MRT Update: PJ Utara MP Tony Pua says National Land Code was already amended in 1990 to accommodate underground railways!

TRANSIT took note of this article, detailing a statement from PJ Utara MP Tony Pua saying that the National Land Code has already been amended to accommodate underground railways.

Therefore (according to Pua) the controversial land acquisition exercise in KL’s “Chinatown” is not even necessary.

Chinatown land buy: ‘Prasarana abusing law’ (Free Malaysia Today)
August 16, 2011
Teoh El Sen

DAP publicity chief Tony Pua reveals that an amendment of the National Land Code allows for the use of underground land without having to acquire surface property.

PETALING JAYA: Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd, a 100% government-owned transport company, is abusing the law for the purposes of profit in making “unnecessary” property acquisitions in Chinatown, the DAP alleged today.

DAP publicity chief Tony Pua said the National Land Code 1965 was specifically amended in 1990 to allow for the acquisition of underground land without affecting surface property.

“This was done by inserting Part Five (A) (section 92A to 92G) under Clause 3. The amendment enables the disposal of ‘underground land’, which can either be alienated or leased or be subject to right of use,” he said.

“Clearly then Prasarana is attempting to hijack the above pieces of land which affect the heritage shoplots in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown for the purpose of making profit and not with the aim of undertaking the MRT project 100 feet underground,” said Pua, the Petaling Jaya Utara MP.

[TRANSIT: What he means to say is that since land acquisition is not necessary, there must be some other reason why Prasarana wants to acquire these properties.]

“Such action for profit is clearly an abuse of the Land Acquisition Act 1960 and done in bad faith,” he added.

Pua urged Prasarana to “stop making outrageous excuses” and immediately withdraw its order to landowners to give up their property as it is possible to use the land without acquiring their property.

Pua quoted Prasarana project development director Zulkifli Mohd Yusoff as saying last week that the acquisition of Chinatown land was a must as “Section 44 of the National Land Code 1965 states that property owners not only have the right to the plot itself but also the air space above and ground below”.

During a meeting with the affected property owners, Zulkifli also said Prasarana had consulted the Attorney-General’s Chambers on whether it was possible to tunnel undernearth existing properties without having to acquire them.

“The above ‘excuse’ for the compulsory acquisition of land above the tunnel is complete and utter nonsense. Either Prasarana is trying to get away by telling tall tales, or the Attorney-General’s Chambers does not know what laws have been passed in this country,” said Pua.

[TRANSIT: You hardly get statements as clear as that.]

Underground amenities

He said the amendments to the National Land Code were specifically made to allow for the construction of underground amenities, including railways.

“When the amendments were debated and passed in Parliament on Dec 15, 1989, the then deputy land development minister, Mohd Khalid Mohd Yunus, had presented the bill and clarified that this was to enable the construction of underground car parks, underground railways and underground pipes and other conduits,” Pua said.

Last week, property owners in Petaling Street cried foul when it was made known that Prasarana was acquiring their private land and 34 shoplots in the area to make way for the Jalan Sultan portion of the MRT project.

Others also said that the area was an important part of the city’s heritage.

Prasarana is acquiring 500 to 600 lots of private land, which is about 20% of the total land area needed for the project.

The track alignment, which was approved by the government a few months ago, will run along Jalan Sultan from KL Sentral and cut through the arch that bears the name “Petaling Street”. The station, along with its tracks, will be built underground, cutting its way through portions of Chinatown.

During the briefing last week, Zulkifli said: “You cannot stop the acquisition.”

TRANSIT Says:

Well … now hopefully the public will understand why TRANSIT has always wanted to have a Parliamentary Select Committee to monitor public transport – and why we remain committed to that goal.

TRANSIT still prefers an alternative alignment that serves Puduraya and a revived Plaza Rakyat rather than the proposed Merdeka Development – simply because it is a better fit for public transport integration and a better fit under our roads.

We hope that this issue will be resolved soon, and we thank Tony Pua for clearly stating that the National Land Code has been amended to allow for the construction of underground railways. The actual Hansard is copied below:

…Terdapat juga keadaan di mana kawasan-kawasan yang terhad yang berada di kawasan strategik, perlu dikekalkan sebagai kawasan lapang, padang permainan dan lain-lain kegunaan awam. Dalam keadaan sekarang tanah yang berada di bawah paras bumi tidak dapat dilupuskan secara berasingan. Dengan kemampuan teknologi yang ada pada masa ini, tanah di bawah permukaan bumi mungkin bloeh dimajukan bagi kegunaan yang tertentu, seperti tempat letak kereta, keretapi bawah tanah dan lain-lain.

…Pindaan kepada Kanun Tanah Negara pada kali ini timbulnya dari… Keperluan mengadakan peruntukan bagi membolehkan pelupusan tanah di bawah paras bumi bagi kegunaan yang berlainan daripada kegunaan tanah di permukaan bumi dan Kajian semula Akta Hakmilik Strata 1985… (Hansard 15 December 1989 pp 11320-11321)

We hope that this can be further cleared up in the next few days, but for now, this is what we are going with.

As always, your thoughts & views are welcomed in the space below.

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13 thoughts on “MRT Update: PJ Utara MP Tony Pua says National Land Code was already amended in 1990 to accommodate underground railways!”

  1. hmmm… i wonder why they have to build the smart tunnel zig-zag if they know about this?

    why bother about Petaling Street when you definitely change the whole alignment since you don’t really need to acquire any underground properties. tunneling cost will be a lot cheaper if you don’t have to follow the properties above ground…

  2. should i remind you that KL sit on limestone bedrock? do you know any hazard potential during boring tunnel process especially this type of soil? remember during PUTRA line underground tunnel work before, there’s 10 cases of sinkhole were reported. imagine if that happen on the 100 year old building, or any building supposedly. would tenants gonna sue Prasarana if their love one die to due tragedy of cracking, collapsing, or sinking building? so just let them do their stuff like always continue doing business while TBM is boring beneath their shop?

    before you suggest prasarana or PNB to revive plaza rakyat, you first should do some research on plaza rakyat case. do you think is easy to solve this cases and forcing PNB or prasarana to revive plaza rakyat while he real culprit of this case are free?

    1. @Sepol

      TRANSIT’s point is pretty clear, no matter what is being said on either side.

      We do not need the Warisan Merdeka development, and we do not need MRT running under Jalan Sultan because of the Warisan Merdeka development. Redeveloping Plaza Rakyat (in other words, attempting to find a solution for the problem – something which every Federal Territories Minister says they are going to do since the project was abandoned) is more important for public transport in the Klang Valley than building the Warisan Merdeka development.

      Tony Pua made his point from his political view. Whether he is wrong or write, whether Prasarana can take the risk or not – the public needs to be part of the consultation & decision making.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  3. obviously the legal people related to the mrt project didn’t do much homework, even transit didn’t do much in this aspect either, this goes the same with those who designed putra lrt. I suppose we all assumed that were no such amendments, because we looked to putra lrt when it came to this matter.

    Or Tony Phua is making baseless claims.

    I would think the solicitors are the lazy culprit.

    1. @Slam

      Thanks for your comment. Actually, TRANSIT did try to find the National Land Code online, unfortunately we could not find it, even though we went to the Laws of Malaysia website run by the Attorney General’s Office, as well as the websites of the Malaysian Parliament and the Bar Council.

      We even took a trip to our local bookstore but the NLC was not available.

      Is that a coincidence? Maybe we should have tried harder as well.

      But we take your point … if the wakil rakyat aren’t taking care of their responsibility to know Malaysia’s laws, then it is up to the rakyat themselves.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  4. Finally someone had shed some light on this matter. If Tony Pua is indeed correct in this issue, then it clears the way for underground railways to be built without acquiring the land above.

    The AG should seriously look into this matter and clarify.

    1. @Chelvam

      When you say AG do your refer to the Auditor General or the Attorney General? Because according to Zulkifli of Prasarana, they already talked to the Attorney General’s office over a few months and were told that land acquisition was necessary.

      A statement of clarification from the Attorney General would be helpful. So would having MPs bring this up in the next session of Parliament.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  5. Huh.. the AG, solicators & the rest of gomen legal advisors are really in a bad light due to their ignorance, lack of knowledge and quietness pertaining this mysterious amended land code, which is indeed very positive, as land and underground serve completely different purposes.

    More puzzling, when someone try to find the amended land code but not openly available.

    Whatever side of views, it does not matter if we already have this law – fundamentally!

    The public just wish to know the truth and the basis of acquisition rationale – law, redevelopment (commercialization), safety, politics or what?? Than we shall collect evidence, argue, debate, negotiate, compromise etc on this narrow scope rather than everybody throwing towels and guessing the motives..

    PM’s Najib should put the legal section some NKRA as well, such as mesmerizing every single bills & laws by head!

    1. Maybe they should look into having Google or someone digitize all the books and laws so that we may search through them.

      1. @Bob Dylan

        The Laws of Malaysia are available in various places online, such as the Parliament website, Attorney General’s website, Bar Council website and other sources.

        Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

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