Promise no surface land grabbed for MRT, Pua tells MRT Co
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 14 — DAP MP Tony Pua today demanded that MRT Co issue a blanket decision for all land acquisition matters involving the Klang Valley MRT project, apart from its pledge to leave Jalan Sultan properties untouched.
The Petaling Jaya Utara MP said no surface land should be grabbed to make way for tunnelling work for the multibillion ringgit rail project while underground land should only be acquired strictly to construct MRT stations or its ancillary facilities like air vents and access points.
“No parcel of land should be compulsorily acquired for the purposes of profit generation by the government,” Pua (picture) said in a statement here.
After months of controversy, new MRT project owner MRT Co promised Jalan Sultan traders yesterday their properties would remain untouched and would not be acquired if they agreed to vacate their premises for six months during construction on the railway line.
Transport regulators, the government and former project owner Prasarana had previously stopped short of issuing such a guarantee to the traders, who have now started a large movement comprising all affected stakeholders to protest the acquisition threat.
But in a separate statement yesterday, MRT Co appeared to offer no such guarantee to Bukit Bintang traders, who have also taken their fight to the fore.
The corporation said while it would not take away the traders’ land rights, it would have to clear the surface area and dig down in order to build the proposed underground MRT station.
“We will compensate for any loss of business in the interim and for any demolished buildings. Further, we are open to an agreement where we will re-build shops for the owners to return to in return for acquisition,” the corporation promised.
The Malaysian Insider understands, however, that the traders are strongly opposed to any destruction of properties above ground and still prefer a realignment of the MRT’s Sungai Buloh-Kajang line.
Pua said the about-turn for Jalan Sultan properties was tantamount to a concession from the government that it was possible for underground stratum land to be acquired for tunnelling purposes under the National Land Code without affecting ownership and surface land use.
“As highlighted many times during the controversy, the National Land Code 1965 had been specifically amended in 1990 to allow for the acquisition of underground land without affecting surface property by inserting Part Five (A) (section 92A to 92G) under Clause 3.
“The amendment enables the disposal of ‘underground land’, which can then either be alienated or leased for the use to construct tunnels, car parks and to lay pipes,” he said.
Pua added that civil society should bask in the victory of yesterday’s announcement for Jalan Sultan traders, saying this was yet another proof that public pressure could affect major changes in government policy decisions.
He cited the formation of the parliamentary select committee for electoral reforms and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s recent promise to reform press and security laws as examples of the government pandering to the wishes of civil society groups.
“The above actions also prove that civil and political pressure works to correct the wrongs and abuses, and hence more Malaysians must speak up and take part in activities to defend their basic rights and entitlements,” he said.