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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Stop BN to stop land grabs in Johor


Land grabs in Johor started in 1992 with the then Menteri Besar Muhyiddin Yassin, now deputy prime minister, acquiring a total of 32 million acres.
COMMENT
By Chua Jui Meng
The only way for Pengerang villagers to prevent from being “robbed” of their land is to dump the Barisan Nasional Johor and federal governments in the coming general election.
Only a change in both governments can Johoreans put a stop to BN-Umno leaders’ misuse and abuse of the Land Acquisition Act 1960 to enrich themselves, their families and cronies.
Pakatan Rakyat’s PKR, DAP and PAS leaders were present at the Sept 30, 2012, Himpunan Hijau rally in Pengerang to protest the massive acquisition of land for the Refinery & Petrochemical Integrated Complex (Rapid).
We care for your (Pengerang folk) interest. But where were your MP (Azalina Othman) and assemblymen? Where was your Menteri Besar (Ghani Othman)?
Eviction has already started in stages but Ghani has yet to reveal the quantum of compensation for affected villagers and also alternative accommodation.
The Rapid project will wipe out 17 kampungs whose residents are mostly Malays. The 180-year-old Pekan Pengerang, a Chinese town, will suffer the same fate.
Pengerangites will lose their traditional livelihood and their environment will be highly polluted.
Not only will you lose your land, the cemeteries of your loved ones will also be exhumed.
The land grabs in Johor started in 1992 with the then Menteri Besar Muhyiddin Yassin, now deputy prime minister, acquiring a total of 32 million acres.
The BN-Umno’s simple modus operandi is to use the Act to grab land cheaply for property development.
Ultimately, the properties are sold at sky high prices, affordable only to rich Singaporeans and non-Johoreans.
In Pengerang, Rapid and the property development will not benefit Johoreans.
Project rejected in Selangor
Rapid was first proposed to the Pakatan-led Selangor government by Everwish Sdn Bhd on behalf of Taiwan’s Kuo Kuang Corporation which failed to secure an extension of the operation of its 52-year-old refinery in Kaoshiung from the Taiwan government.
The Taiwan government had rejected the request for an extension of operations due to public protest that the refinery posed polluting, public health and safety hazards.
After due consideration by the Selangor government, the proposed Rapid in Pulau Indah was rejected in February 2011.
This was despite a significant Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) of RM10 billion, the creation of 2,600 new jobs and 20,000 indirect employment opportunities.
Everwish also projected that Rapid had a potential to earn foreign exchange reserves of RM13 billion per year.
Unlike BN-Umno leaders who value revenue more than public health and safety, Pakatan leaders and governments will ensure that only sustainable projects and industries are approved.
The Malays are beginning to see through Umno’s 55 years of misleading the community to enrich its leaders, their families and cronies.
Johor Malays the poorest
Malay Chamber of Commerce Malaysia president Syed Ali Alattas had lamented that the Malays in Johor are the poorest in Malaysia, with cost of living skyrocketing due to the significant presence of foreigners (Singaporeans) residing in the state.
He also pointed to the fact that 80% of the former Malay-majority owned Iskandar land was now foreign-owned.
Syed Ali said even the Malays in Kelantan were richer because one can buy more with the ringgit in the east coast state.
The Malays can buy a bungalow for RM200,000 in Kelantan but the same would cost RM1.5 million in Johor.
In the past two decades, thousands of acres of Malay ancestral and reserve land had been acquired by Muhyiddin and now the Ghani-led Johor government using the Land Acquisition Act.
Chua Jui Meng is PKR vice-president and Johor state chief. He is also a former MCA vice-president and an ex-Cabinet member.

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