LRT project: Let affected land owners renew their land leases since project is postponed — Chong

Chong showing the map of the proposed LRT project lines during a press conference this afternoon.

KUCHING, Sept 30: Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Chong Chieng Jen is urging the state government to unfreeze the land lease renewal of landowners affected by the shelved Light Rail Transport (LRT) project.

He told reporters that in the past couple of months, he had received up to 50 complaints from landowners, mostly of land along Jalan Kuching-Serian, who had their applications to renew their land leases rejected by the Land and Survey Department: The reason given was that their land had been earmarked by the state government for development of the shelved LRT project line.

Chong reasoned that since Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg had announced that the project had been shelved indefinitely, there was no reason for the state government to freeze the landowners’ applications to renew their land leases.

“This is causing a lot of concern and anxiety to the owners. As such, we call upon the state government to unfreeze these lands,” he told a press conference at the state Democratic Action Party (DAP) headquarters here this afternoon.

Chong said because the plots along the shelved LRT project line were along the main road, the value of the land could fetch up to RM2 million per acre. Even when only a small portion of the land would be affected by the project, the entire plot could not get its lease renewed, he lamented.

“I call upon the state government to act promptly and fairly to the landowners. This is a matter of autonomy and the state government should not abuse its power and autonomy in this respect. I deem this as an abuse of power,” said Chong.

He added that if the landowners failed to renew their land leases upon expiry, their lands would be taken by the state government without any compensation.

“I’m sure many more landowners might be affected. These 50 or so landowners happened to know of this issue because they had applied to renew their land leases with the Land and Survey Department and received letters of rejection.

“I’m afraid that those who have not applied for their land leases to be renewed might not know that this is happening to their land,” stressed Chong. — DayakDaily