There was fraud, but innocent buyers should have their names cleared

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on July 30, 2018 - August 05, 2018.
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LIM Lip Eng, the MP for Kepong, was all fired up about highlighting an alleged land grab under the previous government. In an interview with The Edge, Lim highlights aspects of case and what he hopes will be the outcome.

 

Is there more land that has been sold in this manner and is what you have found the tip of the iceberg?

Lim: The 64 pieces of the land sold by Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more (such cases) in the Wilayah Land Office. There’s federal-owned land, federal agency-owned land like police reserve land, reserve land for rumah ibadat, that have also been sold to private developers, without tender.

So the one I have highlighted recently — the 80-acre parcel (the 36-acre pond and 44 acres of land in Taman Wahyu was reserved as a flood retention pond for the Northern Kuala Lumpur and Kepong district, but it was sold in 2015 to Utusan Malaysia and Umno-linked company Sun and Sons Sdn Bhd) is land office land and not DBKL land. That is why I say the 64 pieces of land is just the tip of the ice berg, there are many more (such instances occurring) in the land office.

 

What about the premium? We are hearing that in certain instances, no premium was paid.

Yes, in some cases, the premium was not paid but the title was transferred. To me, this is fraud, so the MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) and the police (have to get involved). This is fraud, this is cheating, this is corruption.

But still, some of the owners of the 64 pieces of land are innocent, so I have asked the MACC to clear them and I hope the new FT minister (Khalid Samad) will make the announcement clearing some of the names of the landowners.

 

Is there a rough figure of what all the parcels that have been sold are worth?

It’s in the billions, for sure. This (DBKL land) itself is RM4.28 billion. I will wait for the new FT minister and with him, I think we will clean up the mess in the land office.

 

Is there any money trail as to where the money went to after the land was sold?

There will have to be investigations. Of course, you know how it works — the developer pays less to the government (for the land) and also pays some to corrupt politicians.

And there are middlemen involved.

Whenever (someone in power) comes across land — whether DBKL-owned land or federal government-owned land — and he knows it can be sold, or if someone just approaches with an interest to buy the land, then instead of selling or talking to the one who applied to buy the land, (the people in power) will offer the land to a crony company, telling them, ‘Look, I have this piece of land, how much can you offer?’. And, sometimes, I heard the bidding is just through WhatsApp messages. So, the highest bidder among the cronies will get it.

Then the bidder will be told how much to pay to the government and how much to pay some parties … this is what I heard. It is for the MACC and police to investigate.

 

But what is the actual process? Shouldn’t it be via an open tender, transparent …

I asked the Mayor of KL (Tan Sri Mohd Amin Nordin Abd Aziz) about these 64 pieces of land, whether there was any open tender process, he answered with a question, ‘YB, ini semua mana ada open tender?’ ‘Ini semua arahan menteri … minuted,’ he said.

 

Minuted?

Yes, to whom, for how much.

 

So there is no way the culprits can get off the hook …

The MACC says they have too much on their plate, they have yet to process the data for the 64 pieces of land. Basically, they are bogged down with the 1MDB investigations, so they are very busy. But definitely, they will act on it.

 

What are your hopes with this exposé? Do you hope to uncover more?

Actually, I hope to clear those innocent developers. I want to clear them and I want to go after the crooks.

 

When do you think there will be some closure?

It will take some time. I cannot rush MACC as 1MDB is the mother of all scandals, so I want 1MDB to be settled … And on top of DBKL, we are only talking about Wilayah Persekutuan. What about in the other states? What about Pahang, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka, Johor — what about those state land (which have) been sold, undervalued, without proper tender?

So, I think someone has to dig it all up, bring justice, bring them (the perpetrators) to book. And also, those unscrupulous crooks — be it developers or individuals — they have to pay back, compensate the state.

If we do not punish them, at least get them to pay back, especially now that the national debt is so huge … so pay back.

 

How did you get this list, anyway?

Tengku Adnan gave it to me … They were so sure that they would form the government that at the last session of Parliament, I asked a question, ‘Please tell me after you took office in 2013, how many pieces of land were sold by DBKL, by the KL Land Office, by the FT Ministry and also Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan?’

Tengku Adnan gave me a written reply in Parliament. He said the FT Ministry does not sell land. Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan has got nothing to do with the government, it is a private outfit. He said that he was the chairman. He said only DBKL sold land.

Since 2013, ‘sehingga kini’, March this year, these are the 64 pieces of land sold, and sold to who and what premium was paid etc … he gave it to me. It was a written reply.

All land offices in the (other) states have to come up with a list of what has been sold, who instructed the sale, who acquired it, and how much.

 

 

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