,000 is contract payments, RM1,348,427 is for professional fees, RM5,663,500 for subsidies and compensation, RM16,206,938.00 is compensation for terminating the contracts and RM1,451,045 for other costs and charges. These RM16 million is compensation within PKNS own group and Delpuri. These payments are much higher than the normal rates. These payments must be investigated by the police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency.
Since the state has decided to proceed with the compulsory acquisition the settlers have no choice but to defend their interests. The settlers hope that the State and PKNS will withdraw the compulsory acquisition before this Thursday otherwise the settlers shall apply to court for an injunction to stop the compulsory acquisition, a suit to claim damages from the State and PKNS and to lodge reports with the police and MACC.
William Leong Jee Keen
Member of Parliament Selayang
21 December 2009