COMPULSORY land acquisition cannot be avoided in a developing state like Sarawak to enable the implementation of development projects.
The acquisition process includes adequate provisions to respect and protect the rights of landowners, according to a statement from Land and Survey Sarawak director Datu Sudarsono Osman, clarifying the recent massive land acquisition in the areas of Muara Tebas and Sejingkat.
He said land acquisition inquiry is a legal process which looks into three matters — area of land, quantum of compensation and apportionment of compensation.
He added that landowners were requested to attend the inquiry during which they had the rights to raise questions if in doubt.
“Any landowner who disagrees with the decisions made during the inquiry has the right to appeal to the court for determination. The government will abide by the decision of the court. Land acquisition inquiry is not merely an administrative action or an effort to test the water or the response from the land owner as alleged.”
Sudarsono explained that the Comparable Method of Valuation is used to determine the quantum of compensation.
“It is the main method for valuing land; land sales and the vicinity of the acquired land are gathered and analysed. Once an amount is reached, adjustments for factors, affecting the value such as locality, accessibility, size and many more, are made.
“The analysis covers all market land transactions, evidence irrespective of whether they are of high or low sales. This method of determining the market value for land through comparison is the main method adopted and accepted in this country and globally.”
He explained that the 2010 land acquisition included land under Section 47 as well as land that were not.
For land clogged, the date of valuation is the date of imposition of Section 47 or section 48 of the Land Code whichever is earlier. The details of the compensation would be revealed to the respective landowners during the land inquiry, he said.
Sudarsono pointed out that many of the affected landowners were mere speculators, hoping to profit from the situation.
He said it was obvious these landowners were hoping for a windfall in the event the government agreed to renew the land tiles and release the land from Section 47.
He added that it was not fair to blame the government when they were fully aware of the laws and their implications.
The land inquiry in 2010 for those parcels of land affected by the compulsory acquisition within Bako Peninsula has been on-going since October 4 and will end in November.
Meanwhile, DAP Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong argued that though the formula for the compensation was lawful, it was an unfair law that should have no place in the land code in a fair and just society.
“Compensation is based on the price in 1973 and it is legitimate,” she said, adding that it would be the government’s line of defence.
“They have to follow the law. Law is law but when people are involved, it should be executed with a tinge of humanity.”
She appealed to the government to give the landowners fair compensation based on the current market value instead of that of 1973.
Land purchased before 1973 will receive a payoff of RM40,500 while those after 1973 will receive RM80,000 or RM100,000.
Based on this formula, Yong wondered why the government was being harsh with its own people who elected it to take care of them.
In 2010, about 3,000 parcels of land have been acquired, prompting Yong to ask whether there is really a need for such a massive acquisition.
“People on the whole would not disagree if their land is being acquired for public purposes,” she said, adding that true intention of acquisition should be made clear to the landowners.
“What the people fear is that the acquired land would be left stale for many years to come or in later years, sold to private companies or individuals.”
Yong appealed to the government to heed the plight of the landowners, saying many of them depended on the land to give them bread and water.
Eight hundred lots have been released through Government Gazette Number 192, dated January 22, 1981 while 182 lots were released through Government Gazette Number 291 in January 22, 2009, making a total of 982 lots so far.