JOHOR BAHRU: Johor Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar consented to handing over his land in Bukit Chagar to the Malaysian government for the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) project, his confidential secretary said in a statement on Saturday (May 4).
This comes a day after Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said the government will take back the land meant for the RTS project if the ownership had indeed been transferred to the sultan.
In the statement by his confidential secretary Jaba Mohd Noah, the sultan would hand over the land without any cost, if the land is involved in the RTS project.
The sultan had also set the condition that the project be continued quickly, the statement said, as he understood the sufferings of the people commuting to Singapore.
It added that Sultan Ibrahim was disappointed over a news report connecting the issue of an increase in the cost of the RTS project with a piece of land belonging to him in Bukit Chagar.
To date, Sultan Ibrahim had never been informed the land belonging to him would be involved in the RTS project, the statement noted.
“Nevertheless, Sultan Ibrahim had said, if it is indeed true that the land belonging to him in Bukit Chagar is involved for the RTS project, he is willing to hand over the land to the government without any cost,” Jaba wrote in the statement that was posted on the sultan’s Facebook page.
Media reports had earlier stated one of the five plots of land for the RTS project was transferred to the Sultan of Johor during the reign of the Barisan Nasional government.
Amid the reports, Dr Mahathir said on Friday the federal government would demand back its land if it was true that its ownership had been given to the Sultan of Johor without going through the proper process.
Dr Mahathir added the government was willing to buy back the land from the Sultan of Johor if he had already paid for it.
“If he (Sultan of Johor) has paid, of course we have to buy it back. But if he hasn’t paid then we won’t buy back … it is our land. We require that land for the purpose of building necessary building,” he said.
The location in question is one of five plots of land in Bukit Chagar that was given to Putrajaya by the state government in 2012, as part of a land swap agreement to build the Johor Bahru Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex.
The RTS project, if implemented, will include a 4km rail linking Bukit Chagar in Johor Bahru and Woodlands in Singapore, with the capacity to ferry 10,000 passengers per hour.
The bilateral agreement on the project was signed in January 2018 during the previous administration.
The project was initially scheduled to commence this year and was expected to be completed by December 2024.
However, the Pakatan Harapan government in early April applied for a six-month extension until September from Singapore to decide on the RTS project.