Top fine for razing JB heritage home
A LANDOWNER in Johor will be slapped with the maximum fine of RM500,000 (S$192,000) after illegally demolishing a 150-year-old heritage mansion that once belonged to philanthropist Wong Ah Fook.
The demolition was done in the middle of the night last Wednesday.
The summons would be issued by the Johor Baru City Council under its Planning Act to the landowner, who is living in Singapore.
Johor Baru City Council (MBJB) chief whip Yahya Jaafar said the owner might have been worried that the state government would acquire the land at a price lower than the market value and thus hastily demolished the mansion.
The owner wanted to develop a commercial property in its place, reported Malaysia's The Star.
"The land in the Jalan Lumba Kuda area in the city centre where the mansion stood is worth a lot due to the surrounding development under Iskandar Malaysia," said Mr Yahya on Sunday.
It is learnt the land could be worth RM30 million.
Mr Yahya said the acquisition process would usually take some time and the landowner might have been trying to take advantage of that.
He said that no proposed building plans have been submitted to MBJB yet.
There was also no application for a permit to demolish the building, reported the New Straits Times.
"This is a standard procedure for landowners who wish to expand, renovate or demolish a building or house," said Mr Yahya.
Mr Wong Ah Fook, after whom the city's main street is named, was the chief government contractor who built some of the most recognisable heritage buildings in Johor. He was born in 1837 and died in 1918 at the age of 81.
The city council is investigating the illegal demolition and the Johor Baru mayor would issue a summons to the owner soon, said Mr Yahya.
The chairman of the Johor Baru Chinese History and Heritage Museum, Tan Chai Puan, said the incident had prompted a non-governmental organisation to start making an inventory of all the historical buildings in the state, especially in Johor Baru.
THE NEW PAPER