DAP Perak explains move to change Chinese leasehold land to freehold

(MMO) – The Perak government’s offer to change leasehold land titles to freehold is not illegal as claimed by Umno, state lawmaker Abdul Aziz Bari asserted today.

A former constitutional law lecturer, Abdul Aziz said giving permanent ownership of the land to Felda settlers and residents of both organised and new villages does not violate the Federal Constitution or run counter to guidelines by the National Land Council (NLC).

“According to the Federal Constitution, land is under the jurisdiction of the state. The law also said that NLC only has an advisory capacity. It does not have the power to make orders.

“NLC can only advise on land matters, but in the end, it depends on the state, whether it wants to implement it or not,” the Perak DAP vice-chairman told a news conference here.

“Therefore, there is no such thing as land owned by the Malays is taken and given to the Chinese or giving freehold land titles is against the law and violates the NLC, as how has gone viral on social media,” he added.

Abdul Aziz Bari, who is also a state executive councillor in charge of education, science, environment and green technology, was responding to state Umno chairman Datuk Saarani Mohamad’s accusation last week that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) state government was creating confusion over land ownership.

Saarani issued a statement reminding the state government to not violate the Federal Constitution by giving land ownership titles for 999 years to new villages.

Saarani said that the procedure is against the law, claiming the NLC has capped the lease term for the land in new villages at 99 years under Section 76 (aa) (iii) of the National Land Code 1965.

Aziz clarified that the PH coalition was merely changing the leasehold title to freehold as promised in its 2018 state election manifesto, which was different from the 999-year land ownership title.

“The people in new villages have been living there since the Malayan Emergency and it will be unjust if we didn’t give them the freehold title.

“We always talk about social justice and I think this is one way of accomplishing it,” the Tebing Tinggi assemblyman said.

He rejected suggestions that giving out freehold titles benefit only one racial community.

“Furthermore, it will not only benefit the Chinese community, but all races. And we have experts saying that giving freehold titles has economic benefits. The price of the land will increase and it will boost the economy,” Aziz said.

The Perak state executive councillor also invited Saarani for a talk to better explain the issues surrounding the land ownership conversion.

“I’m not challenging him to a debate, but rather to talk or have a forum so that he can understand the issue better,” he said.

Aziz also asserted that the state will fulfil its manifesto by giving out the freehold land to those who are eligible.

“The state government is working on the matter and we will announce the good news soon,” he said.