Monday, August 3, 2009

Uncertainty grips Kg Buah Pala

2031: The villagers held a candlelight vigil and have now ended their gathering. Guan Eng was not in.

“We heard on the eight o’clock news that they are definitely coming in tomorrow to demolish,” said a worried villager.

2021: About 50 villagers, many of them children, are now gathered outside the Chief Minister’s residence. This has upset the Chief Minister’s people, who believe they have been trying hard to resolve the crisis and that certain quarters are making use of the villagers for their own ends.
The villagers, meanwhile, are desperate as the Cooperative has said it will carry out demolition tomorrow.

1700: Radio news announces that the developer has “rescheduled” its demolition to tomorrow to “allow residents more time to leave”.

But the residents appear to be standing firm and they are not going anywhere. Between 50 and 100 activists and residents – some of them sitting in the porches of houses and under a canopy near the main lane cutting through the village – are keeping watch at the village. Others have called it a day.

One villager told me they had never been offered RM200,000 each as compensation. “All that was talk – we have never seen anything in writing to that effect,” he said. What they were offered earlier was an apartment worth RM75,000, along with a temporary monthly rental, or RM90,000 cash.

They residents are also worried that the proposed double-storey terrace houses which the state is said to be trying to arrange as compensation could turn out to be small cluster ‘matchbox’ houses that would be too small for their extended families. It is not uncommon for each house here to be shared by several families.

Meanwhile, many are still waiting for the final outcome of the state investigative committee’s probe into the Kampong Buah Pala land transfer. What are the political interests (if any) and developer connections behind Nusmetro Ventures (P) Sdn Bhd? Who is the contractor for the Oasis project likely to be? And in particular, who is the main shareholder – Mohamad Faridz Karim of Balik Pulau, who has close to an 80 per cent interest in Nusmetro’s parent company, Asia Link-up Sdn Bhd?

1142: About a hundred demonstrators from Hindraf, MIC and PSM are at Komtar now. They have just handed over a memo for the chief minister.