Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, 24th December 2008: 

Najib "No freehold" bombshell - who are the "spanner throwers"? 

Deputy Prime Minister and UMNO Deputy President Datuk Seri Najib Razak dropped a bombshell at the National Land Council meeting yesterday – that it is unconstitutional for state governments to issue freehold titles to new villages, kampong tersusun and other purposes, impacting directly on the plans of Pakatan Rakyat state governments of Perak and Penang.

The Perak Pakatan Rakyat State government had announced within a month of being in power after the March 8 "political tsunami" that freehold titles would be issued to new villages and kampong tersusun, affecting some 149,000 people living in 349 planned and 134 new villages in the state.

The Penang Pakatan Rakyat State Government had also announced that residential leasehold landowners in the state could apply for their property to be converted to freehold status and earlier this month, that some 20,000 owners of low and medium-cost flats developed on state land need not pay a premium to convert their leasehold titles to freehold status.

There is controversy as to whether Najib is right that Article 91(5) of the Constitution and the National Land Code constitute a bar on the state governments from issuing freehold titles without the approval of the National Land Council.

However two questions come to mind from Najib's "no freehold" bombshell:

Firstly, why has the Federal Government taken eight months to respond to the publicly-announced intentions of the Perak state government to issue freehold titles to new villages and kampong tersusun and the Penang state government with regard to residential leasehold landowners?

Secondly, who are the real parties who played the role of "throwing spanners" in the works by the Perak and Penang state government to issue freehold titles – are they Umno, MCA, Gerakan and other BN component parties?

What is the stand of the BN component parties on the issue of freehold titles to new villages and kampong tersusun in Perak and residential leasehold owners in Penang? Let Umno, MCA, Gerakan and all the other BN component parties declare publicly their stand on this issue.

* Lim Kit Siang,  DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor