MALAYSIANS are shocked by the revelation of alleged abuse of power by the previous administration which enabled a company to develop two plots of government land in Medan Imbi, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur.
On social media, many are calling for the authorities to not allow the company to buy the land as part of a settlement.
The land was previously a green area with a playground and fruit stalls.
StarMetro reported about the shady development on March 6, 2017, while it was still under construction.
It is learnt that the company is related to a prominent underworld figure in Kuala Lumpur.
Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad on Wednes-day disclosed that the combined area of 0.145ha on Lot 568 and Lot 716, which has been turned into a six-storey office building and a fruit stall respectively, was granted the necessary approvals by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), despite the land belonging to the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur Lands and Mines Office (PTG).
Khalid explained that there were minutes that showed the former Federal Territories Minister had instructed DBKL staff to “handle the matter”.
He said the company had ignored DBKL’s eviction notice to vacate the premises by Jan 10 but was given until the end of the month to suggest a solution, one of which is to buy the land at the market rate and pay the fines, failing which the government would proceed to claim the land back.
Many on Facebook expressed their anger at the turn of events.
Sridevan Sriniwass commented that the authorities cannot right the wrong by asking the owner to pay up.
“Regular people get their illegal structures demolished. Just because underworld figures are involved, they are getting it easy and cheap,” he said.
Terence Heng said it was unfair to allow the company to close the case just by buying the land.
“The company must also be charged. There must be an element of corruption in the transaction,” he said.
Siew Hoong Wong said the authorities were setting a dangerous precedent.
“Next, someone will build a mega-mall on government land and later force the government to sell the land. The price can always be talked (over) in private,” he said.
Some people on social media also suggested solutions to the problem.
Chan Cwy said the owner should be summoned while Ganesan Suppiah said the structures should be demolished and its owner charged.
Sidhu Sidhu said the property should be seized and auctioned.
Misni Misran pointed out that the anti-corruption body should look into the mess as “somebody must have approved this building”.
There were also those who reminisced about the time when the land was still a green area filled with trees and a playground.
Daniel Tan said he used to play at the playground in his younger days.
“Each time I pass by, it brings me back to my childhood memories.”
Evelyn Lim also recalled the playground on the site.
“There were some beautiful trees. Now it is replaced by a concrete jungle,” he said.
Khalid said returning the land back to the way it was is definitely an option
“I would like to clarify that if we sell the land it does not absolve the company of any wrongdoing,’’ he said.
“If we sell the land, and that is a big IF, it will be based on the current market value and the fees that the company will have to pay to the local authorities.
“And having paid what is due, it will not excuse him or absolve him from any form of investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC),’’ added Khalid.
“The land is under PTG, and whether they are willing to sell or not is up to PTG. Since the land is PTG’s, they can claim the building too,’’ he said.
On the residents’ request for the land to be converted back into a playground, Khalid said that option was open too.
Meanwhile, Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil said allowing the building owner to buy back the land is akin to saying that the entire deal was above board.
“It sends the wrong message because it gives the impression that anyone who builds a structure on land that is not theirs can
subsequently claim to buy the
land at a rate which is also not fair,’’ he said.
Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng urged the owner to do what is right.
“Please do the right thing and return the land back to the people,’’ Lim said.
“We should never condone illegal activities. If I was the owner, I would return the fruit stalls and relinquish the structures immediately,’’ he added.
“DBKL should demolish the structures and put up a plaque commemorating the entire fiasco as a message to everyone that we will not condone any form of corruption and abuse of power,’’ Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai said.
“I have seen this happen in Hong Kong and how the ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption) will demolish structures that were built without the proper papers,’’ he said, adding that DBKL should do the same.
Bukit Bintang MP Fong Kui Lun said he was glad that action was finally being taken against the owner.
“A few MPs have been highlighting this matter since 2016 but nothing was done, and the structures started operating in the middle of last year.
“I have raised the issue in Parliament several times, but the former Federal Territories Minister avoided answering the questions,” he said.