A question of how a private company was able to develop a six-storey office building and several durian kiosks on two plots of government land valued at RM20 million in Medan Imbi, Bukit Bintang, in 2016, without paying any rent or premium.
- Slated to be a park, land previously a playground with some durian stalls, then approved for two-storey restaurant, subsequently changed to six-storey office building and durian kiosk
- Building owner not paying a single sen for land, collecting rental revenue instead
- No set back or parking space, yet building approved
- Company that constructed building asked to explain
- Owner of building told to buy or lose the land, but DAP disagrees letting the owner buy the land
- Company told to vacate land
The company that constructed a building on two lots of land belonging to the government in Medan Imbi, Bukit Bintang, is given up to Jan 31 to give an explanation, said Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad.
He said the decision was taken after the meeting held yesterday to give an opportunity to the company concerned to propose a solution and if no feedback was given further action could be taken.
“If there is no response, then we will consider that they are not interested to look after or defend the building.
“Another option available to the company concerned is to apply to the landowner to purchase the land at the current market price and to pay all premiums and development approvals as well as the fines to be imposed,” he said at a press conference at Menara DBKL yesterday.
He said that the outcome of an internal investigation by the Integrity Unit of Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) revealed that both pieces of land belonged to the Federal Territories Land and Mines Office.
The plots involved are Lot 568 and Lot 716, which have a combined area of 0.145ha, with an estimated market value of about RM20mil.
Both lots were previously empty spaces with a playground and some durian stalls.
At the media conference, Khalid said a report on malpractices on the land would also be handed to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to investigate the parties or individuals involved in the creation of the “mysterious building” on the land.
He said it was not logical for the authorities at that time to not know of the malpractices that occurred as there were protests made by two Members of Parliament at that time and the case had also received media coverage.
In March 2017, Bukit Bintang MP Fung Kui Lin and then-Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng urged the development be halted following the playground’s demolition.
“On March 25, 2015, the company applied to construct a two-storey building for an eight-year period. After the former Federal Territories Minister requested the matter be expedited in December, the DO was issued on June 17, 2016, for a two-storey restaurant,” Khalid said.
However, on September 23, DBKL’s One Stop Centre granted permission to construct a six-storey building, with the DO for the amendment issued on December 15. The building’s architect issued the Certificate of Completion on February 8, 2018.
The company also wrote to DBKL on March 14, 2016, proposing a Durian Kiosk be constructed, which the former minister subsequently expedited in a written minute to DBKL officers the following day.
“On June 10 the planning approval was granted to construct a temporary kiosk, which upon completion would see the company manage it and collect RM16,000 monthly in rent from the tenants,” Khalid said.
He pointed out that the issues facing the two lots include how permission was granted to the company since the land belonged to neither them nor DBKL.
“How was the amendment to the planning approval to turn the structure from two-storeys to six storeys issued? Not to mention the company is occupying land not belonging to them and collecting revenue thereof,” he said.
Since the matter occurred under his predecessor’s tenure, with the DOs and approvals signed by DBKL officers and department heads who have since retired, Khalid said he will leave it to MACC to determine the extent of what happened.
“This is a sign that abuse of power and malpractices had clearly occurred in DBKL during the previous administration. All those who are involved in this project will be up to MACC (to investigate),” he said.
“I expect the DBKL officers involved would say that they were only following instructions. (In this case), a clear instruction is what was ordered by the Minister of (Federal) Territories at the time such as “please attend to” (sila uruskan), “take immediate action” (ambil tindakan segera). The minister had minutes at least four times (written instructions),” he added.
Meanwhile, DAP has urged Khalid not to give the company involved in building the controversial six-storey building the option to buy over the land because of suspected malpractice.
DAP chairman Tan Kok Wai said this would be akin to saying that it was all right for a driver to beat the red light.
“I don’t think the minister’s decision (in giving the option) is right, to let the owner of the building buy over the land, which is supposed to be a park,” said Tan.
Tan said one option would be for the land to be returned to the government and turned into a recreational park, as was originally planned.
The other option was to leave the building alone and let it serve as a reminder for future generations on the ramifications of power abuse.
Tan questioned if the building had been granted all approvals.
“If so, how did it get all the approvals for building laws and bylaws? If not, can the building continue to exist?” he asked.
He said there was no set back (distance which a building or structure is set back from a road) or parking space, but the building was nevertheless approved.
According to the New Straits Times, the Federal Territories Ministry claimed that “hidden hands” were at play behind the project, which it suspects is linked to several figures from the previous administration.
Khalid described the existence of the office building as a “miracle as it was built on someone else’s land”, the daily reported.
“They were so brazen to the extent they did this on government land. They have (also) not paid one sen in land premium or rent and are instead collecting rent,” he was quoted as saying.
He disclosed that DBKL had previously sought to build durian kiosks on the plots in 2016, but the application was rejected by the landowner, the Federal Territories Land and Mines Department.
“However, our checks showed that the development order was given later that same year, with a note to amend the number of floors on the building.”
Khalid said since the building and kiosks’ completion in Feb 2018, the company had been collecting rent from tenants with no revenue going to DBKL.
The company, he said, has been instructed to vacate the lots before Jan 10.
Khalid added that the ministry will await the company’s response before taking further action.