PENANG, 3 Sept 2009: After two previous failed attempts to demolish 23 houses in Kampung Buah Pala, developer Nusmetro Ventures (P) Sdn Bhd today succeeded in demolishing four houses.
Kampung Buah Pala villagers who were directed to vacate their houses on 1 Sept finally agreed to comply with the court order.
Nusmetro director Gary Ho said a ruckus caused by the villagers had prevented the company from demolishing 12 houses as planned.
“Twelve house owners had agreed to our offer but the opposite thing happened today.
“Villagers and several outside parties had formed a human barricade to stop the developer from demolishing the houses,” he told reporters here today.
Ho, who suffered bruises all over his body due to the ruckus, said the police had to be deployed to control the situation.
“I will seek medical treatment and then lodge a police report on the incident,” he said.
Eighteen people including three women were detained after they caused a commotion and tried to obstruct police from carrying out their duties at the site today.
Also detained was lawyer Darshan Singh who has been representing the residents to save their village.
Timur Laut district police chief ACP Azam Abdul Hamid said only five of those detained, including the three women, were residents of the village while the rest were outsiders.
“They had blocked the entrance to the village and caused a commotion in trying to prevent police, who were escorting the court bailiff and demolition team, from entering,” he told a press conference here.
Azam said in the incident, two police officers were injured after they were assaulted by members of the group that had gathered there.
He added that police were in the process of recording the detainees’ statements and that they were being investigated for rioting.
Over 100 officers from the General Operations Force and Federal Reserve Unit had gathered at the village as early as 7am.
A mobile police station was also placed at the village.
Ho was seen discussing with court bailiffs, the villagers’ representatives and the police at 9.30am.
The situation became tense at 10.30am when several bulldozers and excavators moved in to demolish the houses.
However, attempts by demolition workers to enter the village at 10.30am and noon were prevented by villagers who formed a barricade across the road leading to the village.
The rain did not hamper the villagers who shouted “Hidup Kampung Buah Pala” and “Selamatkan kampung kami”.
The villagers also shouted the names of elected representatives from the Pakatan Rakyat who had promised to save their village.
“Forced to agree”
Meanwhile, Kampung Buah Pala residents association chairperson M Sugumaran said the villagers had accepted the court order.
“We are forced to agree as the state government is of no help. We are disappointed by the situation and are forced to accept the developer’s offer,” he said.
Earlier, following negotiations between police, the developer, the court bailiff and representatives of the residents, it was decided that the residents would leave their homes by 1 Sept.
However, when the deadline came, the villagers’ representatives said they would not move out because they did not get guarantees as to their compensation, which was to be a double-storey house worth some RM500,000 for each family.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state government was not involved in the demolition work and the villagers’ eviction from the land today.
“It has nothing to do with the state government. It is a matter for the developer and the cooperative, and involved a court order,” he told a press conference here.
Kampung Buah Pala, dubbed the “High Chapparal of Penang” sits on a 2.6 hectare land in George Town.
It is the only Indian Malaysian traditional village in the city. — Bernama