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PSM: Penang govt must solve Kg Buah Pala issue

PETALING JAYA, 3 July 2009: The Penang government needs to intervene and solve the Kampung Buah Pala issue even though the problem was caused by the previous Barisan Nasional administration, Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) said today.

“[W]e urge the Pakatan Rakyat government to resolve this issue politically using the mandate given by the people of Penang to them in the last election,” PSM secretary-general S Arutchelvan said in a statement today.

He said the party did not believe in a legal solution as there have been precedents in other cases where the courts ultimately favoured the rich and powerful.

He said PSM believed that the Kampung Buah Pala residents, who have lived in the village for decades, have a legitimate right to the disputed land.

“The historical facts support their existence and their right over the land,” said Arutchelvan, who visited the village yesterday with PSM national deputy chairperson M Saraswathy and other party leaders.

Describing the village settlement as “old, traditional, and very beautiful”, Arutchelvan called on the Penang government to stop all forced evictions until the state’s probe into allegations of power abuse and corruption in the land transfer was completed.

“Any forced eviction, if carried out, is going to be ugly and will have serious consequences as the people are very determined to safeguard their home, livelihood and heritage,” he said.

“We will stand by the villagers if there is any attempt to evict them forcefully,” said Arutchelvan, adding that PSM would also mobilise other settlers and organisations to stand by the villagers.

Not racial

Arutchelvan also said the issue was primarily a class dispute between the developer who had obtained the land and the villagers who have lived and developed the land for decades.

“We would denounce any attempt by any groups to stir this issue into a racial issue,” he added.

MIC has said the conflict could turn into a racial issue while Hindraf has accused Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng of neglecting the rights of Indian Malaysians in the state.

Located in the eastern part of George Town, Kampung Buah Pala, also known as High Chaparral, is the last urban village occupied by Indian Malaysians on Penang island.

The 6.4-acre site was sold for RM3.21mil to Koperasi Pegawai Kerajaan Pulau Pinang Bhd in 2007, which later joined forces with Nusmetro Ventures (P) Sdn Bhd, to develop the area.

Residents objected strongly to the development project and also appealed to former Penang Chief Minister Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon, but to no avail.

On 30 Aug 2007, the 45 families in the village received a notice requesting them to evacuate while compensation talks were still ongoing. After a series of court appeals, the Federal Court ruled in favour of the landowner and developer on 24 June 2009.

On 1 July 2009, angry residents demanded for Lim’s resignation, saying he had failed to fulfill his election promise to return villagers their land rights.

Yesterday, around 100 residents protested near the village entrance when officials attempted to enter it to serve eviction notices. The villagers were given one month notice, till 3 Aug 2009, to vacate their premises.

Yesterday, Lim also issued a warning to the developer who had threatened to send bulldozers to the village on 2 Aug 2009 to forcibly evict the residents and demolish their houses.

Today, the residents have threatened to sabotage George Town’s World Heritage status by sending a letter to Unesco should the Penang government fail to prevent the demolition of their village.

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9 Responses to “PSM: Penang govt must solve Kg Buah Pala issue”

  1. Right2Choose says:

    LGE should go down to the ground and try to get this issue solved. But the residents should not make such threats. The Penang state government should try its best to see what can be done. They can still make it uneconomical for the developer to develop that piece of land, if there is any cultural value to saving this village. The developer could also be compensated for the amount spent but should not be allowed to make a ‘huge’ profit from this. The previous government should also be investigated for any improper dealing related to the land deal.

  2. limabc says:

    The present government can take back the land by the stroke of a pen. Who is going to pay compensation? Cost of project is RM150 million.

    Is Hindraf going to pay RM150 million ? The poor state government and the people are going to pay. Not an easy problem.

    Just move out and get some compensation. And at the same time ask the state government for new plots to replace the land.

  3. SpeakUp says:

    Arutchelvan is not looking into the RIGHTS of the villagers. He only says … maintain status quo to investigate abuse of power or corruption … why can’t he say something that can show the villagers have some rights over the land? Why not a sliver of evidence?

    So what if KSK allowed some cronies to have the land? So what if he sold all of it for RM1 only? That has no bearing on the villagers’ rights to occupy. If there is any abuse of power or corruption then GO AND REPORT to the police or MACC.

  4. Nirman says:

    It’s an old story. The court has decided. What can the Penang Government do to stop the court order? To the Kampung Buah Pala people, you all are luckier then us in Sabah and Sarawak. We got smaller compensation, you know. Don’t be too greedy. For example the Ibans lost much of their lands (NCR) to the Sarawak Government in the name of development for FREE! Please think positively dear fellow Kampung Buah Pala friends.

  5. ravianan says:

    Today, the residents have threatened to sabotage George Town’s World Heritage status by sending a letter to Unesco should the Penang government fail to prevent the demolition of their village.

    – Let’s start a signature campaign.

  6. fievelski says:

    “Today, the residents have threatened to sabotage George Town’s World Heritage status by sending a letter to Unesco should the Penang government fail to prevent the demolition of their village.”

    Is this how they think would solve their problems? This is like trying to sell the country because the ELECTED government fails to manage the country. What the heck? You don’t have to sell the country lah. Kick out the ELECTED government and ELECT a new one lah. This sounds like a betrayal to Penang state to me.

  7. tanyoongfatt says:

    The PR govt should just get down to solving the issue. By blaming the previous administration to absolve their responsibility, it only shows that they are not ready to govern. They should know that there will be a lot [to handle] when they take over. By clearing the mess of the previous administration, it will give the Rakyat the confidence in them to be able to clear the even bigger mess of the federal govt come the 13GE.

  8. ganesh says:

    While there is no doubt that this mess is due to the shennanigans of the previous government, and rest assured there are more skeletons in the cupboard, it is imperative that Pakatan shows it can do something to solve this impasse. No point appealing to the federal government. They’ll do zilch.

    After all, before GE12, Gerakan and Koh Tsu Koon were on record saying they had no qualified Indian [Malaysian] candidates for MP or Adun positions….

  9. Hong says:

    Just wondering if Kampung Buah Pala does not have some sort of de facto, if not de jure, claim over the land given that they have lived on and developed it for over a century?

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