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FT Land and Mines: Convent Bukit Nanas land lease not renewed to ensure it becomes fully-aided govt school

KUALA LUMPUR (April 20): In the latest development of the saga over the Convent Bukit Nanas (CBN) issue, the Federal Territories Land and Mines Office today clarified that the school will be spared demolition when its lease expires as “the land it sits on will revert to the government so it can be gazetted as a fully-aided government school”, The Star reported today.

Director Datuk Muhammad Yasir explained that the “decision not to renew” CBN's lease was so that the “iconic school” becomes a “fully-aided government school, which would enable it to receive all the benefits it needs for the future”.

"Right now, CBN is partially aided and it is a very old school. It will benefit more if it was made a fully-aided government institution," Yasir told the daily.

Yasir added that CBN “would remain a school” and there would not be any development on the land where the school is located and that there was “nothing sinister about the issue (of not renewing the lease)”.

"However, if the school board (Lady Superior of the Society of Saint Maur) wants to continue operating the school, they can appeal to the Federal Land Commissioner who owns the land lease.

"If they choose to do so, the school may not be able to enjoy the full benefits that come with being a fully aided government school, '' Yasir explained further.

It was reported yesterday that the High Court granted leave to CBN to mount a challenge against the non-renewal of its land lease which is due to expire on Sept 6 this year

However, its application for a stay pending the disposal of this judicial review will only be heard on May 4, 2021.

“The applicant [Lady Superior of the Society of Saint Maur] that runs the school made an oral application to substitute the Federal Territories director of Land and Mines (PTG) to the Land executive committee for the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur.

“Following this, the parties representing the school also applied for extension of time to make the amendments. Senior federal counsel M Kogilambigai did not oppose both oral applications to amend the respondent,” said Damien Chan, one of the lawyers appearing for the school.

Weighing in on the issue was former Minister of International Trade and Industry Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, who urged the government to convert the leasehold title of CBN to preserve the heritage institution.

Convent Bukit Nanas — which comprises two primary schools and  Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Convent Bukit Nanas (SMKCBN) — was established by Christian missionaries in 1899, thus making it one of the oldest schools in the city, and is inside the heritage zone.

However, the present judicial review applies to SMKCBN and not the two primary schools.

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