Illegal settlers can be fined up to RM1m under new law

TANJUNG MALIM: With the National Land Code (Amendment) Act 2016 having come into force on Jan 1, parties which destroy the environment, including conducting illegal land clearing activities can now be fined up to a maximum of RM1 million.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar (pix) said the amendment was made after it was found the existing legislation which the government adopted, failed to have significant impact on offenders.

He said the penalty would curb illegal encroachment on government land and widespread deforestation such as those which occurred in the Cameron Highlands.

"If we look at Cameron Highlands before, it was 'struck' badly by illegal settlers because our laws were outdated. We felt as though our hands were tied from behind.

"When this law is implemented, the penalty is much higher and we can take more serious action. So that (individuals) who exploit government land and forests, do not go home smiling after a small punishment by the courts," he added.

The minister was speaking to reporters after launching the National Land and Survey Institute's (INSTUN) survey and mapping cluster of excellence in conjunction with his working visit to the institute in Behrang here today.

In the meantime, Wan Junaidi said the amendment would also broaden the scope of syariah-based financing and collateral offered by financial institutions.

"With this amendment, the financial institutions can introduce new financial products without an amendment to the National Land Code in the future," he said, adding that another reform done was to allow land tax for a particular state to be paid in another state.

"In this respect, the Land and Mines Office will be willing to accept tax payments for land ownership in other states." — Bernama