Wong (seated centre) with the landowners, asking for a fair deal.
Wong (seated centre) with the landowners, asking for a fair deal.

SIBU: More than 50 landowners, who had formed an umbrella body called the Rantau Panjang Landowners Rights Committee, reiterated that they want the government to compensate them fairly should their 250 acres of land be acquired for the expansion of the Rantau Panjang industrial estate.

They had on March 2 spoke out on the matter.

Committee chairman Wong Kwong Toh told the press today that they had to state their request again after United Chinese Association (UCA) Sibu chairman Ngieng Ping Sing had on March 4 issued a statement that had hurt their position.

Ngieng had advised the state government to look for an alternative site in Paloh for the expansion project, should it face undue pressure from the Rantau Panjang landowners.

“As a chairman representing the community, Ngieng should have considered our interest first before making such a proposal. We feel hurt as we fully support the government’s effort to spearhead economic growth in Sibu.

“We are happy that our acquired lands will contribute to the wellbeing of the state, albeit with a reasonable package,” Wong stressed.

The government had in November last year gazetted 250 acres of land for the said project.

The landowners were offered compensations ranging between RM90,000 and RM120,000 per acre, but they deemed it too low considering that the land is for the development of an industrial estate and not for public utilities.

“Once these agricultural lands are being converted into industrial lands, the value of the lands would go as high as RM1 mln or RM2 mln per acre. Which means, if the government only offers us RM100,000, it is less than 10 per cent of the value. We feel that this is very unreasonable,” he said.

Wong added that the landowners were expecting the compensation to be three times the amount offered.

“In West Malaysia, and particularly in China, the local authority has always exercise great care with land acquisition, and often accord a premium over market price to incentivise landowners to part with ancestral lands. This is increasingly being adopted in many countries,” he added.

Wong said they believed the state government under Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg would adopt an open attitude and readily listen to the voices of the rakyat.