KULAI, Jan 18 — Descendants of Johor’s famed 19th century dignitary Datuk Muhammad Salleh Perang have today demanded a whopping RM300 billion worth of property which they said was owed to them by the state government.
More than 50 descendants of the Johor’s Datuk Bentara Luar — responsible for the planning and development of the southern state — made the plea, representing about 4,000 beneficiaries entitled to the claim that has spanned eight generations.
“We have the original documents (land grants) which have been confirmed that are still in the deceased’s name, and prove that he owned the assets in the state that have not been transferred,” said the group’s administrator and spokesman Mohd Zaini Aris here.
“We as the rightful beneficiaries hope this issue can be resolved in an amicable manner as there have been obstacles and disruptions by irresponsible parties that have caused the issue to be dragged on to the eighth generation.”
It was learnt that the claims have been made since 1973 by just two heirs at the time.
However, it was only in 2016 that Zaini gathered together the thousands of beneficiaries in a formal claim for the properties left behind.
A large part of the claimed inheritance are parcels of prime land located in capital Johor Baru.
In addition to that, there are also thousands of acres of land in Sungai Tiram, Gunung Pulai and also Pekan Nanas, that are said to belong to Muhammad Salleh, an iconic figure in Johor’s modern history.
Muhammad Salleh was an early state administrator holding several important posts in the Johor state government under the Father of Modern Johor, Sultan Sir Abu Bakar, and also his prince Sultan Sir Ibrahim Al Masyhur from 1856 to 1912.
He was known to be proficient in Chinese dialects, especially Teochew, which was the predominant dialect in the state at that time — rendering him close to the Chinese community in the gambier and pepper industries.
He was also the first person in then Malaya to have successfully charted the first map of Johor between 1874 and 1877.
He is credited with, among others, the development of town centres such as Bandar Maharani — now Muar — in 1888, and Batu Pahat in 1893.
He later held the position of Batu Pahat commissioner from 1894 until 1912. He died in 1915 at the age of 74.
Mohd Zaini said today that the assets that have not yet been handed over are estimated to be worth between RM200 and RM300 billion.
“Most of the land is now under the Johor state government,” he added.
Also present at the event were lawyers Mohd Hamizi Mohd Yusof and Raziyan Rahim, representing the heirs from law firm Raziyan Rahim and Associates.
Mohd Hamizi said as the heirs’ appointed legal counsel, he has applied for a suit in the courts that is still in the initial stages.
“However, there has been a minor setback as a third party has recently applied for a six-month caveat on the descendants’ claims,” he said, refusing to name the third party due to it being an ongoing case.
Malay Mail is currently seeking a response from the Johor state government.