Can reclaimed land be converted from leasehold to freehold?


I asked a senior lawyer about provisions of the National Land Code relating to the shoreline and what the status of reclaimed land would be.

This was the interpretation (without prejudice) of the relevant sections of the Code that I received:

The relevant sections under the National Land Code (NLC) relating to shoreline, foreshore and sea-bed are as follows:

1. Section 5 interpretation:
– “shore line”  means the high-water mark of ordinary spring tides;
– “foreshore”  means all that land lying between the shore line and the low-water mark of ordinary spring tides;

2. Section 49 provides that where the shore-line advances so as to encroach on any alienated land, the area affected by the encroachment shall thereupon cease to form part of that land, and shall become State land, but the boundaries of alienated land shall not be affected by any retreat of the shore-line.

3. Section 51 classifies land under two categories namely-
(a) land above the shore-line which consists of town land, village land and country land;
(b) foreshore and sea-bed.

From my reading of sections 5, 49 and 51, it is clear that any land below the shore-line (which includes foreshore and sea-bed) is State land.

4. Section 76 empowers the State Authority to alienate State land:
(a) for a term not exceeding ninety-nine years [leasehold];
(aa) in perpetuity [freehold]–
(i) to the Federal Government or to a public authority; or
(ii) where the land is to be used for a public purpose; or
(iii) where the State Authority is satisfied that there are special circumstances which render it appropriate to do so.

A proviso was added to s.76 in 1985 which reads:
“Provided that nothing in paragraph (aa) shall enable the State Authority to dispose of any part of the foreshore or sea-bed for a period exceeding ninety-nine years;

Section 76 was amended by Parliament in 1985 by the insertion of a proviso to expressly prohibit the State from disposing of “any part of the foreshore or sea-bed for a period exceeding ninety-nine years”.

Hence, once the foreshore or sea-bed has been alienated by the State under s.76 as leasehold land, the State is bound by the restriction in that proviso.

Any subsequent conversion of the status from leasehold to freehold by the State, notwithstanding that the foreshore or sea-bed have now been reclaimed, would be tantamount to an attempt to circumvent the restriction in s. 76 and hence be ultra vires the NLC.

I assume all these provisions of the law are to protect public interest and to safeguard access to the coastline for the needs of the population – fisheries, recreation, defence.

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Ah Soon Khor The japs and yankees can build a high tech factory here, dumping billions of money. If they quit, they can dismantle and ship it to Viet cong or Burma and start to make billions in other countries after making billions here. If the State Government pay to reclaim the land, then the reclaimed land has to be leasehold just like RICH Sinkapore Government even has to knock down the EIA reports. But when private companies invest into these area, Ah Soon Khor can help them to move the soil back to another contries just like the dismantled… Read more »


Ah Soon Khor can make it happen overnight. All he needs is to will it and its done. There are dreamers and there are doers.

Sze Tho

He behaves/talks as if he knows it all. At the same time, we can all see him pursuing a personal vendetta against LGE for his only reasons. This forum has been turned into his personal sounding board. Does someone like this have any credibility? It is a sign of a true coward and hypocrite to condemn without accountability (kick up a fuss and make noise here, but dare not pursue legal/other actions when he claims he has all the facts). Just goes to show… is cheap.


Anil very interesting. Can the public take up the case to the Court? However, what is the use? How many good and credible judges we have now???

Ah Soon, if i am not mistaken the reclaimed land in Seri Tanjung was converted to freehold even before 2008? Find out please. TQ!

Reclaimed land should be forever leasehold. Anyway, laws are made by man also to suit oneself.


Yes let’s join hands to fight this manipulation and twist.


What about land reclaimed from mangrove swamp and mining pool? Is there any precedent that they become freehold when they are water and become soil?

Ong Eu Soon

Is the freehold status of Bayan Mutiara’s future reclaimed land also converted by KTK? If reclaimed land should be forever leasehold as you said why you are so hesitate to criticise your political idol? Why you allow LGe to perpetuate the wrong of KTK by converting all the future reclaimed lands into freehold?


Ah Soon, just one question, kittycat46 has pointed out that the various reclaimed projects were converted to freehold status by the previous Gerakan/BN govt. Where were you then??? Had been a big Zombie for the past 2 decades and suddenly wake up to find out that Penang is sinking and start getting panic??? If you were as alert and attentive before as you are now, then, today, Lim Guan Eng does not have to spend his 1st term cleaning the big MESS (18 years’ debris, can you imagine that???) left by the previous government. Yes, i respect Lim Guan Eng… Read more »


If no foreshore then it become another Penang Port and more visit from US aircraft carrier as they can berth as there is no foreshore and hence more tourists. Australia is going to allow Yankees to set base. More Yankees more will come to penang. Another fantastic plan by developers.

No foreshore, means more cost to build straight wall quays or decked platforms. So developers think twice if they think they are smart trying to get way. Of course if the water front is for boats like marina, then it is pointless to have foreshor.


Aaayy..whatever it is…once the gold runs out and the bubble burst…mark my words…these reclaimed projects will ceremoniously one by one become a burial at sea…savvy

Ong Eu Soon

Here the problem is when developers reclaim any lands they make sure that the shoreline is high above the water, then they claim that there is no foreshore land. That is how after becoming CM, out LGe helps developers to interpret the foreshore land. Until it is under judicial review, it will be difficult for us to stop LGe continuing to interpret the law on his own free will.


If that’s what & how LGE does, then let’s (criticise) him. Don’t give face. Oppose. He is not suppose to take care of the developers but the rakyat.


Come on…don’t damage your own credibility. The awarding of Freehold status to projects like Queensbay, The Light, Seri Tanjung Pinang (E&O Properties) were all done before March 2008 by the previous State Government. Current engineering standards for reclaimed land require a higher build up level than, say, 20 years ago. There is a greater awareness of the problem of rising sea levels and also protection against storm damage. Probably buys additional few decades of life to the property. If the worst case scenario for global warming comes true, most of Georgetown will be gone, underwater in another 70 years, anyway.… Read more »


‘Tis a classic case of progress without thinking. Without anticipating what if or what’s going to happen. Without integrating development for what is necessary and what is urgently needed. Without listening to the people wanting what is more important. Except listening to the sleepless, greedy developers of wannabe Forbes magazine list of the rich and famous. Tell me: In the event of a global catastrophe (man-made or act of war) of relentless rise in sea level, what is Rocket Chance going to do about it? All it takes is blasting a hole in the already thin ozone layer over the… Read more »

Ong Eu Soon

When KTK done something wrong, it is for LGe to right the wrong, not for him to perpetuate the wrong by converting the site for PDC Heritage Hotel to freehold under no special circumstance. Read my articles of the illegal conversion at


If the foreshore has been reclaimed, this means the old boundary no longer exists. The new boundary has been pushed to the new foreshore and this new foreshore belongs to the state. Whereas the reclaim land has a new property title and your house has a legal title depending if it is leasehold or freehold. Most likely is leasehold.