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Monday, June 30, 2014

Putrajaya, Johor on another collision course?


Putrajaya appears to be headed on another collision course with the Johor government, this time on the state's land reclamation that is threatening the Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP) which is overseen by the federal government.

The Transport Ministry is upset at how the land reclamation is being conducted, Kluang MP Liew Chin Tong revealed today.

"Sources from the Transport Ministry revealed to us that the ministry is unhappy about the way reclamation is ongoing and has written officially to Johor state government to express its concern," Liew said in a statement today.

He said this in reference to the land reclamation works at Pulau Ubah, better known as Forest City, in a massive development project near the port which is run by tycoon Syed Mokthar Al-Bukhary.

"Critical as we are towards the way Syed Mokhtar builds his monopolistic business empire, we are acutely aware of the importance of a functioning port to local businesses, large and small, in Johor and beyond.

"We do not want to see thousands of businesses suffering shipment delays and losses only because ship movement to and from PTP is impeded by shallow waters as a consequent of coastal reclamation," Liew said.

He said a site survey conducted last Saturday, with Gelang Patah MP Lim Kit Siang, Johor opposition leader Dr Boo Cheng Hau and PKR representatives also present, showed the reclaimed island to have grown 25-fold since February.

"According to official land search documents obtained from Johor Bahru Land Office, the state government created a 5,000 acre land title on yet-to-be reclaimed coastal waters in the Johor Straits, close to the Second Link.

"Such a large reclamation work in a narrow straits will inevitably increase sediment and pose risk to the operation of PTP when the sea becomes shallower," Liew (left) said.

The massive development project is being spearheaded by China-based Country Garden Holdings Ltd and Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor (KPRJ), a subsidiary of the state government, under the vehicle Country Garden Pacific View Sdn Bhd.

A member of the Council of the Royal Court of Advisers to the Johor Sultan, Daing A Malek Daing A Rahman, is reportedly among the directors in Country Garden Pacific View Sdn Bhd as of February this year.

Singapore has also raised concern

Business news journal The Edge Review reported earlier this month that Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has also raised concern about the land reclamation project near the republic's border with Putrajaya.

This is not the first friction between Putrajaya and the Johor government over land matters.

Earlier this month, the Johor government attempted to introduce legislation to set up a Johor Housing and Real Property Board that would give the Johor sultan executive powers.

The move received flak from federal leaders, including Umno veterans such as former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and former deputy prime minister Musa Hitam, who expressed concern over the blurring of lines between the monarchy and the executive.

The state government eventually caved in to pressure and amended the wording to limit the sultan's role in the bill, which was then passed.


 

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