Law Society repeats plea on amendment to Land Code
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
THE Law Society has repeated its plea for government to end uncertainty over a proposed amendment to the Land Code that would effectively void land ownership purchased through power of attorney.
The society’s president, Mohamad Rozaiman DSLJ Abdul Rahman, said although the policy was announced back in 2012, there has yet to be an amendment to legislation that would enforce it. “Since March 2012 up till today, the issues arising over ownership and transfer of land has remained ambiguous. It is high time we have closure on this issue,” he said during the opening of the Legal Year yesterday.
“A departmental policy should not override existing laws and legally-binding precedence. It is inappropriate for an authority to implement policies that contravene the existing law.”
The controversial policy – which effectively bans non-Bruneians from purchasing or transferring land – is aimed at creating transparency in land ownership, allowing only those eligible (Brunei citizens) to own land.
The move caused uproar among the legal community in 2012, with the Law Society saying the retroactive policy “ignored any accepted standards of the rule of law.”
All 47,000 deeds issued through power of attorney will be converted to 60-year leases and upon expiry property must be handed over to the government.
“It is our humble view that until such time the laws are amended, the present status quo in relation to ownership and transfer of land be maintained in accordance with legally-binding precedence,” Rozaiman said.
“Once these matters are resolved, it will help build confidence from investors and stakeholders.”
In an interview with The Brunei Times, the Law Society president the government should have the law in place before announcing a change in land policy.
“We’re hoping that there will be closure… At the end of the day every question or issue pertaining to ownership and transfer of land will be resolved once we have the laws.”
In the absence of a legal amendment to enforce the policy, land can still be purchased through power of attorney.
“In the Land Office, in order to do a transfer they look at your purchase agreement. Power of attorney is still being drafted and done and we still register it… the Land Office only concerns themselves with sale and purchase agreement.”
The Brunei Times