Malaysia

We will stop MRT work, say Jalan Sultan owners

By Yow Hong Chieh
February 27, 2012
Latest Update: February 28, 2012 12:12 am

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 27 — Jalan Sultan landowners said today they will resort to “physically” stopping construction of the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (KVMRT) tunnel under the road if necessary.

Committee for the Preservation of Jalan Sultan chairman Stanley Yong said they would first stop the Klang Bus Stand, UDA Ocean and Plaza Warisan from being demolished as the three buildings were the “gateway” to the historic street.

“Physically, we have to stop it,” he told reporters at Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) here.

But he declined to elaborate on the plan, saying that details would be revealed in time.

Yong also refuted MRT Corp’s claim that all but two landowners have agreed to the mutual agreement proposed by the KVMRT project owner, noting that none of them had inked such an agreement.

MRT Corp chief executive Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid said on Friday that only two landowners had turned down its mutual agreement.

The mutual agreement would allow the landowners to retain property rights but will require them to vacate their lots for six months to allow tunnelling work to be carried out.

Azhar (picture) had also warned that MRT Corp would have no choice but to allow the government to proceed with compulsory land acquisition of the affected lots in the bustling Chinatown area if owners did not sign the agreement by month’s end.

But Yong today stressed that the Lands and Mines Department (KPTG) should suspend its proposed acquisition of Jalan Sultan lots so that landowners will not feel pressured during talks with MRT Corp.

“If negotiations are to be fair and square, owners should not be subjected to fear or any kind of interference...,” he said.

“Every time they receive a document from KPTG to attend hearings, owners cannot even continue their normal lives.”

The KLSCAH secretary-general pointed out that the mutual agreement was “no different from acquisition” as owners will only be allowed to keep their properties if MRT Corp certifies them as being safe for occupancy.

Yong said Jalan Sultan landowners will present their case to the prime minister along with signatures collected by some 300 NGOs in the hope that Datuk Seri Najib Razak will agree to realign the KVMRT route.

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 KVMRT 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 have 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.

The multibillion ringgit MRT, meant to ease traffic congestion in the Klang Valley, is Malaysia’s most expensive infrastructure project to date.