Old Kelantan land law frustrates property buyers
By Sulaiman Jaafar
08 September, 2007
They can live, work, marry, vote or even contest for a seat in the state legislative assembly. But there is one thing people not born in Kelantan will find tough ó buying property in the state.
They are restricted by an old state land law which requires people born outside Kelantan to fulfil several conditions before they can buy property.
Firstly, the buyers must be Malays, as the majority of the land here is Malay reserve land.
Then they must have resided in the state for at least 15 years. And to top it off, all transactions must be approved by the state executive committee.
These conditions have deterred many non-Kelantan born people like Zabidi (not his real name) from buying a home.
After living here for more than 10 years, the 40-year old civil servant and his wife, both from Perak, decided to settle down in Kelantan for good and started scouting for a house.
They found one and paid a deposit but were forced to wait eight months before obtaining the approval from the state committee.
By then, the developer had sold the unit to another buyer. Zabidi is now having second thoughts about buying property in Kelantan, especially when he has to submit a fresh application to the authorities.
"I donít know why they are making it difficult for us to buy homes here. This is double standards.
"We are all Malaysians, yet I have to go through a lot of hassle to own a property here."
His views are echoed by several quarters who called on the state government to review the archaic law which has slowed down development in the state.
Kelantan Bar chairman Datuk Sukri Mohamed was blunt when he called for changes.
"Kelantan is the only state in the country which practises this, and I see no reason why it should be allowed to continue.
"It is strange that people from Kelantan wanting to buy property in other states do not have to fulfil such conditions."
Sukri, however, admitted that the people of Kelantan were conservative and changing the law would be an uphill task. "The state government will not want to rock the boat," he said.
Although 90 per cent of land in the state was Malay reserve, he felt the state government should allow land applications for big projects to push for development.
Kelantan Real Estate and Housing Developers Association Malaysia (Rehda) chairman Wan Mohd Dzulkifli Wan Daud said the law had affected sale of houses here.
The stateís property market was categorised as disappointing last year and the situation is expected to worsen this year.
Last year, only 227 units were launched with 96 unit sold compared with 2,235 units launched in 2005.
Wan Mohd Dzulkifli said Rehda had proposed to the state to abolish the conditions and allow unsold units to be purchased by non-Malays from Kelantan.
State executive councillor Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan denied that the law was dated and had hampered development in the state.
He said it was drawn up to protect property in the state from being bought by outsiders.
"We have no intention to review the law. People outside Kelantan can still buy but certain conditions still have to be met. Submitted applications are rarely rejected."
The law was believed to have been introduced in the 19th century when Kelantan was a vassal to Siam.
In 1900, the Kelantan Sultan sold a land concession to retired British officer Robert William Duff who owned Duff Development Company.
However, the Sultan was ordered by the King of Siam to stop the sale, as he only had powers to endow the land to natives.
The Kelantan Land Enactment 1938 defined natives as Kelantan-born Malays, Kelantan-born Malays with Malay mothers and Muslim fathers, and Malays who were born outside the state but with their fathers being born here.
Also under the group are Malays who have resided in the state for a minimum 15 years and non-Malays who have lived in the state for generations.
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