KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 19 — Jalan Sultan landowners insisted today they will not give up their land for the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (KVMRT) project and suggested the mega-project be realigned to a street nearby.
“(We) object fully to the construction through Jalan Sultan and agree with the realignment of the MRT project at Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock,” the Committee of Preserving Jalan Sultan and Jalan Bukit Bintang co-president Yong Yew Wei told reporters.
Landowners and “around 250 NGOs from all over Malaysia” gathered for today’s launch of the Save Jalan Sultan signature campaign.
“The origins and development of KL began in Jalan Sultan. Why on earth today would they want to destroy Jalan Sultan? We have to object to this,” Yong said today in his address here.
“We have to protect this gateway to KL. Acquiring this big piece of land will adversely affect the economic, tourist, and social life of KL folk,” he added.
Yong said the proposed alternative route would see the line rerouted from Jalan Sultan to Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock and include integrated terminals with the LRT Pasar Seni station and KTMB line and another with the Puduraya bus terminal.
He added the alternative line would reap more benefits in terms of attracting more tourists to Chinatown, reviving Plaza Rakyat beside Puduraya, improving inter-transport connectivity and saving the heritage structures along Jalan Sultan and Jalan Bukit Bintang.
“We are ready to see the minister in charge and even the prime minister himself regarding this issue,” Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) president Tan Yew Sing said today.
“We have support from the public. This is not a Chinese problem; this is a Malaysian problem. Not only a particular race is involved,” he added.
Tan pointed out the mass endorsement of the signature campaign is “vital not only for the success of landowners, but also to build confidence”.
“With support, we will continue to campaign until we achieve success,” he said.
The Malaysian Insider reported in December that landowners in Imbi have agreed to surrender a portion of their underground land rights to MRT Corp for tunnelling work.
The agreement appeared to be a coup for MRT Corp chief executive Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid, who is under pressure to resolve ongoing land acquisition issues which he has warned may delay the completion of the MRT by up to six months.
The dispute began soon after landowners in Chinatown, Imbi and Bukit Bintang were informed in mid-2011 that the government would acquire all lots lying 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 said landowners could then apply for stratum titles but added there was no guarantee Putrajaya would return 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 have mounted a high-profile campaign marked by numerous protests, signature drives and accusations that Putrajaya was conducting a “land grab” in order to defray project costs.
The RM50 billion MRT, meant to ease traffic congestion in the Klang Valley, is Malaysia’s most expensive infrastructure project to date.
Construction of the Sungai Buloh-Kajang (SBK) line of the MRT will begin in the second or third quarter of next year and is scheduled to be completed by end-2016, with services commencing in January 2017.
The SBK line will cover a distance of 51km, of which 9.5km — including seven of the 31 stations — will be underground.