Thursday, July 2, 2009

Frustrated villagers want Lim to quit - Malaysiakini

Kampung Buah Pala villagers in Penang have made clear their displeasure with Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng by urging him to resign over his failure to help them.

"If he can't acquire this land from the developer and preserve this village, he might as well resign from his post," said village residents' association assistant secretary C Tharmaraj.

hindraf kampung buah pala protest at dap hq petaling jaya 300609 05Speaking to reporters at the village today, Tharmaraj accused Lim of being more keen in protecting the company's interest rather than that of the people's.

He said villagers are not blaming Lim as the cause of their predicament.

He said they only want the current state government to correct the malpractices of the past government.

"Is it too much to ask? If Lim can't do this for the people who voted for his government, he should just resign and go back to his home state of Malacca," he added.

He also questioned why Lim is afraid to use legal means to solve the problem.

The villagers are facing imminent eviction as the land has been sold to a company to be developed into a high-end residential estate.

Yesterday Lim defended his government by stating that it has never consented to or approved the demolition of Kampung Buah Pala.

The chief minster said Kampung Buah Pala is still standing today because of the intervention of his state government.

He had said any action taken against the residents has been initiated by the developer after obtaining a court order.

'Stop diverting blame'

Tharmaraj hit out at Lim for trying to divert blame to the previous BN government for the controversy and Hindraf for 'sensationalising' the issue.

"Lim should stop blaming others and turning it into a communal issue," he said, noting that issue is about the rights of citizens.

He said the controversy erupted because the past and current state governments have failed to recognise the people's rightful ownership to the land.

"Lim should be honest and sincere enough to admit that he had failed to exercise his executive powers to save our village.

"He has simply ignored and neglected us for past 15 months ... did not even bother to visit our village and talk to us."

Tharmaraj also slammed Lim for listening too much to his legal adviser Faiza Zulkifli and other senior civil servants in making decisions over the controversy.

yusmaidi yusoffHe said Lim should have considered second legal opinions expressed by other lawyers such as Hindraf leader P Waythamoorthy, the village legal adviser Cecil Rajendra and even Balik Pulau parliamentarian Yusmadi Yusoff (left).

"His legal adviser is giving the wrong advice, maybe she has a conflict of interests ... who knows," he alleged.

He asked whether Lim feared a backlash from government officers if the state government were to re-acquire the land from its landowner, Koperasi Pegawai-Pegawai Kanan Kerajaan Pulau Pinang.

Tharmaraj also blasted the federal court judgment, which favoured the landowner and developer Nusmetro Venture (P) Sdn Bhd, pointing out that the three-member bench "got it all wrong" when it declared the villagers have no locus standi to bring up the matter.

Land appropriated 'by deception'

He recalled that the villagers' ancestors were brought to this place about 200 years ago as indentured labourers from South India to work in colonial estates.

He said the ancestors were given this land on free ownership by the Brown Estate Housing Trust before the Umno-dominated Malayan government turned it into a temporary occupation licence (TOL) settlement after Independence in 1957.

He said senior villagers would recall that their parents, mostly illiterate, were hoodwinked into signing documents about 50 years ago by government officers on the pretext of providing water and electricity supply to the village.

kampung buah pala penang 250609 09He said the villagers only now realised that their forefathers were duped by their own government to terminate their land ownership and turn the land into a TOL village.

In 2005, the state land office stopped TOL collections from the villagers, alienated the land under state ownership and subsequently sold it to the cooperative.

"Our very own government appropriated our land by deception.

"We have lived here for five generations, but the judges are saying we are tresspassers and squatters. Is this social justice? Is this the rule of law claimed by the chief minister?

"He can easily correct all the past wrongdoings by a single stroke of his pen. Lim should walk his talk," said Tharmaraj, who broke into tears at the end of the press conference.