Jalan Sultan landowners getting paid leave, says MOF
KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 — Putrajaya said today its offer to guarantee the income of Chinatown landowners while they vacated their premises for Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) tunnelling work is like giving them a paid holiday.
Project owners MRT Corp has made an offer to Jalan Sultan property owners to vacate their premises here for six months, guaranteeing there would be no land acquisition and that any damage will be repaired and loss of income compensated.
The Finance Ministry confirmed today that two landowners are still holding out, with the rest saying they will either accept the offer or sell their land to MRT Corp.
“The compensation will guarantee income during the six months. This is like giving them a paid holiday. They don’t have to work but get paid,” Deputy Minister Datuk Awang Adek told Parliament.
The dispute over land acquisition began soon after landowners in Chinatown, Imbi and Bukit Bintang were informed in mid-2011 that the government would acquire lots above the MRT tunnel as owners’ rights extend to the centre of the earth under the law.
Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) chief executive Mohd Nur Kamal has said landowners could then apply for stratum titles but added there was no guarantee Putrajaya would re-alienate the surface land back to them.
Critics have questioned the need for compulsory acquisition of both surface and underground land as the National Land Code 1965 was amended in 1990 to allow underground land to be acquired without affecting surface rights.
Unhappy landowners had mounted a high-profile campaign marked by many protests, signature drives and claims that Putrajaya was conducting a “land grab” in order to defray project costs.
But MRT Corp’s latest offer has been agreed to by the majority of landowners, likely clearing one of several hurdles the RM50 billion megaproject has faced since being announced in June 2010.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak also said two weeks ago the government was prepared to declare buildings in Jalan Sultan as heritage sites, assuring owners that their shophouses will not be affected by the planned infrastructure project.