Kampung Baru redevelopment still up in the air after plan worked out 3 years ago

The only way for Kampung Baru to continue its transformation is via the activation of the Land Acquisition Act 1960, says consultant

By AFIQ AZIZ / Pic By TMR

The “Kampung Baru Detailed Development Master Plan” (PITPKB) may have been in place for at least three years now, but no significant progress can be seen taking place in the area — viewed by many as among the most coveted piece of land in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

Land acquisition and ownership have remained the main issues, and the change in government administration may have also slowed down the pace of any progress.

IPC Island Property Consultants Sdn Bhd director Anjaniman Abu Kassim, one of the interested parties in the redevelopment project, told The Malaysian Reserve that all the stakeholders are still stuck with the same issues.

He said the only way for Kampung Baru to move forward and continue its transformation that has been planned under the PITPKB initiated in 2015 is via the activation of the Land Acquisition Act 1960.

“Using the Act, the government could actually take over the entire land and develop it to uphold the Malays’ interest, along with the economic benefits that come with it as the main objective,” he said.

Such an effort, however, will need a strong political will as the government is expected to face a strong wave against the move.

IPC is one of six land valuers assigned to conduct the mass land valuation for the area.

Anjaniman said the current complexity in the project, due to land acquisition issues, is only expected.

Kampung Baru Development Corp (KBDC) CEO Zulkurnain Hassan said while the land acquisition approach can be done, it will still be challenging due to the government’s financial constraint.

KBDC is in the middle of setting up a committee, which will be empowered by the Federal Territories Ministry, to re-examine the most viable approaches in solving the long-standing land acquisition issue.

Among others, they include bringing in the government-owned trustee company, Amanah Raya Bhd.

“But if the Land Acquisition Act is the option, we may not need this agency to be part of us. So, it really depends on the situation,” he said.

To date, IPC is still unable to determine when the land acquisition can be fully realised as it is based on a willing buyer-willing seller basis.

Anjaniman said some years ago, property players had proposed to the government to use the transfer development rights (TDR) mechanism.

He said despite the mechanism deemed to be the best method, it still needed consensus from the land plot owners who could not even settle disputes among themselves.

The TDR works as a joint-venture corporation between landowners and developers, in which both parties will sit together in a special purpose vehicle (SPV) company that holds the plots of land.

Anjaniman said landowners and developers will then establish their equities in the SPV based on the land and the developer values.

He added that via the model, the related parcels that have obtained the agreement to be developed will be parked under the company’s asset, instead of the individual owners.

“Any party that wishes to withdraw from the corporation, including the landowner, will be paid according to their share in the SPV,” Anjaniman said.

However, he said the mechanism would only work if the landowners agree to such deal.

“If that does not work, the last resort would be the activation of the Land Acquisition Act that allows the government to possess the land,” he said.

The ambitious redevelopment of Kampung Baru may be beneficial to all parties, but the idea is not easy to be materialised.

For changes to take place, KBDC needs a “magic formula” to obtain concrete consensus from the land-owners and also the property players.

Established in April 2012, KBDC was entrusted as the coordinator, facilitator and prime mover in the redevelopment of Kampung Baru.

In 2015, the body launched a 20-year project, PITPKB which is expected to be completed by 2035.

The plan is expected to develop 17,500 residential units that can accommodate up to 77,000 people within the 121.8ha land area.

It is supposed to be carried out in three phases, which will cost an estimated RM43 billion, of which RM30 billion will be used for construction alone.

However, the development has been stuck since its earliest stage — the land acquisition stage.

In order to possess the land parcels, KBDC will have to negotiate with about 5,300 landowners, involving 1,355 lots, most of which are tradition- ally inherited from their ancestors.

The matter of land ownership titles has been in a complicated phase as the parcels have been passed down for several generations, with individual lots getting smaller from the first residents who were awarded the land by the government.

In a report by TMR last year, KBDC chairman Datuk Affendi Zahari said the Department of DG of Lands and Mines was willing to come into the picture in helping them to resolve the overlapping title claims, which had been dogged over the last 30 years.

“The project is still viable. But all parties have to overcome all the complex obstacles,” Anjaniman said.

On top of the heirs issue, the Kampung Baru residents have also manifested their disagreement on the various luxury projects in that area, adding to the challenges faced by the authorities and developers.

The residents have demanded that any development must uphold the Malays’ interest in the 119-year-old enclave, including building up more affordable houses instead of luxury condominiums.

In another report earlier this year, former Second Finance Minister and Titiwangsa MP Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani said the project must be “carried out carefully in stages” to ensure that the Malay land ownership in Kampung Baru will be protected.

“If we rush the redevelopment and the Malays are not ready, slowly the land will fall into the hands of the non-Malays,” he said.

Despite efforts to secure clean titles for the redevelopment, KBDC has only managed to get consent from only a few plot owners and further updates can only be expected when the newly elected government outlines its plans to expedite the project.

Last month, Deputy Federal Territories Minister Datuk Dr Shahrud- din Md Salleh said in a Bernama report that the government will study on the progress of the master plan before embarking on any course of action.

“The review will be completed as soon as possible, although we are faced with the challenge of getting the agreement of every dweller and developer,” he said.

As for now, the only village in the city with a population of nearly 35,000 people will just remain as it is — a huge jigsaw puzzle in disarray as the pieces are still not legally in the hands of the players.