Monday, July 13, 2009

High Chaparral: Hindraf to 'turn the screws' - Malaysiakini

The Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) will step up its pressure in coming weeks on the Penang government to preserve Kampung Buah Pala as a state Indian heritage village.

uthayakumar high chaparral 040709 uthaya speakExpressing disappointment that the state government failed to fulfill any of his three demands outlined last week, Hindraf leader P Uthayakumar said the movement would now turn the screws to compel the Penang government to protect the villagers' interests.

During his visit to Kampung Buah Pala Saturday, Uthayakumar spelled out three actions that the state government must take within a week to save the village, popularly known as 'Tamil High Chaparral'.

His demands were:

• Sign a purchase order to acquire the village land from its current landowner, the Senior Civil Servants Cooperative Society (Koperasi Pegawai-Pegawai Kanan Kerajaan Pulau Pinang).

• Disclose findings of its ongoing investigation into the alleged land scam involving the village.

• Reveal the court order on the dissolution of the legally-constituted Brown Housing Trust, which encompasses Kampung Buah Pala.

"We will now step up our struggle to save the village," Uthayakumar told Malaysiakini today.

However, he declined to reveal Hindraf's next plan of actions.

'CM has overreacted'

Kampung Buah Pala in Gelugor is known as the 'Tamil High Chaparral' due to the existence of cowherds, cattles, goats, other livestocks, and Tamil lively cultural features.

kg buah pala 020709 villagers protest 02The village's 300 residents now face a court eviction order after Aug 2 to pave way for a lucrative condominium project called Oasis.

Oasis' proposed developer Nusmetro Venture (P) Sdn Bhd executive director Thomas Chan has said that the company would demolish and flatten the village after the deadline.

Uthayakumar and his supporters across the country are expected to be at the village on Aug 2 to provide stiff resistance ala a Mexican standoff against the possible 'High Chaparral' demolition.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has said the state government plans to invoke provisions under the National Land Code to stop the developer from demolishing the houses.

However, Uthayakumar remained unconvinced and accused Lim of hiding behind the law to sidestep responsibility to preserve the village.

He reiterated his call on Lim to instead use Section 76 of the NLC read in conjunction with Section 3 of the Land Acquisition Act to acquire the village land from its current owner.

“Lim can end the crisis with just a stroke of a pen … undoubtedly,” he said.

Stressing Hindraf was not racist, he explained that the movement got involved in the crisis because the land dispute touched on social and natural justice.

“Hindraf's struggle was always based on universal human rights, natural and social justice.

“But Lim overreaction to our involvement turned it into a communal issue,” Uthayakumar claimed.