Building a port in Malaysia?

Someone posted a question through the comment section and the question is "How would one go about and build a port in Malaysia?"

When I got this question today, I actually have not even finished with the post introducing who I am to the world. However, let me break the monotony and answer this question with a few pointers first. This question can never be answered in total as it depends on the purpose of building the port.

The person who send in this question is lucky as I did have some experience with a few clients who were operating some kind of ports in the state of Selangor a few years ago. As you might know, the 'official' ports in Selangor is in Klang, hence even the name of one of the county in Klang is Port Klang. There are a few port in Klang, which is named depending on their location such as West Port, North Port, you get the idea.

In the cases of my clients, they owned ports for barges to dock and unload their cargo. Some of these barges come from Sumatra on their own and some are the type of barges which operate between ships, which cannot dock near shores due to their sizes. There are also barges which send cargo to and fro from West Malaysia to East Malaysia. Their ports are not as big as the one in Port Klang but the procedure for them to set up their port is the same.

The first thing that they need to do is to apply for temporary occupation license (TOL) for the pieces of lands which is considered as the riverbanks or which separate the lands and the sea. I have trouble explaining these areas as I am not sure what is the correct term for them. In the National Land Code, no one can own beach around Malaysia. This include the part of the land between your own land and the sea or the river. They are considered as river reserve and they are govern by the land office within the area.

You need to apply for these lands through the form reserve for Temporary Occupation License and pay the premium for them once it is approve. You need to state the reason for your application and it will only be approved if the current administration allow you to get a license for a port, which is a different application altogether, to a different department. At the time which I was involved with my clients, there was an embargo for the license for any port which does barter trading (apparently barter trading is still big in most ports of the world and is big business). The TOL has to be paid yearly. It will also be prudent for you to own the land adjacent to the TOL land as you may need space for your cargo to be stored (like what my client did) or at least rent the land.

In the case of Selangor, the final authority in granting a license for a new port is the Economic Planning Unit for Selangor or Unit Perancang Ekonomi Negeri Selangor. They are the one which can approve your license and decide whether it will be beneficial for the state of Selangor to grant another license for another port within Selangor. The approval is not going to come from them but from the State Executive Councilors (which is the Cabinet of the state government) but the paperwork and recommendation will come from them. They would also require you to get recommendation from the Land Office where the port is supposed to be. I think the place for the port needs to be within an area designated by the state government but as long as there is no objection from adjacent lands.

In certain cases, if the place where the proposed port may effect the environment within an area, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report maybe required and for this you have to go through the Department of Environment of the particular state where you intend to operate.

That is basically how you build a port in Malaysia, through legal means. To summarise :

1) Buy the lands or rent the lands adjacent to the proposed site;
2) Apply for Temporary Application License for the lands beside the riverbanks or sea from the Land Office;
3) Apply for the license to operate a port from the Economic Planning Unit;
4) No. (2) and (3) usually goes hand in hand and one needs the recommendation of one for the other;
5) EIA maybe required by the DOE if the operation of the port expect to affect the environment within the area.


Who is this guy behind 'Ask the Lawyer?'

I took this excerpt regarding 'Who am I' from my Professional Practice Paper for my Masters degree, which is my final paper for me to graduate with an Islamic finance qualification. In that PPP, I need to relate how my business has anything to do with Islamic finance. I am now trying to kill 2 birds with 1 stone by writing this PPP and writing this blog post (Read why here).

Before I continue, the rules in Malaysia regarding lawyers advertising their service is that I cannot say I am good at what I do. I cannot even solicit for business or tell of the victory that I have achieved in courts or other places. This will be very bland and matter of fact. Here is my story :

Going to the very basic (as this is an academic paper), I was a student during my secondary school years of Sekolah Menengah Agama Persekutuan which was a full boarding school in which Arabic language were taught and a must for all students to pass before we can pass high school. I took my law degree at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (National University of Malaysia) after passing my matriculation between 1994 until 1998. Again, Arabic is a must-pass subject and we were also taught the syariah aspect of the law which include the basic syariah law, Islamic criminal law, Islamic commercial law (muamalat), Islamic judicial law, Islamic evidence law and rules of syariah court in Malaysia. Through these subjects, I have managed to understand the basic regarding Islamic commercial law, which is the basis for Islamic finance and the backbone of how Islamic finance products from the basic saving accounts to the complicated sukuk are made today. 

When I graduated from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, I practiced as a lawyer in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, as a criminal lawyer. I also managed to obtain a certificate  as a syarie lawyer which is required of all lawyers who wanted to practice the syariah law in any state in Malaysia. The hierarchy and separation of law in Malaysia between conventional law and syariah law is such that all states in Malaysia are allowed to manage their own qualification for someone to practice syariah law in the court of that particular state. Some have their own judicial panel to allow lawyers to practice in that particular state syariah courts, some require those who applied to take exams and some interviews their candidate.

In my case, Negeri Sembilan (at that particular time) does not have an examination for syarie lawyer to pass to practice. They conducted interviews by a panel of syariah imminent persons which is chaired by the mufti of Negeri Sembilan and anyone who passed the interview will be issued a syarie lawyer certification and allowed to practice in the syariah court of Negeri Sembilan. I managed to pass that interview and I practiced as a syarie lawyer for 2 years in Negeri Sembilan, even when I have moved my practice to Bandar Sunway, Selangor.

In 2001, when I opened my practice in Selangor, my firm’s objective is to corner the real estate market which was the sunrise business at that particular time. As the real estate business is closely tied with the retail banking business, we also targeted banks as our clients. We send out our legal firm profiles, set up appointments, take the bankers for lunch or dinner, struck deal between bankers and developers so that they can benefited from each other and do all the things within our ambit as a lawyer to market ourselves.

The real estate market at that time was recuperating from the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis and the banks were still in the process of consolidation. Banks' staff morale are still fragile and well-known banks were 'eaten' up by smaller banks. From more than 20 banks, Malaysia were left with 11 (or was it 10) local banks. Even banks from around Asia which has branches in Malaysia consolidated themselves. We had many opportunity to market ourselves.

Other than just concentrating ourselves on real estate and banking, I still nurture myself to be able to handle a few other type of law. As this post is getting longer, let me continue that in another post....


Here goes a second try

I launched this website last December 2008. It was to compliment my book on property in Malaysia which is to be branded as 'Ask the Lawyer' series. The book is still in production due to my fascination with the blogging world and all my ideas and writing has been channeled into making sure my 2 blogs, Legal Cat-astrophe and As Good As It Gets have a post every day. Yep, every day. I managed to do that for more than a year for Legal Cat-asthrophe and As Good As It Gets is nearly there. It may not last for long but I will try to maintain that as long as I can.

Blogging  was supposed to be a hobby as I am not a techie or even a geek or even those who work in IT line. I am a lawyer, who love to read. I do have this tendency to overdo things when I come to like them. I was obsessed with PC games at one point, studying to see what grade I can get at one point, practising criminal law at one point and even collecting girlfriends at one point. After a year or two, the fad will past and I will be onto something else. I will now be turning Legal Cat-asthrophe into a business and event blog whilst maintaining As Good As It Gets as a relationship blog.

So, blogging has been fun and to tell you the truth has helped me meet new people and friends. I get to go to movie screenings, events, learn new stuff, get to know people from other countries and help me write better. I was lousy at writing a year ago (I thought I was good!). I am still in love with blogging but I am not going to be too obsess with it anymore. Time in the business world, especially the legal business in Malaysia, is tough and I need to prioritise and concentrate on the matter at hand.

This blog is a solution. Not to the whole problem but it may help me to help myself. I am offering free legal advice to anyone who has a question regarding any legal requirements or whatever law questions they have in mind. I am focusing on the law of Malaysia, West Malaysia specifically but I will try to answer or refer you to the people who can answer your question. If I cannot answer your question I will say so. If you want to email me direct, you can send your email to me at kruel74(at)gmail(dot)com.