Association History

Early History leading to the formation of PEJUTA.

Dr. Khoo Boo Kheanby Dr. Khoo Boo Khean

 As Pejuta is an organisation of Licensed Land Surveyors (LLS), it makes sense for me to trace back the pre-1974 story of how those LLS carried out their practices and their well (or rather their bad) being in pre-PEJUTA years, so as to understand why a few of us were prompted to form this organization to quickly save the land surveying profession from going down the drain. I must admit that my continuous and active participation in the Royal Institution of Surveyors Malaysia (RISM) in a host of capacities for 27 years (1964-1991) and as Board member of Lembaga Jurukur Tanah (LJT) for 8 years (1975-1983) have afforded me the advantage and privilege or rather being there at the right time and right place to carry out this present sacred duty with ease.

Prior to 1958, cadastral or title surveys could only be carried out by the State Survey Departments of Malaya. However post Independence witnessed the Licensed Land Surveyors Ordinance 1958 to be enacted to authorize the licensing of suitably qualified land surveyors to carry out title surveys on behalf of Survey Departments. Accordingly, with their main business in the initial years was the fragmentation of rubber plantations, some nine surveyors who became the pioneer Licensed Land Surveyors in Malaya namely,

William Gerald Brittain (Licenced on 05/05/59),

Bennam Bernard Francis (Licenced on 18/05/59),

Yeoh Ho Huat (Licenced on 22/07/59),

Tan Tock Yong (Licenced on 03/11/59),

Lau Choon Theam (Licenced on 04/11/59),

Maidin bin Manap (Licenced on 22/02/60),

Nagana Badalgei Chandrapada (Licenced on 13/15/60),

Brain Archibald Parsons (Licenced on 26/08/60) and

Francis Emil George Caswell (Licenced on 02/09/60).

It was my belief that soon after the Independence of Malaya in 1957, many of the foreign rubber companies wanted to liquidate their assets but their plantations of thousands of acres were far too big for the local citizens to swallow wholesale. So the fragmentation of big rubber estates was the main-stay for those early Licensed Land Surveyors. Those purchasers of smaller fragmented estates particularly those living in and around KL, e.g. the Ng families turned themselves to be super rich families when urbanization crawled into their land, when their land banks, to name a few such as Bukit Kiara, Sri Hartamas, Bukit Bangsar, Damansara Heights etc have increased their worth by 500 times or more today. The LLS did pretty well then and were very comfortable in their living but soon this type of surveying activities came to an end and so was the surveying of mining leases when tin mining activity was ground to a halt soon after 1960’s .

There was hardly any form of sizable housing development from the Independence (1957) till 1965 until the National Land Code 1965 was enacted, simply because under the previous Land Survey Ordinances which was strictly based on the Torrens System, no title to land could be issued until and unless the cadastral survey was done on the said land.  It was a big stumbling block to the pressing housing needs demanded by the rapid population growth and active immigration to the capital city, Kuala Lumpur.  Whereas under the new National Land Code 1965, Qualified Title (QT), a new invention to be under the Torrens System could be issued prior to the final survey.

This change witnessed the bigger housing developments came into being, as QT can be quickly prepared and valuable legal documents were there to assist the developers  to get bridging financial support and the purchasers to get their mortgages more easily from the financial institutions or banks. This was a good phenomenon as it led to even growth of wealth and prosperity among the citizens as well as the country itself. But it could not be said for the LLS who provided the QT and who facilitated the growth. WHY? Let me explain. Soon after the unfortunate May 13, 1969 incident, the housing boom started in and around KL and PJ,  big housing estates as Happy Gardens, SEA Parks, Paramount Gardens and Overseas Union Gardens came into being.

And the local early LLS as Yeoh Ho Huat and Lau Choon Thiam, etc. (at that time most of the expatriate LLS had retired and returned to their native land) had good times in getting these housing projects by helping to issue thousands of QT to facilitate the Sales and Purchases but if you looked hard into it, there were hardly any actual title survey done on the ground. Even though there was such fees of 70 ringgit per terrace lot prescribed by the RISM, but hardly any LLS followed that scale of fees.

As Secretary General of RISM for many years and continuously active in RISM for 27 years and being in LJT for  8 years (1975-1983), serving 4 Survey Director General, namely, the late Sr. Kok Swee Tuck, Sr. Dato Paul Foo, Sr. Yee Shin Cheong and the late Sr. Leong Yip Sun , it was my interest and my privilege to find out why the LLS at that time were not doing well financially and did not carry out their professional work ethically. I discovered that the LLS were usually quoted RM40/lot  but back then the housing developers would only RM10/lot to the LLS for demarcation survey commencement, RM10/lot for lot pegging for the purpose of construction and RM10/lot upon housing project completion. But what happened to the last RM10/lot fees? The answer was to forget about it for if you had insisted, you would not get any future survey jobs from them!

This forced the LLS to cut corners as they had insufficient funds to engage adequate number of staffs, particularly the field surveyors whose salary were substantially higher. The LLS merely produced the precomputational QT and did not even bother to carry out any final field survey to produce field books nor carrying out any final computation for the purpose of drafting the title plans for submission to Survey Departments as technical records. The result was that thousands of QT were flying in the market, without any form of title survey to record their legally known locations.

If you care to check the standard sheets of the Selangor Survey Department in the 60’s and even as late as 2000, the Happy Gardens, Paramount Gardens, OUG developments etc. were still blank spaces purported to be rubber estates even though the houses were already in existence for the last 20 or 30 years. How are we as LLS of present time to define those individual lots without any survey records in the Survey Department? I knew these facts well enough as I was the Chief Surveyor of PKNS from 1967 -1971 and carried out Title Surveys for land lots in Sections 16, 17, 13 and 19 of Petaling Jaya.

Also in 1980 when I was in my own private practice and was carrying out sub-divisional survey for Taman Sri Petaling, I could not find any title survey records for those housing estates adjacent to my title survey work. In later years, LJT had to spend a large sum of money to rectify the situation by assigning other LLS to complete those unsurveyed lots left behind by these former LLS who passed away and gone.  I knew for sure at least one of them, who in his later life, was changing his address from place to place every 3 months to run away from his creditors!  How miserable were the lives of the LLS then!

As I was a Board member of LJT, I was in a position to bring up those cases of sufferings of LLS and the malpractice by them. Together with the other two LLS in the Board then namely, the late Haji Ahmad Daud and the late Dato’ Ayob bin Saud and with the full support of the Chairman, Deputy Chairman, Chief Surveyor in the Board and the Minister of Land and Mines then, the late YB Datuk  Asri, we made it mandatory for the Title Survey fees to be deposited with LJT prior to commencement of any Title Survey work for any housing development. We did it on the grounds that proper and accurate cadastral survey is an essential and important part to:

1) Protect the Land Registration system, which paves the sure and safe way for the developers to get bridging finance and housing loans for the purchasers. The tremendous growth of house and land ownership brings with it wealth and prosperity to the citizens as well as the country.

2) Ensure the LLS must be adequately remunerated to ensure their staffs are adequately paid to properly complete the long and tedious title survey And they are suitably equipped with the appropriate instruments, proper software and up to date technical as well as legal knowledge to provide the accurate survey data as demanded by our legal system.

3) Protect the land developers in that the fees deposited by them with the LJT would not be dished out until and unless the Title Survey work is thoroughly completed by the appointed LLS  and the standard is to the full satisfaction of the Authority, namely the relevant State Survey Departments.

Accordingly in and around 1976, the three LLS who were in the LJT, namely, the late Haji Ahmad Daud, the late Tan Peng Seng and myself set in motion to organise an Association of Authorised Land Surveyors with the primary aim of keeping a close rapport among LLS and to further strengthen the position of land surveying in Malaysia. The constitution was drafted, discussed in detail and submitted to the Registrar of Societies (ROS) and the logo, subsequently designed and adopted as well. After three years of hard work and numerous meetings, the approval of the ROS was obtained. And the Inaugural General Meeting was called on June 22, 1979 in the International Room, Merlin Hotel , Kuala Lumpur with an attendance of 26 LLS. The protem chairman, Encik Ayob bin Saud, who in his inaugural speech emphasized,

“It is time and essential for the LLS to have an organization of their own in order to let each and everyone of them have proper dialogues and to act as a group. There are many things in which LLS should group together and perform as a responsible body e.g. to have a uniform training scheme for technicians, uniform salary scales, make representations to Ministries and LJT for the LLS and their employees etc.”  

The atmosphere at the meeting was cordial and those attended endorsed the statement, “United we stand, divided we fall.”

The meeting elected Dato’ Paul Foo who had just retired as the Surveyor Director General as its first Honorary Chairman, Tuan Hj Ahmad Daud as its Honorary Vice Chairman, Encik Khoo Boo Khean as its Honorary Secretary, YM Raja Mohamed as its Honorary Treasurer and with the five committee members being Mr. Kok Swee Tuck, Encik Ayob bin Saud, Mr. Tan Peng Seng, Mr. Siew Hoong Chong and Tuan Syed Hussien bin Ibrahim. The Pejuta Executive Council met regularly, most the time at the Honorary Secretary’s office at Wisma Central, Kuala Lumpur.

Much achievements were made, among others in:

1) Prescribing the salary scales for the employee, articled pupil, etc. A few meetings were spent to formulate the scales of salary and forwarded to members to implement. But there was no way to monitor the compliance and to gauge success of our efforts. Anyway, the quick economic advancement of Malaysia has almost instantly made the scale redundant and obsolete. In another word, it did not work at all.

2) Secured a RM20,000 launching grant from LJT. The Surveyor Director General then was Mr. Yee Shin Cheong.

3) Prescription of survey fee for engineering surveys. The RISM is truly a very useful platform to get professional activities done because the members among others, senior officers of Public Works Department (JKR) who comprised of Quantity Surveyors (QS), senior officers of the Treasury who are valuers, senior members of Ministry of Land and Natural Resources who are land surveyors and senior members in the Local Authorities, who are building surveyors. Let me demonstrate it here: Being the Secretary of PEJUTA and Council member of the ISM, I was entrusted to prepare a draft of Scale of Fee for engineering surveys. In order to get the scale of fee accepted and approved by the Treasury, I must first go through the proposed scale with the engineers from JKR (water and road engineers), Department of Irrigation and Drainage Malaysia (DID), and Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB). What I did was to get Sr. Datuk VG Dass, the Director General of Valuation in the Treasury to make appointment with the new Director General of Treasury Dato’ Hussieni who turned out to be my old friend whom I met when he was a National Operations Council (NOC) officer for DBKL after the May 13 incident. From Dato’ Hussieni, I got to know YM Raja Kamaruddin who was directly in charge of all professional services. He accordingly, summoned up some 15 senior Engineers from JKR, DID, water works and TNB to discuss the Scale of Fee for engineering survey purposes with me.

The first meeting was a total disaster! Just imagine, one surveyor meeting up with some 15 senior engineers of multi disciplines. Everyone had their own ideas of how to prescribe fees, even though they did not have any clue of the stages of surveying works to be done; what types of equipment were available and how they could be effectively deployed. On top of that, they could not agree among themselves on essence and requirement of the classification of engineering survey. As you know for DID, precise level is the key requirement in their type of survey and salient features to be picked up, such as river, swamp, coastlines are not so well defined and exact. Whereas in the engineering survey for road, bridges and structure construction, such features have to be precisely picked up and defined.

Those present practically dismissed the draft Scales of Fee prepared! I went back to YM Raja Kamaruddin to request him to invite engineers from one Department at a time. This time around I saw progress as I could discuss with the engineers from a single background and worked out the procedure and therefore fees for their type of surveying work. It took me at least 7 or 8 rounds of meeting, to ultimately come out with the Scale of Fee for engineering survey purposes in 1980 and I believe it was not revised until almost 20 years later.

4) Programme for training of survey technicians. This vision I must say worked out very, very well indeed as you would have noticed that, PEJUTA and LJT have been conducting training courses for staff of LLS continuously, in both non-technical and technical courses and training modules.

5) Solving of land and survey related issues. PEJUTA has never failed to discharge these type of duties incumbent upon them either alone or with the cooperation of LJT, e.g. the enactments of various Acts which affect land surveying profession dearly.

In conclusion, this article of mine hopes to enlighten the younger generation of LLS who needs to know how so few of us had done so much for so many of you.  Out of the three of us who kick-started the  PEJUTA, two, namely the late Tuan Hj Ahmad Daud, the late Tan Peng Seng have sadly, left this world and I am the only one left to relate the story with a sincere appeal to members of PEJUTA that we should not kill the goose which lays the golden eggs. So much effort had been made to allow us and our profession to stand tall. Please unite, behave and stick to our code of ethics and our prescribed Scale of Fee. Let us share this worthy profession with each other, particularly the younger ones. If 500+ of us is too big to work together, why not join hands with 3 or 4 or even more of your friends and have group practice, where it can provide a solid base to employ properly-paid staff, give more free time to partners to have quality time with family and to be able to contribute their time, skill and talent in our professional bodies as RISM, PEJUTA, ASEAN Flag and even FIG. Not to mention many other voluntary organizations as Rotary, Lions etc which aims to do good for community and society!

Remember, development and urbanization is taking a very fast pace in our country and certainly, there will be enough of surveying work for all of us. So let us share the cakes, stick to the proper fees, pay our staffs well and ultimately build a good profession to benefit the country and citizens, including ourselves. The three of us who founded the PEJUTA did it and I am sure you all could do the same if not better.

Now that PEJUTA as an organization is pursuing very well indeed the “aims and objectives ” set out by the founders in :

1) Providing all types of technical, administrative and accounting training to our supporting staff and Continuous Education and Professional Development (CEPD) courses to ourselves;

2) Supporting and upgrading our technical skills and abilities by from time to time providing state of art surveying hardware and software

3) Working in conjunction with the LJT \ keeping up to date on the procedure and Scales of Fee for various types of surveying works.

But as an individual LLS, can we honestly say that we are keeping up with the technology demanded of us and are we keeping in compliance all the ethics and fees prescribed on us? Please put our hands on our hearts and answer to ourselves. I don’t think so! So how are we going to make our profession an honorable and noble one and all of us are held in high esteem with good social standing in the society? The key statement expressed in the inaugural general meeting of PEJUTA on June 22, 1979 said it all, “UNITY IS STRENGTH!”.

Yours truly,

Dr. Khoo Boo Khean