TRANSIT took note of two articles related to the use of the former railway lands from the first rail line built in Malaysia, at Kuala Sepetang near Taiping.
- Zambry wants railway land price dispute settled amicably (The Star)
- Zambry rails against KTMB over land price (NST
The lands were alienated for railway use in the early 19th century as part of the original line from Taiping to Port Weld. Railway services along the line stopped in 1941, and squatter families which have been living along the lands have been facing issues since then.
Earlier this year, Minister of Transport Ong Tee Keat announced that the cabinet had agreed to delineating the land and giving it up. According to the Attorney General, the land has a value of RM37 million.
However, Perak Menteri Besar Dr. Zambry Abdul Kadir has stated that he will not pay a single sen for the lands.
The story of the railway lands is a very interesting one. No matter what happens, a priceless piece of Malaysia’s railway heritage has been lost.
At the same time, the government must provide for the people – if they cannot or will not use the land for public transport (we bet it would be great for a tram-train service) then they should use it for affordable housing.
The Ministry of Transport and the Perak government should not turn this into a political issue. The land has value and should not be transfered for free, but the compensation demanded should be low.