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As flood frequencies increase, Johor sultan tells govt to consider land swaps for residents in water-logged areas

Publish date: Fri, 24 Mar 2023, 11:51 AM

KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 — Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar has suggested the government consider a land exchange exercise that will enable residents to move their homes located in frequently flooded areas to higher ground.

He told The Star that floods were becoming a yearly problem and each time the same victims had to be relocated to flood relief centres.

“This is because of where they built their houses and the low-lying land areas that they live in.

“It is time for the government to take drastic measures such as initiating a land swap and moving them to safer areas,” he was quoted as saying in an interview published today.

He did not specify if the land swap proposal should be initiated by the federal or state government.

In Johor, all matters related to state land are under the purview of the state government.

On the proposed land swap, the 64-year-old state monarch stressed that land marked as river reserves should remain so.

He said nobody should be allowed to build houses on the river reserve land.

He said the government can “contra” the land and its value, similar to a land swap, in these flood-prone areas.

“This means not giving five acres if they have five acres of existing land,” he was quoted as saying.

Sultan Ibrahim suggested that the government subsidise the cost of labour to build new homes or help create new housing areas to relocate the flood victims.

He gave an example if a victim has six acres of land but it was located next to the river, then there was no value to the said land.

“There are many things that could be worked out including giving victims a one-acre plot, a 15 per cent subsidy for a new house or negotiating with the banks to provide lower interest rates to them,” he told the newspaper.

He said that every 10 to 20 years, there is bound to be bad flooding in Johor, similar to what happened in 2006, 2011 and recently.

“Anyway, it is the government’s responsibility to relocate people to flood relief centres when the need arises,” he was quoted as saying.

Sultan Ibrahim said Malaysia needs to address the annual flooding problems due to the changing climate, which is causing water levels to rise.

The recent flood disaster in Johor has been described as among the worst flood disaster to have hit the state, affecting 10 districts.

At its peak earlier this month, more than 85,000 people in Johor were reported to have been affected by the floods.

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