Thursday, October 15, 2009

High Chaparral: DCM denies demanding apology - Malaysiakini

Penang Deputy Chief Minister (2) P Ramasamy has denied demanding a public apology from the 10 Kampung Buah Pala residents who have not accepted an offer of compensation for their demolished homes.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has not made any such demand either, he told a press conference at his office today.

"I have been sympathetic to the residents from the beginning and have tried to help them in every way I could. They can always see me to settle the compensation issue," he said.

Ramasamy said the state government could not be demanding an apology from members of the public for criticism levelled at it.

"The state government is bound to be criticised for its administrative policies and actions," he said.

NONEKampung Buah Pala Residents Association chairperson M Sugumaran (left) had told reporters on Sunday that the 10 residents, including himself, had been directed to sign and read out a letter of apology.

He claimed that the apology, to be prepared by the administration, was to be addressed to Lim and others for what the villagers had said and done at the height of the Kampung Buah Pala issue.

Sugumaran also said the state government had barred him and four other office bearers of the association from entering Level 28 of Komtar (where Lim's office is located) and Level 52 (Ramasamy's office) since last week.

He named secretary Joseph Stephen Draviam, assistant secretary C Tharmaraj, assistant treasurer I Pasunagi, committee member O Selvaraj, as the others who were affected.

In addition, the 10 were told to first see Seri Delima assemblyperson RSN Rayer to facilitate negotiations, he alleged.

Ramasamy said, however, that he is not aware of either the ban or the 'see Rayer first' directive.

"I have not given such directives to anyone. I don't think my staff would have done it either ... (any) such directive was surely not from my office," he said.

Committee created

Ramasamy reiterated his eagerness to resolve the compensation matter, in order to bring the issue to a close.

On some residents facing problems in securing alternative homes, he said they could always seek his help. He said the state housing department could accommodate them in vacant public housing units, pending completion of the double-storey houses offered.

p ramasamy and dap 080905 looking onRamasamy (right) also announced the formation of a pro-tem committee for the 15 former villagers who have accepted the offer of houses. The committee is headed by R Karunakaran, a DAP member.

Asked why this is necessary when there is a registered association to represent the villagers' interests, Ramasamy said the committee is only for those who have accepted the compensation offer.

He also disclosed that the state executive council had rejected his proposal to set aside state land to rebuild Kampung Buah Pala, on grounds that it does not want to set a precedent.

Rayer, who was at the press conference, said the 10 villagers should retract their police reports and allegations against the state government.

"There must be retraction to show that what is past is past," he said.

Kampung Buah Pala, a 200-year-old Indian settlement, was demolished last month to make way for the Oasis condominium project, undertaken jointly by landowner Koperasi Pegawai Kanan Kerajaan Pulau Pinang Bhd and developer Nusmetro Venture (P) Sdn Bhd.