Use state power to forfeit land to safeguard public interest

Today Selangor Menteri Besar DS Amiruddin Shaari revealed that the Yip Chee Seng (Lot 4219) factory that caused water contamination and water disruption to over 1 million over households in Selangor was operating on his own land, but the owner had failed to submit planning approval.

Planning approval is known as ‘Kebenaran Merancang’ (KM) in local council terms requiring land owners to get building approvals before erecting factories and commencing business.

But the question is, why had the land owner failed to submit a KM all this while? As many netizens have pointed out, why is there a factory near the river?

So we have to ask the government,  is Yip Chee Seng operating on agricultural land? Has he failed (or refused) to convert the land from agriculture to industry to avoid paying higher quit rent?

Surely if he bothered to go through the costly process of converting the land from agriculture to industry with payment of additional premiums and higher annual quit rent, Yip Chee Seng would have also applied for KM to erect the factory, but he did not.

The Menteri Besar has rightly directed the Gombak Land office to issue the landowner notice 7A under the National Land Code (NLC). This is a breach of land use under Section 127 of the NLC. If the land owner still refuses to rectify the status, then the state government has powers to forfeit the land.

This power of the state government is key to ensure no unscrupulous land owner abuses the land, as in this case that caused an environmental catastrophe. The power to forfeit the land as enshrined in the NLC should be used to protect wider public interest against irresponsible private entities.

Sivarajan
PSM Secretary General
5/9/2020.

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