At least two five-year-olds are among 81 youngsters who were allocated plots of land in a squatter resettlement area in Taman Selayang Mutiara, Selangor, in a land scam which began more than 20 years ago.
Hundreds of names of eligible original squatters in the Bukit Botak resettlement project, meanwhile, were deleted and replaced with those of people, some of whom are now only in their 20s.
These landowners were born between 1978 and 1980 — meaning they would have been between just five and seven when they were assigned the lots in 1985.
Plots were also given to outsiders, including some not from Selangor, who are obviously not entitled or qualified to get the land.
On top of that, plots were also given to grassroots politicians who were not squatters or even residing in the area.
The resettlement scheme started in 1985 when large tracts of land were pledged to the 1,634 original squatters. The names of 215 original squatters went missing from the land allocation list.
Of the 1,634 lots, 270 in Kampung Bendahara were given to the squatters who eventually settled there in 1990.
The remaining lots were assigned to squatter families by the state government in 1995 but they are still waiting for their lots.
The saga, that has been ongoing for over two decades now, has seen five Mentris Besar taking charge of the state, including the current administration of Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim.
Tan Sri Ahmad Razali Ali was Mentri Besar in 1985, followed by Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib (1986-1997), Tan Sri Abu Hassan Omar (1997-2000) and Datuk Seri Khir Toyo (2000-2008).
A special committee formed under Selangor Housing, Building Management and Squatters Committee chairman Iskandar Abdul Samad revealed that 81 of the landowners were under 18 years old. Of that number, 37 were below 12 when they were assigned the plots.
As the state government investigates how these people were given approval to own land in the scheme since 1985, allegations are being made that the names of the genuine squatters are missing from the original list of people to be compensated with land.
Some squatters claimed that 215 names of genuine settlers had been left out of the original list.
In a a special interview with a Star Probe Team, Iskandar said the state government was aware that plots had been allocated to children, youths, grassroots politicians and outsiders.
Although the land approvals were granted to these people since 1985, he said the titles were only issued from 2007 onwards.
Suspecting irregularities and discrepancies in the way the plots had been allocated, Iskandar said Khalid ordered the land office last year to stop giving out titles to the remaining people.
“We stopped issuing titles and only some 900 people have been successful in obtaining their titles so far. This is the best the state can do at this moment and it does not mean that we will not release the titles to the rest of the successful candidates.
“We give an assurance all those who are genuine applicants that they will get their titles,’’ he said.
Iskandar said the state was in a fix due to the fact that some of the titles had been given and it would be almost impossible to revoke them.
He said, however, that the state was looking into the legal aspects on how action could be taken against those who had obtained the titles illegally.
“We are serious about resolving the Bukit Botak squatters issue and will do everything possible to ensure justice is done,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, an earlier study by the Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS) found that only 1,049 lots were available for distribution to the 1,364 squatter families.
The PKNS study showed that the names of 215 squatters who originally stayed in Bukit Botak were missing in the land allocation list of the 1,049 eligible applicants.
The original grants by the state government was a plot of 2,200 sq ft of land for each squatter family.
However, it was discovered that the names of certain grassroots politicians who were not squatters were among the 1,049 successful applicants, with some of them given plots of more than 3,000 sq ft, well above the official lot size.
Delpuri Corp Sdn Bhd, the contractor appointed to handle the Bukit Botak project, was given a 22,000 sq ft plot and also a 9.6ha of land as contra payment to build low and medium-cost houses costing RM42,000 to RM79,000.
Its general manager Ler Chang Koi said in an earlier statement that the company had not abandoned the project, but was told that the PKNS would take over.
“But, after three years, the PKNS itself was unable to finish the job and pushed the blame to our company, saying that it had abandoned the project,” he said.
‘’We are willing to complete the project. However, we need to get a letter of consent from PKNS or the state government,’’ Ler said.
PKNS public relations manager Mohd Wazir Abdul Gani said the corporation was only given a directive by the state government in December 2005 to take over the project.
“The PKNS had to follow the state directive and came up with a proposal to build houses costing only RM80,000 each, but only 20% of the squatters accepted the proposal,’’ he said.
According to Bukit Botak squatters spokesman Satar Md Saman, of the 1,364 lots for distribution, 270 have been given to those staying outside Selayang Baru while 160 lots were given to those who had never lived in Bukit Botak.