Monday, August 10, 2009

'Don't blackmail Kg Buah Pala residents' - Malaysiakini

The Penang government has been accused of blackmailing Kampung Buah Pala residents by issuing a 'take it or leave it' ultimatum over an offer of double-storey houses as compensation for vacating the site of their village.

Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) chairperson P Waythamoorthy said he is appalled with Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for having issued his statement without righting the wrongs of the land transaction that have led to the impasse.“It seems so simple for Lim to give an ultimatum and blackmail the rightful owners of the land. If he is not sanctioning fraud, then he should acquire the land and return it to the villagers (instead of) making a deal to shortchange them,” Waythamoorthy said in a statement.

“It is a shame that the state government has been gloating about the offer which is nothing more than DAP's endorsement of a fraudulent transaction started by Barisan Nasional.”Developer Nusmetro Venture (P) Sdn Bhd withdrew the offer when the noon deadline last Friday expired. The residents rejected the offer because it came with “unacceptable conditions”

However, the state government has struck a deal with the developer not to demolish the village pending the Aug 18 court hearing on an application filed by the residents over the land transaction.Waythamoothy said Lim has not been pro-active in nullifying the “fraudulent transaction”.

“Lim knew about it before the (last general) election but instead of using his power as chief minister ( investigate it), he endorsed the transaction,” he said.“There are many legal avenues available for him to (start investigations). It's just another political game (for him).

The residents seem insignificant to him compared to the capitalist developer.”He pointed out that Section 340(2) of the National Land Code states that the title or interest of any person or body shall not be indefeasible:

in any case of fraud or misrepresentation to which the person or body, or any agent of the person or body, was a party or privy;or where registration was obtained by forgery, or by means of an insufficient or void instrument; or where the title or interest was unlawfully acquired by the person or body in the purported exercise of any power or authority conferred by any written law.

'Reveal efforts'Waythamoorthy challenged Lim to reveal his efforts to nullify the land transfer, rather than claim to be a victim of actions of the previous Gerakan-led state government.“He has demonstrated inaction and inability to initiate action - is this the example Lim wants to set for the people and his government?”Lim has already explained that his government's hands are tied because of a Federal Court ruling that the land belongs to the Penang Government Officers Cooperative Society.

He also said it would be too costly for his government to acquire the land from the cooperative society and the developer.Lim has declassified files relating to the land sale and pointed fingers at the previous state government of robbing "the residents of their land without consulting them"."So far (former CM) Koh Tsu Koon (right) has not explained why he approved this project without consulting the residents or selling it to the cooperative society at such a low price. (So) why is this aggression targeted against the Pakatan government that is trying to help (the residents)?

”Lim claimed that "a group of opportunists" who were not aware of the full picture has worsened the situation.Some 300 Indian Malaysians live in Kampung Buah Pala in Bukit Gelugor, Penang. They have been appealing to the authorities since late June to save their village, the only remaining Tamil traditional village in the state.