JOHOR BARU: The owner of the land where the old mansion of Wong Ah Fook previously stood, will be slapped with a maximum fine of RM500,000 for demolishing the building without a permit.
Johor Baru City Council's (MBJB) chief whip Datuk Yahya Jaffar said that the fine will be imposed under the Local Government Planning and Development Act 1963.
Yahya said this to reporters after launching the World Laughter Day 2014 at Taman Merdeka here this morning.
He added the owner, a Johorean residing in Singapore, had probably acted in haste after learning that the state government was in the process of declaring the mansion to be a historical site.
Johor Baru's 150-year-old dilapidated mansion belonging to philantropist and contractor Wong Ah Fook
which was still in tact several days ago. NSTP/Roslan Khamis
"If that really happens, the owner would not be able to do anything with the land," he said.
It is learnt the land measuring 1.1 acres could be worth RM30 million in the market.
Yahya said no proposed building plans have been submitted to MBJB yet.
He added there was also no application for a permit to demolish the building as well.
Johor Baru's 150-year-old mansion belonging to philantropist and contractor Wong Ah Fook
which was demolished late Wednesday. NSTP/Roslan Khamis
On Wednesday night, the 150-year-old mansion was demolished despite efforts made to preserve the building by various parties.
Johor's iconic philanthropist and contractor Wong Ah Fook, whose name was etched in Johor's modern history with a road named after him, had previously lived in the mansion.
Wong, who had close ties to the then state ruler Sultan Abu Bakar in the mid-1800s, had built some of the most recognisable heritage buildings in Johor, including Istana Besar, Balai Zaharah, the residence of the state's first menteri besar, Datuk Jaafar Mohamed, at Bukit Senyum and the Johor Baru prison in Jalan Ayer Molek.
Earlier, community leaders from the Johor Baru Tiong Hua Association rallied together to prepare a formal appeal to the Johor Menteri Besar's office, albeit, a tad too late.
Following the demolition of the building, the Johor Baru Chinese History and Heritage Museum chairman Tan Chai Puan said the incident had prompted a non-governmental organisation (NGO) to start making an inventory of all the historical buildings in the state, especially in Johor Baru.
Chuah Bee Kim | firstname.lastname@example.org NST Latest 150-year-old-historical-wong-ah-fook-man