This website is


 Welcome    Main    Forum    FAQ    Useful Links    Sample Letters   Tribunal  

Questions over land alienation in the Klang Valley
05/03/2005 NST-PROP By Salleh Buang

Thanks to the power of the Press, investigative journalism and increasing awareness of the laws of the nation among people, public horror has rightly been expressed over the ecological destruction - carried out in the name of development - that Shah Alam has suffered.

Selangor has been under the nation’s spotlight since last month for the extensive damage that has been caused to the Bukit Cahaya Seri Alam Agriculture Park. Proudly calling itself “the most developed State in the nation” all these years, Selangor has now fallen from grace, earning the reputation of being the most ineffective State in environmental management.

All the national newspapers as well as electronic media had something to say about it, and a flurry of questions were asked by several quarters. No doubt, some of these were rhetorical, but the majority demanded full and convincing answers.

Regrettably, so far, full and frank disclosure has not been forthcoming. Polite answers were given by senior State officials; some were evasive, while others fuelled even more questions.

The State Government has sent a preliminary report on the affair to the Prime Minister, soon after the matter became national news.

We have been told that the PM rejected the report as inadequate, and a senior Cabinet minister has confirmed that a more factual explanation was required.

Just as the Cabinet wants, members of the general public too want to be given the full picture.

The national daily that first broke the story of this tragic environmental catastrophe in Shah Alam posed several tough questions in its continuing reports. However, I shall focus on only three issues:

First, is it really possible that in this age of instant communication, every member of the State Government machinery is ignorant about an area as large as 1,200ha being felled and cleared, day in and day out, with the use of bulldozers?

This is not an area several hundred kilometres away in deep, impenetrable jungle. It is practically next door to the Menteri Besar’s Office and close to the State Mosque.

Second, out of the 35 development companies that were alienated plots of the land by the Selangor State Authority, 19 had carried out earthworks even before planning permission was granted. If this is true, were these companies given special dispensation? Were they exempted from the requirements of the law? If they were not, why was no action taken against them?

A statement, purportedly issued by the Permanent Committee on Housing, Building Management and Squatters (Jawatankuasa Tetap Perumahan, Pengurusan Bangunan dan Setinggan), is really perplexing, if not outright ridiculous and silly.

The committee said that it “is not sure about the names of the companies” that were alienated these lands, and added, “we need more time to find out who was given which lot”. Unbelievable!

The third question concerns the substantive environmental law of the nation. The Environmental Quality Act 1974 clearly stipulates that only housing projects covering more than 50ha are required to furnish Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports.

Therefore, the alienation of State land in lots smaller than 50ha must have clearly been aimed at “protecting and shielding” these lucky developers from having to comply with the Act.

Who orchestrated all this? Who devised the strategy? Was this alienation exercise done in good faith? Did it ever take into consideration public interest and the maintenance of sustainable development?

Discretionary power

No one questions the discretionary power of State Authorities to alienate “State land”, a term clearly defined in Section 5 of the National Land Code 1965 (NLC). After all, it is also spelt out clearly in Section 42, when read together with Section 76.

Section 42 deals with “powers of disposal” while Section 76 explains the “meaning of alienation”. Section 43 then goes on to describe “the persons and bodies” to whom alienation can be done.

Individuals come under paragraph (a), while companies fall under paragraph (b).

The companies that benefited from the land alienation exercise in Shah Alam recently fall under Section 43(b) of the NLC. They, the favoured few, now have to face the public’s wrath.

The question that must be asked is this: Was the selection of these lucky 35 companies done openly and fairly? Members of the public would certainly like to know more about the identity and background of these lucky corporations that, having received precious bounties from the State, immediately thumbed their corporate noses at the law and began their criminal assault on the frail environment.

It is indeed a pity that the NLC has never seen fit to impose a limit on the size of land a State Authority can alienate. Everything is left to its discretion. The State Authority decides who shall receive, how large an area it shall be, what terms and conditions are to be imposed and even the category of use the land will be subject to. Even the Federal Government cannot interfere - at least as far as the text of the NLC goes.

While Section 5 of the NLC simply defines the term “State Authority” to mean “the Ruler or Governor of the State”, in practical terms it refers to the State Executive Council (Exco). In simple language, land alienation is solely within the discretion of the Menteri Besar and his Exco members - people who collectively wield political power in the State.

It needs to be emphasised, and these political leaders need to be reminded, that this “discretionary power” of the State Authority is not absolute. Like all discretionary power, it is “fettered” or limited, and one of these fetters is the principle of bona fide.

Land alienation must be for the general good of the people, the citizens. It should never serve as a tool or an instrument to enrich just a few, more so if its exercise results in causing misery and heartache to the public at large.

A good friend of mine, a seasoned land surveyor and one-time president of the Association of Land Surveyors Malaysia (Pejuta), once said at a forum I attended that “land is not the absolute property of the State Authority. It belongs to God, and the State Authority is merely a Trustee. So, fulfill the trust properly and honestly, for you will surely be held accountable, if not later in your lifetime, then in the Hereafter”.

These memorable words were said more than a decade ago, but I still remember them clearly, as if they were spoken only yesterday. In uttering them, this gentleman echoed a truth etched in all our hearts. The sad thing is that simple, honest truth carries no premium today.

Salleh Buang is senior advisor of a company specialising in competitive intelligence. He is also active in training and public speaking and can be reached at


Main   Forum  FAQ  Useful Links  Sample Letters  Tribunal  

National House Buyers Association (HBA)

No, 31, Level 3, Jalan Barat, Off Jalan Imbi, 55100, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: 03-21422225 | 012-3345 676 Fax: 03-22601803 Email:

© 2001-2009, National House Buyers Association of Malaysia. All Rights Reserved.