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Ulu Yam land frauds – Azmi should get Land Offices to “buck up” and “clean up” to end injustices and malpractices of the Adorna, post-Adorna and Adorna-like cases in land law and administration
(Parliament, Thursday) : Two days ago, I had issued a statement calling on the Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid to stop sleeping on his job as he had neither done nor said a single word in his three years as Minister in charge of the land portfolio about the gross injustice of the land law which allowed forgery and fraudulent issue and fraudulent transfer of land titles, with hundreds of landowners who have become victims running into tens or even hundreds of millions of ringgit.
It is common sense that an innocent purchaser cannot obtain good title from an impostor, impersonator or forger. Very importantly, a forger cannot pass title by using a fraudulently procured document of title so that even a subsequent innocent purchaser does not get any good title.
However, in land law, as a result of the 2001 Federal Court decision in Adorna Properties Sdn Bhd v Boonsom Bunyanit, there is now a shocking exception – with Section 340 of the National Land Code (NLC) interpreted to favour innocent buyers of land transferred through forgery or fraud, which has destroyed the integrity of land titles and the sanctity of property, leaving the original owners without any means to recover their land.
When Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi became Prime Minister, he issued a ”wake up call” to all land offices telling them to buck up to do justice to the rightful landowners.
Why has Azmi as the Minister in charge of the land office in the past three years failed to take any action to end the gross injustice in the Adorna case, at least to stop any post-Adorna development with hundreds of landowners falling victim to fraudsters, forgers, impostors and impersonators becoming the “new Adornas” by amending the National Land Code?
I have today another batch of cases involving gross injustices in land administration – involving some 280 plots of land, both residential and agricultural, which changed hands without the knowledge of the landowners in Ulu Yam, Selangor.
Low Kim Chai and 15 other landowners in Ulu Yam are among the complainants that their plots were transferred to family members and relatives of a local MCA leader and another former village head without their knowledge.
Their predicaments were quite similar with the 18 landowners in Kapar, where plots of land given to them under the Rancangan Buku Hijau (Green revolution) were transferred to a local MCA Datuk without their knowledge (Malay Mail cover story, 19 March 2005).
The local land office officials have told the villagers about the bad news but they were unable to give details relating to the respective new landowners. Some of the landowners have made police reports. They have given the names of the suspected MCA leaders to the police. The police were urged to start investigations immediately as the scam involves so many villagers and landowners but there was no response from the police until today.
The victims were subsequently brought to the Selangor Menteri Besar's office as well as the public complaints bureau in Shah Alam. Following the complaint, the letter, Encik Tukiman (the land office chief) confirmed that some of the victims' plots had indeed changed hands but he too failed to give further details except confirming that the name of the alleged MCA local leader Tan Kim Peing was indeed in the list of "new " landowners. But there was no action taken against Tan by either the authority or his party, MCA.
Reports to the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) were also a waste of time and effort, bringing no results.
Azmi should explain why there is so much hanky-panky, abuses of power and even corruption involving the Land Office, which is regarded by Malaysians as one of the government departments topping the list of “most corrupt” departments.
I call on Azmi to give a full statement on these cases of injustices in land administration and law in the country, starting with his reply in Parliament next week during the winding-up of the debate on the Royal Address.
When is Azmi going to implement the Prime Minister’s directive that the Land Office to “buck up” and “clean up” so that it would no more be regarded as one of the top “corrupt” government departments in the country – to end the injustices and malpractices of the Adorna, post-Adorna and Adorna-like cases in land administration.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman