It’s an abuse of power and the government of the day must have the willpower to rectify the mess created by its predecessors.
This is the view of local government expert Derek Fernandez over the compulsory acquisition of land in Bukit Kiara in 1976 to set up the National Botanical Gardens – a plan which never materialised.
“If the acquisition back in the 70s was for a public purpose, then to alienate land to private developers over the years is an abuse of power,” he said in reference to land in the area being alienated to private entities, including recreation clubs and housing developers.
“The government should do something to rectify the situation as the person whose land was acquired had been cheated.”
“He or she has been deprived of the benefits of that land allegedly for a public purpose, when it instead enriched others.
Fernandez was commenting on Twentytwo13‘s report on the Bukit Kiara fiasco which has seen land in the area carved up for other purposes for close to 40 years.
“If land has been acquired and is not being used for its intended purpose, it should be given back to whom it was taken from.
“It is morally wrong and an abuse of power to misuse acquisition powers to take away land for public purposes and then enrich others by allowing them to own the land and use it for non-public purposes,” said Fernandez.
He said while the Land Acquisition Act is silent on matters pertaining to abandonment of land for a public purpose after it has been acquired, Fernandez said it depends on interpretation.
“I am not a judge but it depends how you read the Act. But the justification of the acquisition of private property in this case was for a public purpose. If that purpose ceases to exist, then the land is not justified to be acquired and it should be offered back to the person you took it from.”
He said although this it is not expressly stated in the law, it is essentially the spirit of the law if you adopt a purposive approach to interpretation.
“The new government has a chance to undo everything. They can declare that the subdivision of land over the years was fraudulent and an abuse of power.”
“All it takes is a brave judge to declare that any land alienated through abuse and fraud is a nullity,” he added.
“It is not that difficult. It all boils down to if the government of the day has the willpower to do so,” Fernandez said.