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Dec 23, 2007

Landowners beware! Your property is at risk

National House Buyers Association secretary Chang Kim Loong

Land scams on the rise


KUALA LUMPUR: Landowners beware! Your property is at risk. There has been a rising number of land scams in recent years, especially in the Klang Valley. Worse, the scams are targeting higher-value land too.

Government statistics revealed in Parliament recently showed that there were 16 land scams recorded in 2001, 19 in 2002, 22 in 2003, 32 in 2004, 35 in 2005 and 80 last year.

Police statistics also showed that last year the value of land involved in the scams was almost RM4.9mil. This year, up till October, the value of the land was more than RM10.4mil.

Only four people were arrested over the offences last year and just one this year.

National House Buyers Association secretary Chang Kim Loong expressed concern over increasing incidences of land scams and the high number of unsolved cases.

“This could lead to a loss of confidence in the Malaysian property market,” he said.

Chang urged the Government to initiate an insurance scheme to indemnify anyone who suffers loss due to fraudulent land transfer.

Commercial Crimes Investigation Department legal / inspectorate division principal assistant director ACP Tan Kok Liang said that in certain cases it was difficult to get evidence against the perpetrators because they used other people's identity.

The most recent case involves Taiwanese businessman Chen Wei Pin, who found that a private caveat had been entered on his land by a director of Zen Zaman Sdn Bhd, claiming that Chen had sold the land to his company. Chen denied any such transaction.

His plight was brought up by the MCA Public Service and Complaints Department, which has received 18 such complaints involving land worth RM30mil in the past five years.

Assistant professor Dr Sharifah Zubaidah Syed Abdul Kader of the Public Law Department of the International Islamic University Malaysia said the law did not fully protect landowners, especially in cases of forgery.

“Even if they are able to prove the title is theirs, they can still lose their land. The court will inevitably rule against them as long as it can be proven that the purchaser had bought the land on good faith,” she added.

Roger Tan, the Bar Council's Conveyancing Practice Committee chairman, said the onus had fallen on landowners to conduct regular checks on their land title.


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