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Sothinathan should be thoroughly ashamed of himself and apologize for challenging a woman DAP MP, Fong Po Kuan (Batu Gajah) to a fight outside the Chamber – first time in 50 years of Parliament

Media Conference (2)          
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Tuesday): Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Environment Datuk S. Sothinathan should be thoroughly ashamed of himself and apologize for challenging a woman DAP MP, Fong Po Kuan (Batu Gajah) to a fight outside the Chamber yesterday during the winding-up of the 2008 Budget committee debate on his Ministry, when he was completely flustered and unable to reply in an exchange with DAP MPs. The shameful conduct of Sothinathan is the first time in 50 years of Parliament in Malaysia.

The fracas took place yesterday when he made a baseless charge against me when I raised the widespread opposition of the people of Kedah to the unfair, arbitrary and illegal increases of quit rent in the state.

Earlier during the debate, I had informed Parliament that 120,000 signatures regardless of race, religion and political beliefs, protesting against the unfair Kedah quit land increases was presented to the Kedah State Government on Sunday, and that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment which has responsibility for co-ordination of land policy, should ensure that the Kedah State Government is more responsible and responsive on the issue.

When the signature campaign opposing the Kedah quit land revision was launched by the Kedah Chinese Assembly Hall on 23rd May 2007 after a year of fruitless protests, there were those who ridiculed the campaign as unlikely to collect even a thousand signatures.

However, within two weeks it collected over 30,000 signatures while in less than six months, there were 120,000 signatures from all races and religions, reflecting the widespread opposition to the unfair, arbitrary and illegal quit land revision in the Kedah state.

The main objections of the Kedah people to the quit land revision were two:

Firstly, the steep hike in the increase in quit rent to as high as 900% when in other states the quit rent increases were in the region between 10% to 30%.

Secondly, the illegal revision, with the following examples cited in the signature campaign memorandum:

Klasifikasi (“Classification”)

klasifikasi tambahan khususnya tanah Bandar dalam Bandar kecil dan tanah luar simpanan melayu adalah bertentangan dengan Seksyen 51(2) Kanun Tanah Negara yang Cuma memperuntukkan tiga (3) jenis tanah iaitu: (a) tanah bandar; (b) tanah Pekan; dan (c) tanah Desa.

Jenis penggunaan

Seksyen 52 KTN memperuntukkan tiga jenis penggunaan tanah sahaja seperti berikut:-

(i) Pertanian;
(ii) Bangunan; dan
(iii) Perindustrian.

Tetapi didapati jenis penggunaan tanah telah di sub-kategorikan kepada:-

(i) Bagi maksud Perindustrian - disub-kategorikan kepada industri berat, industri ringan, industri serdehana, industri perkhidmatan, pelancongan dan sebagainya;
(ii) Bagi maksud Bangunan - disub-kategorikan kepada hiper market, tapak stesen minyak, tapak hospitak swasta, tapak pendidikan swasta, tapak rekreasi, rumah sesebuah, rumah teres, rumah berkembar dan sebagainya;
(iii) Bagi maksud Pertanian - tanaman jangka panjang, tanaman jangka pendek, kawasan padi yang diwartakan sebahagian kawasan tuaian dua kali yang dikenakan cukai taliair dan sebagainya.

dimana ianya jelas bertentangan dengan Seksyen 52(1) KTN.

Tanah luar simpanan Melayu

Kami mendapati bagi tujuan pembayaran cukai tanah kesemua tanah luar simpanan melayu telah dikira sebagai tanah Bandar walaupun ianya terletak di luar kawasan Bandar.

Dengan kewujudan klasifikasi ini, ia jelas bertentangan dengan Seksyen 51(2) KTN dan berbentuk diskriminasi.

Memperkira kenaikan-kenaikan pada nilai tanah disebabkan oleh kemajuan

Seksyen 101(4) Kanun Tanah Negara yang berbunyi:-

“Dalam menjalankan kuasa-kuasa yang diberi oleh seksyen ini Pihak Berkuasa Negeri janganlah hendaknya memperkira kenaikan-kenaikan pada nilai tanah disebabkan oleh kemajuan”

In my speech, I had urged the Federal Ministry in charge of land co-ordination in the country among the various states to liaise with the Kedah State Government to be responsible and responsive on the quit rent revision controversy or the Barisan Nasional will face severe consequences in the next general election.

Unfortunately in his reply, Sothinathan chose to play politics by accusing me of trying to “politicize” the issue, leading to a heated exchange where MIC’s role as “slave” to UMNO, as proven by its cowed and submissive responses to arrogant UMNO actions, like timing the recent UMNO General Assembly on Deepavali and castigating Indian news vendors for taking a holiday resulting in the Prime Minister’s UMNO Presidential speech not been read the next day because it was a press holiday were cited.

It was in this exchange between Barisan Nasional and DAP MPs that Sothinathan challenged Po Kuan to a “fight” outside the Chamber, which was most disgraceful in setting a new Malaysian parliamentary record of a male MP challenging a female MP to a “fight outside”.

If Sothinathan refuses to apologize, then Samy Vellu should direct him to do so.


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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