Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Kg Buah Pala demolition pushed to tomorrow - Malaysiakini

The two major protaganists in the Kampung Buah Pala issue adopted contradictory stands today with the developer saying it was in no rush to destroy the houses there while the landowner declaring it would be done tomorrow.

According to the Chinese language daily Guangming the developer, Nusmetro Ventures said that it could wait before destroying the 23 houses in the village.

But Bernama reported that the landowner, the Penang Government Officers Cooperative, had decided to postpone the plan to tomorrow to give the villagers more time to evacuate.

Cooperative chairperson Abdul Razak Mansor added that the decision was taken on compassionate grounds, to allow the residents some time to move out and transfer their belongings.

Moreover, he reiterated that the cooperative which met yesterday, will not share the 2.6ha plot with the villagers, as suggested by Chief Minster Lim Guan Eng.

"Why must we share the land with the villagers when the land is ours and the court has also ruled in our favour," he asked.

"The state has never discussed this issue with us before, and now all of sudden Lim suggested that we share the plot.

"They are merely their political promises, so why should the cooperative abide by them?" asked Abdul Razak.

Luxury condominium project

The villagers face eviction to pave the way for luxury condominium project, called the Oasis, to be built by Nusmetro Venture.

Nusmetro had earlier agreed to put off the demolition for a month after winning a court order, although the delay has now lapsed, there is appears to be no resolution in sight to the dispute.

Yesterday, the cooperative had remained adamant that the houses would be demolished today.

Abdul Razak said Nusmetro had been instructed to obey the Federal Court decision, which has granted ownership of the land.

"We are not cruel, but our decision to demolish the village still stands because the court has decided the land is ours," he had said.

Meanwhile, Lim warned the cooperative to not jump the gun by demolishing the houses until a amicable solution is reached by both parties.

"If the cooperative is adamant on tearing down the houses, the state government has no choice but revoke the development order," Lim told reporters this morning.

300 gather to protest against demolition
Meanwhile with the deadline to vacate the land expiring yesterday around 300 people gathered at the village at around 10am today to protest the move .

Among them were members of the banned-Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), MIC, Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) and non-governmental organisation Jerit.

However, despite waiting for almost two hours, there was no sign of the developers but there is no guarantee that the demolition will not take place although the Penang government had held back the revocation of development order last week.

According to journalists on the ground at that time there were no bulldozers, police or local council officers at the site.

The protesters left the village at 11.45am and proceeded to Komtar to submit a memorandum to Lim.

The residents accompanied by the NGOs and political groups then proceeded to Komtar to meet with Lim to submit another memorandum pleading the state government acquire the land.

The document was handed to Lim's political secretary Ng Wei Aik, as the former was not present.

Villagers want gov't to buy back land

In the memorandum signed by the villagers, they had stated that the Penang Government Officers Cooperative, the sole owner of the Kampung Buah Pala land, cannot transfer the land for development purposes.

It further stated that the DAP state government can buy back the land by paying the premium of RM3.2 million.

The villagers and civil societies have argued that the site is a 200-year-old Indian traditional village, which is also popularly known 'High Chaparral' due to its population of cowherds, cattle, goats, other live stocks, and lively Tamil cultural features and festivities.

The villagers had appealed to the Unesco's Paris Desk to recognise the village as a heritage site.

On July 31, they received a written assurance from the World Heritage Centre's Asia Pacific Unit chief Giovanni Boccardi, that the centre would study the appeal and consult with relevant Malaysian authorities and Icomos, an advisory body to the centre.