I HAD previously raised the issue of leasehold titles in Petaling Jaya (PJ) possibly being invalid and house owners being entitled to freehold titles based on historical records.
The Section 4 Rukun Tetangga committee subsequently held a signature campaign and wrote to Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim for an appointment to resolve the issue.
Khalid, however, announced a discount to the premium rates but to my knowledge, never met up with the residents or countered the facts presented on this issue.
This article is therefore a follow-up to my earlier article which contains more of my findings. In my view, these findings demonstrate more clearly my contention that many house owners in PJ should actually have freehold titles to their land.
As I’ve stated previously, when the British authorities founded PJ in 1953, the land was privately owned by Petaling Estate. This land was presumably parceled out and sold to PJ’s pioneer residents. My view is that these residents should have received freehold titles. However, perhaps due to the transition period during Malaya’s independence, these titles were never issued.
Instead, in the 1960s and 1970s, many in Sections 1 through 4 PJ were issued leasehold titles by the then Selangor government.
To have issued those leases, the Selangor government would have had to buy the land from the pioneer residents before leasing it to new buyers. But my findings below confirm my contention that this does not seem to have happened.
Privately owned land
The gazette declaring PJ a town in 1955 refers to a survey sheet demarcating the entire area and shows that the area belonged to private estates. The gazette and the survey sheet have a reference of DOKL 546 on the right hand corner 1, 2.
A letter from the Kuala Lumpur district officer, also referring to DOKL 546 in the top left hand corner, recommends that PJ be declared “town land”. In discussing the effects of declaring PJ “town land”, the letter states, “This is a point which we must consider if [Petaling Jaya] is intended to include within the town area land not in possession of the Authority.” 3
It is clear from this letter that the government did not own all the land at the time PJ was founded. This supports my earlier contention that the Selangor government never owned the land which it later leased to PJ house owners.
Further, I have also found that many of the land titles issued by the state government are riddled with inconsistencies. Let us look at this qualified title from a plot of land in Section 4 PJ as an example. 4
To reflect the sale of land from the government to a person, a land title should have a column for “premium paid”, which lists the price a person paid for the land. No such column or quantum is printed on this example land title.
Since there is no premium paid recorded, there is no proof that a transaction actually took place between the state government and the buyer.
Date of registry
Next, we examine the “date of registry”. This column reflects the date when the state government sold the piece of land to the buyer. This is also the official date from when the lease period is calculated.
Note that the date of registry is 9 June 1970 (bottom right corner) and the expiry date is 8 June 2069, making this a 99-year lease.
However, long-time residents living in the area would tell you that Section 4 PJ was built much earlier than the registry date. The land title itself seems to attest to this under the column “date of first alienation”, listing it as 3 December 1959.
If indeed the government sold the land to the buyer, the date of registry should not differ from the “date of first alienation”, yet here is a very clear example that the land was alienated long before it was registered.
Let us now scrutinise the type of land title, which is that of a “qualified title”. Under the National Land Code 1965 (NLC), qualified titles are to enable the state government to sell a piece of land to a person in advance of an official survey being done on the piece of land.
The NLC requires the government to complete a survey of the land and convert the land title into a ‘final title’. Indeed, qualified titles have restrictions placed upon them and do not enjoy the full benefits of a final title.
If indeed the land was sold by the Selangor government in the 1970s, why has the government not taken up the task to complete the survey in all this time?
Perhaps the reason why the government did not do the survey was possibly because it was already done. This survey sheet, which was attached to a land title of another Section 4 resident, shows that the area was surveyed in 1958.5
To accept this survey sheet would mean that the area was built up before 1958, since such surveys are not done until after the area is built up. Consequently, the land office would have erred in using the NLC to issue out the land titles since the area was built and sold before the NLC existed.
The correct law to use then would be the Land Code Cap 138, the land law that preceded the NLC. As I stated before, if the land was indeed built up and surveyed by 1958, the pioneer residents should have received freehold titles under Cap 138, which somehow, did not occur. Instead, they received leasehold titles from a government that may have never owned the land in the first place.
As I stated before, these discrepancies should be corrected and if some of these house owners are entitled to freehold titles, then they should be issued accordingly.
The report is strictly a statement of facts that I discovered; presented to the public for them to evaluate and act upon if they so choose. – KW Mak
Documents to view
(All document scans courtesy of KW Mak):
KW Mak wrote this piece independently of his role as an MBPJ councillor.