ACCIM claims MRT abused as front for land grab

By Yow Hong Chieh, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 27 — The country’s largest Chinese business association has accused the regulator and the owner of the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) of abusing the Land Acquisition Act to acquire a prime land bank for property development by “favoured parties”.

In a no-holds barred letter sighted by The Malaysian Insider, the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Malaysia (ACCCIM) told the transport minister that the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) and Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd (Prasarana) should stop the abuse and focus on developing an efficient public transport system instead.

“Since SPAD/Prasarana announced the ‘rail plus property’ model to develop the MRT, the private sector was already apprehensive that they will abuse the Land Acquisition Act to compulsorily acquire large tracts of land under the guise of MRT station needs with the true underlying purpose of parcelling out to favoured parties to develop in unfair competition with the private sector.

“This abuse must be stopped. The private sector does not have any objections if SPAD/Prasarana develops properties around the MRT stations on state land, e.g. RRI land in Sungai Buloh, Malaysia Financial Centre in Sungai Besi, Cochrane Road, etc,” ACCCIM president Tan Sri William Cheng said in a letter to Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha dated this August 22.

The multi-billion project is 51km-long, including 9.5 km of underground tunnels, and stretches from Sungai Buloh to Kajang. Putrajaya has also reserved 43 per cent of the works bill, or RM8 billion in value, for Bumiputera contractors in the country’s most expensive infrastructure project.

Property owners protest against the proposed acquisition of land in Chinatown for the MRT project, in Kuala Lumpur August 9, 2011. — Picture by Jack Ooi
In his letter, Cheng said the private sector was in effect subsidising the MRT, citing the “incredulous” proposal mooted by SPAD and Prasarana to acquire prime land in Bandar Utama after one of ACCCIM’s members, Bandar Utama Development, refused to foot the bill for the proposed station there without compensation.

“The MRT station appears to [have been] surreptitiously moved away from the operating 1 Utama Integrated Transportation Hub and the developer was given the choice to have the station reverted back to its original ideal position if the developer acquiesced to build and surrender the station plus 500 Park & Ride [parking lots], forego any land acquisition compensation and to also build a commercial building.

“Arising from the developer declining to acquiesce to these onerous and unfair demands, an acquisition of five acres of prime Bandar Utama commercial land worth at least RM150 million has been proposed under the guise of building car parks for Park & Ride facilities, which is incredulous,” he said, adding that such tactics could not be condoned.