The ‘Enakmen Rezab Melayu’ was constituted in 1913 to safeguard land attributed to the Malay Peninsular, especially the property rights of the indigenous population. The colonisation of the Malay Peninsular by the British acts as a cornerstone in the nation building. Prior to that, individual states have had their own land laws pertaining to the protection of the indigenous property rights.

The formation of the federation became the catalyst for the regularisation of the land law including the inclusion and interpretation of Enakmen Rezab Melayu (ERM). The amendments to this law have brought about concerns over the sustainability of the MRL.

Will the new law spell out explicitly the terms of the lease to be executed between the MRL owner and non-Malay lessee? Will the authority vet these leases before giving final approval? And, will non-Malay lessees be required to pay a deposit to the owners or the authorities as a guarantee that they could perform their obligations, so that the interests of the MRL owners are safeguarded?

Indeed, very little is known about this proposed new law, apart from what has been reported in the local media.

MRL owners have been left in the dark, drifting between speculation and conjecture as to where the authorities are taking them; Will it safe harbour, or turbulent waters?