Azmi said the stubborn attitude of the house owner had stalled the mega RM4.5 billion Kuala Terengganu City Centre (KTCC) project from progressing. NSTP/ Baharom Bakar

KUALA TERENGGANU: A senior state officer has brushed aside any notion that a 77-year-old Malay traditional house was demolished without any valid reason.

Kuala Terengganu district officer Azmi Razik also explained that the action on the house in Kampung Tanjung Kelab Pantai was not an act of cruelty or against the law.

On the contrary, he said, the owner of the house had been advised since 2015 to vacate his premises as he was unable to show proof of ownership of the land for Lot 2975 along Jalan Sultan Zainal Abidin.

“We gave him and his family ample time to show proof of his claim of land ownership, or else be prepared to be evacuated.

“He has not done so and we have advised him accordingly,” said Azmi, adding that the house was occupied by the family of Wan Mokhtar Wan Yusof, 64.

Azmi said the action by the authorities could not be construed as cruel to a senior citizen.

He said the stubborn attitude of the house owner had stalled the mega RM4.5 billion Kuala Terengganu City Centre (KTCC) project from progressing.

“The delay in evacuating the house has incurred losses for the project developer and the state, and loss of confidence by investors,” said Azmi.

Azmi said that a search at the land office records on Nov 6, 2016, showed the plot of land had belonged to the state government all along, and was not registered to any other individual.

A government gazette (No 1168, dated Oct 13, 2011) showed that the Kampung Tanjung area was earmarked for development.

“There were several quarters who objected to the development, claiming that the land belonged to them and that they had paid quit rent until 2008. But there was no such record and no one could prove the payment,” he said.

On March 11, 2015, the state government had consented to pay compensation at a rate of 30 per cent of the property value, or a maximum of RM20,000, to those who squatted there.

Azmi said on April 16, 2015, the land office had written to the squatters to furnish their bank account and MyKad numbers to facilitate the compensation payment, but there was no response. Instead, the occupants sought legal redress.

On Nov 25 the same year, the land office issued a notice under Section 425 of the National Land Code for the occupants to vacate the land. A second notice was issued to the occupants on June 26, 2016.

However, on July 27 that year, the land office received a letter from legal firm Messrs Patrick Dass & Co that they were representing nine claimants who alleged they owned the land and house on Lot 2975.

The land office replied to the firm on Sept 25 the same year, requesting for the documents of ownership which were never furnished.

“As such, upon consent from the state legal adviser, a final notice was issued to the occupants to vacate by Nov 21 this year (last Wednesday) for the demolition works,” he said.

Azmi said a total of 326 houses had to date been demolished with the cooperation of the owners, to make way for development.

He said the state government had leased the KTCC area to Pelaburan Hartanah Berhad (PHB) to develop it from April 1 this year to March 31, 2021.

Meanwhile, Parti Amanah Negara Terengganu’s chairman Senator Raja Datuk Kamarul Bahrin Shah Raja Ahmad claimed that the case in concern was a 118-year-old Malay traditional house.

“Its demolition has broken the hearts of the local people. The main occupant, Wan Mokhtar, has lived there alone since the beginning of this year after the water and electricity supply were cut off.

“He related this to me in March this year,” he said.