KUALA LUMPUR: The government will try to claim the land in Bukit Chagar for the Rapid Transit System (RTS) project with Singapore before considering to purchase it as the property is purportedly in the name of the Johor Sultan, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
"We have agreed that we will take six months to reconsider the RTS project again or decide on other alternative plans.
"We will reclaim the land (on which RTS is to be built on). If there are any parties that have taken the land, they must have followed due process.
"We have not got the full report, only rumours that the land has been taken by the Sultan of Johor. About the payment, we do not know," said the Prime Minister.
He said this to the media after a Pakatan Harapan presidential council meeting at Yayasan Al-Bukhary here Friday (May 3).
Dr Mahathir was commenting on reports in various portals quoting sources alleging that a plot of land in Bukit Chagar, which the federal government was supposed to own, is now in the name of Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar.
According to the reports, sighting official documents, the 4.5ha plot was one of five lots in Bukit Chagar that Putrajaya received from the Johor government in 2012 as part of a land swap deal to build the Johor Baru Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex (CIQ).
The portals also reported that sources stated that the land was transferred under the previous Barisan Nasional administration sometime between 2017 and 2018.
This means Putrajaya would have to fork out about RM495mil in compensation to acquire the land which it was supposed to own, according to reports.
When asked if the government will buy back the land for the RTS project, Dr Mahathir did not rule it out.
"If he (the Johor Ruler) has paid for it, of course we have to buy back but if he hasn't paid, we won't buy back, it is our land. We require that land for the purpose of constructing necessary buildings," said Dr Mahathir.
He said this has to be done despite the government realising that the RTS - linking Johor Baru and Singapore - would not solve congestion problems between the two countries.
"RTS would not solve the traffic problems. If we build the train, it cannot carry all passengers going to and from Singapore and it cannot carry all motorcycles. And the train is limited in terms of capacity," Dr Mahathir added.
It was reported that the government is committed to continue with the RTS Link project despite asking for a six-month extension from Singapore.
Transport Minister Anthony Loke had said both sides are currently working on a supplementary agreement as Malaysia is looking at options to further reduce the cost.
The project, signed early 2018 during the former Barisan administration, was initially scheduled for construction this year and was expected to be completed by December 2024.