Friday September 28, 2012
Govt and Office to pay firm over land fraud
By EDMUND NGO
IPOH: The state government and the Land and Mines Office have been ordered to pay RM1.58mil in damages for gross negligence resulting in a land fraud.
In a landmark decision, the High Court here ruled that the state government and the Land and Mines Office had breached their statutory duties in not protecting the land registry.
This had caused a piece of 2.6ha land in Kampar to change hands four times although the owner and plaintiff, Shayo (M) Sdn Bhd, was still in possession of the land title.
Shayo owned the land since 1994, but on June 12, 2002, the computerised land registration system registered Nurlieda Sidek as the owner.
Nurlieda purportedly sold the land to three individuals for RM100,000.
The land was then sold to Lee Heng for about RM228,000 before it was finally sold to Tan Meng Kang for RM1.4mil.
Shayo named Nurlieda, Lim Kean Sang, Kuan Kian Seng, Chee Chik Eng, Lee Lai Peng, Lee Heng, Tan Meng Kang, registrars of titles Manshor Yahya, Mior Muhammad Jamil Mior Zakaria and Mohd Syukri Azaari, state Land and Mines Office director Datuk Syed Mokhtar Syed Idris and the state government as defendants in its suit filed in March.
In his judgment, judge Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal said it was “a startling revelation” that the state government and the Land and Mines Office had failed to ensure the security of its computerised registration system, claiming it was hacked, causing Nurlieda to be registered as the land owner.
“It is also disturbing to note that no inquiry was conducted on the error despite a report made in 2009 by one of the defence witnesses, which clearly disclosed that something was wrong with the system and also revealed similar cases,” he said.
The Land and Mines Office and the state government had seriously undermined public trust in them to maintain the land registry, he said, ordering them to restore Shayo as the land’s rightful owner and pay RM60,000 in costs.
They are also required to pay RM20,000 in costs to each of the six defendants and finally RM1.4mil to Tan, he said in his judgment.