ONE of the great mysteries of urban development and local governance is how land titles change. Such is the case of a plot in Taman Aman, Petaling Jaya, that was once classified as open space and a utility reserve but is now in the hands of a developer.
A proposed 18-unit, three-storey terrace housing development has been approved on this piece of land which is located next to the Paramount LRT station. That land, identified as Lot PT11, allegedly belongs to Sri Aman Development Sdn Bhd.
I have said that the land title was suspect because it was for an area originally demarcated as open space. The developer came forward with copies of their own land title to show that the land really belonged to them and explained that they inherited the land title when they bought over a Tanda Baik Sdn Bhd in 1992.
Meanwhile, Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim said the land was never open space to begin with but declined to elaborate how the land title was given to the developer. He said, “It is a long story but the land was never officially gazetted as open space.”
I will agree that this matter is a long story, so let’s get started.
The Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (MPPJ) had on 12 Aug 1993 approved a layout plan for Tanda Baik but made no reference whatsoever to any land title. This is an anomaly because the officers scrutinising the plans must ensure that the project conforms to the size and boundaries stated within the land title.
In the letter accompanying this layout plan, it states that the project was approved by MPPJ but makes no mention as to which council meeting this approval came from.
Approval for any development must be granted after the matter is deliberated at a local council meeting and the decision endorsed at the council’s Full Board meeting at the end of the month. Neither the council president nor the town planning department director who signed this letter have the authority to approve a project.
Where the land was not identified previously, a Selangor government gazette dated 22 Sept 1995 identifies a Lot PT11 and PT12 as both State Land and Open Space. That same gazette also converts Lot PT11 and PT12 for use as an LRT transmission line and a station.
But later, the Selangor government contradicts itself in a gazette dated 13 Mar 2003 where it declared that Lots PT9, PT10 and PT11 would be acquired from the owner, Tanda Baik, for the purpose of ‘Projek Perumahan Rakyat’ or a public housing project.
Regardless of which gazette we take as the valid one, both gazettes invalidate the developer’s ownership of the land as one says it is state land while another says that the land is to be acquired from the developer for the purpose of building a public housing project.
To add to the confusion, there is also a TNB transmission line running through Lot PT11 parallel to the Putra LRT line. Since Lot PT11 is presently unoccupied, people have sometimes used the place as a dumping ground.
But instead of the developer responding to prevent trespassers on the land, those who came by were TNB officers who promptly issued a warning letter to one of the contractors.
In the warning letter, TNB identifies the area as Menara 10-11-12 and that the area is “…di dalam / bersebelahan rezab talian penghantaran voltan tinggi TNB” (in or next to a reserve land for high voltage TNB cables). The letter also notes that the contractors’ activities there — earth works within 30 metres of a pylon — was done without TNB consent.
The thing is, the land cannot be both a TNB reserve and privately-owned land.
Dubious land title
Finally, we come to the Lot PT11 land title. That land title has the words “Hakmilik Batal” on the document, which means the land title was nullified. Of course, the developer got that land title subdivided anyway and provided copies to the residents for scrutiny.
On page 3 of each of these subdivided land titles is a small map. That map is supposed to be an extract of a larger survey map that you can find at the Survey Department.
The map states that the survey was done using the Akta Pelan dan Dokumen Tanah dan Lombong (Salinan Fotograf) 1953 (Semakan 1980).
That particular Act is used to survey areas that will be used for mining. But since the land was going to be used for development, the correct law that should have been applied for surveying this piece of land is the Licensed Land Surveyors Act 1958.
There is one more piece of evidence which supports why this land should not be given a title for development.
The law does not permit water bodies to be sold, nor are you supposed to build on top of a drain or river. The land is also right next to a transmission line pylon.
I have maps from 1968 that show a body of water on the area where the developer claims the land to be theirs. Regardless of the evidence in my possession, a simple site visit shows signs of a water body on Lot PT11. There is a drain or small river running through it with earth covering this waterway that feeds the Taman Aman pond.
Why is it so hard to get the authorities to investigate? Why is this issue a “long story” but no effort is taken to explain the details of this long story?
We may never know the answer because the government is not known for explaining anything in detail to the public.
Here’s the thing; if the government insists that everything is above board and the project should continue, then the government should also tell TNB and Putra LRT to remove their structures.
Former MBPJ councillor KW Mak was once asked why he was such a busybody in raising all these matters that had nothing to do with him. He replied, “I took an oath to serve the public.”