Saturday, July 4, 2009

A write up on Kg Buah Pala

By SV Singam

The opinions and conclusions are entirely mine. Feel free to correct me if you think I am in error.

The land now called Kg Buah Pala was occupied by settlers more than 200 years. Some 150 years ago, David Brown, who then owned the coconut plantation there, gave the land to the settlers for them to continue their farming activity. A written document exists to prove this. After Brown returned to Britain, the State Government took over the land and proceeded to collect annual TOL rent from the villagers.

In 1999, the villagers applied for the land to be gazetted as Heritage Land. But the then government dragged its feet over the matter and failed (or refused) to take concrete action.

I have no idea how many people were privy to the fact that a developer called Nusmetro Ventures had a plan to develop condominiums on the land occupied by Kg Buah Pala. I also have no idea when the project was launched. But I do know that, as early as December 2007, even before any land transfer had taken place, prospective buyers were already discussing the launching price and putting down deposits.

In retrospect, it appears that the BN government had no intention of gazetting Kg Buah Pala as Heritage land. Instead, the land was to be sold to a developer to build the condominium project. In the process, BN cronies, including senior state government servants, were to make fat profits.

At the time of campaigning for the 12th General Elections, residents of Kg Buah Pala claim that they highlighted their problem to the PR candidate who promised that, if they won the elections, they would solve the problem. I have not seen any recorded evidence of the PR candidates making that promise. But I find it quite believable simply because, at that time, the DAP did not expect to win outright.

After the PR took over the State Government, the plotters behind the scheme had a problem. People within the government would lose the lucrative profit they were expecting to make. The crony developer would lose a lot of money already spent on launching the project. Buyers of the condo units would only get partial refunds because lawyers fees and so on would not be returned. They would stand to lose lots of money. It was a real mess that the plotters had to clear up, which they did.

3 weeks after the PR took control of Penang, the Kg Buah Pala land was quietly transferred to the Senior Government Servants Cooperative for them to sell to Nusmetro Ventures (and enjoy the promised profit). Right under Lim Guan Eng's nose!

The initial transfer of the land and the subsequent sale of it took place after the PR government had come into power. They could have stopped it if they had wanted to. But had it been stopped, they would have to face the wrath of the buyers of the condos. If the project went through, only the Kg Buah Pala residents would be affected. I suspect this is why the Lim Guan Eng government closed its eyes until it was too late.

Lim Guan Eng is now claiming that the developer had offered a compensation of RM200,000 per residence which the settlers rejected. The truth is, the compensation offered was only RM90,000 and this was accepted by only 6 of the 41 families living there. The others rejected the offer not because the money was not enough but because they only wanted to stay on the land that had been settled on by their ancestors. They needed the land so that they could continue with their livelihood - rearing cows and goats.

The Chief Minister has the power to acquire the land. Of course he has to compensate the buyer. But his claim that he had to pay RM200 per sq ft is ridiculous. The land acquisition was done under suspect circumstances. The buyer only has to be paid a nominal sum above the purchase price. The CM's personal assistant estimated that the compensation may cost up to RM30 million but LGE exaggerated that figure in his press statement. No one really seems to know what the actual payout would amount to.

What I can see is an unwillingness on the part of the Penang State Government to stop the project. I can understand why LGE fears to do that. The buyers of that project together with their relatives and friends would constitute a huge voter block. He cannot afford to antagonise them. He may not be corrupt, but he is a politician. He is in power on the votes of his supporters. He is surely beholden to them.

Everyone is lambasting Hindraf for their confrontational attitude. Well, don't forget that the reasonable negotiating attitude that had been adopted for some 10 years, all the way until that point had resulted in utter failure. If Hindraf had not acted as they did, Kg Buah Pala would be reduced to rubble by now.

Hindraf has won a month of time for all parties to come out with a fair solution. Let us see if the Penang Pakatan Rakyat government led by Lim Guan Eng has what it takes to address this really difficult issue and fix it.

The PR government may not be guilty of any corruption or illegal action. But they are guilty of inaction, which has brought grief to the settlers. It is morally wrong to make it seem like the settlers are greedy and are demanding more compensation. All the settlers are asking for is to be left alone to do what they have been doing for more than 200 years.

The right and proper thing to do is to confiscate all profits made from this nefarious project and use that to compensate the affected parties equitably. If the Penang government is unable to do that for whatever reason, they have to do the next best thing.

Identify a suitable alternative location that is acceptable to the Kg. Buah Pala settlers and help them to rebuild their settlement. The settlers are not asking for fancy urban homes or money. They just want to be able to continue with their lives and livelihood. Is that too much to ask?

What I recommend is not impossible to do. It only requires a willingness on the part of Lim Guan Eng's government to prove that they are truly a People's Government and not merely a Taxpayer's Government.


Earlier this week the Home Minister had issued a statement in Parliament amongst others that I had left the Country on the 28th November 2007 to lobby International support and to make efforts to meet leaders of the LTTE.

The above information has apparently been obtained from intelligence reports.

The baseless and unfounded allegation of Hishamuddin that I had made attempts to make contact with LTTE is absolutely ridiculous. I challenge Hishamuddin to provide the proof to the Malaysian public openly.

If that was the case why did the British government grant me political asylum status under the United Nation 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugee owing to fear of persecution by the Malaysian government for social activities that was carried out by HINDRAF in Malaysia. For the public’s information, LTTE is a proscribed organization both in England and India. In that case even the other Hindraf lawyers who had faced illegal incarceration are equally exonerated from such malicious allegation.

On 5th December 2007 it was the Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail who made this unfounded allegation in an open Court bail application hearing against innocent Hindraf supporters. Thereafter on the 13th December 2007 the Inspector General of Police and the Former Prime Minister made similar unfounded allegations against HINDRAF Lawyers.

When challenged to prove those allegations they went mute and the facts were twisted that the Lawyers had raised religious sentiments when the Lawyers had merely advocated the rights of Freedom of Religion under Article 11 of the Federal Constitution and Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

I have always maintained that I am a Human Rights Advocate and have never deviated in my duty to uphold the Malaysian Federal Constitution and protect the Rule of Law.

I have no fear of the UMNO regime and its prison and have proven myself when I voluntarily denied bail upon arrest on a politically motivated sedition charge on 23rd November 2007.

I now challenge Hishamuddin to do the following:

a) (a) immediately issue a fresh International Passport under my name ( I will not accept the old passport which has been invalidated and

m most likely “marked invalidated” by the British Immigration Office);

b) (b) arrest and charge me in open court for treason upon my return for the alleged “attempt to make contact with LTTE”

The “Criminal” Charge would give me an opportunity to prove that this Government had no evidence whatsoever and the whole works of the system right from the former Prime Minister, Attorney General, Inspector General of Police to the current leaders have lied and misled the Malaysian public and deliberately demonized HINDRAF, my colleagues and me.

If Hishamuddin fails to do the above he should publicly apologize to all Malaysians and Parliamentarians for misleading them.

P.Waytha Moorthy



Uthaya in Buah Pala

We Need Your Support !!!

Our Hindraf Leader
is coming to

Kg Buah Pala, Bukit Gelugor (High Chaparral)

on :
Date : 4th July 2009 (Saturday)
Time : 2.30pm
Location : Kg Buah Pala, Bkt. Gelugor. (High Chaparral)

Please come and support.
Please spread this message to all our friends.

-Buah Pala Residents-

PKR tells CM: Go talk to the villagers - Malaysiakini

A Pakatan Rakyat ally today ticked off Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for attempting to resolve the 'High Chaparral' crisis through media statements, rather than working out a proactive action plan.

PKR state chief Zahrain Hashim wants Lim to go to the ground, get his facts right and find an amicable win-win solution for all to end the Kampung Buah Pala crisis in Bukit Gelugor.

He said he was shocked that Lim had not visited the village until today since becoming chief minister 15 months ago.

lim guan engHe chided Lim for relying for information on the crisis from his deputies, rather than getting it himself.

As a result, he said Lim (right) was being accused of misinforming the public on several contentious issues pertaining to the crisis, such as on the quantum of the compensation offered by the developer.

"Information from third party amounts to hearsay. As chief minister, Lim should get it from the villagers... meet the villagers," Zahrain told Malaysiakini.

Zahrain acknowledged that the situation had reached a boiling point after the lucrative Oasis project developer - Nusmetro Venture (P) Sdn Bhd - issued a court order of writ of possession to the villagers yesterday.

Lodge a report with MACC

He said sentiments were running high now because an Indian traditional village of nearly 200 years was about to be demolished and flattened in a month's time.

"Lim should not look only at the corporate interests and talk about dollar and cents. It's time for him to visit the village and end the villagers' predicament," said Zahrain, the Bayan Baru parliamentarian.

He pointed out that it was the state government's duty not to allow the villagers to be victimised by the system.

He said the state government should not use the court ruling on the village land as a sheild to hide from its public responsibilities.

penang pkr chief zahrain hassimHe urged the state government to release all the findings of the ongoing investigation into the 'High Chaparral' land scam.

He said the state government should not compromise with anyone if the findings showed that the land had been misappropriated by deception.

He urged the state government to report the issue to the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) to nab the culprits.

"The court ruling is another matter altogether," said Zahrain.

"Lim should check on the facts behind the crisis and prevent any victimisation. The people's interests must be protected," he added.

Developer lied to the media

Meanwhile, Kampung Buah Pala Residents Association chairperson M Sugumaran slammed the developer for lying about the facts and figures over the village.

The developer's executive director, Thomas Chan, said that the village only has 21 households, after 10 others moved out after accepting compensation up to RM260,000.

penang kg buah pala 010709 m sugumaranSugumaran (right) pointed out that the court bailiffs posted the writ of possession to 41 households in the village yesterday.

"This itself is prove that the developer had lied to the media," he said, adding that only seven households had move out after accepting compensations.

He stressed that the compensation offered was not more than RM90,000 for each household.

Don't blame MIC

Meanwhile MIC Youth wing advisor S Vell Paari said Penang government leaders, especially its deputy chief minister P Ramasamy, should not continue blaming MIC for the plight of the villagers.

"How can they blame MIC for this? As a state government, it's their duty to solve the problem of the villagers there rather than passing the buck," he said today.

vell paari vellpaariHe also pointed out that while the agreement to develop the land was made by the previous BN government, it was nevertheless incumbent on the present Pakatan government to solve the issue.

"And during the general election, it was them who had said that they will stop the project. They should fulfil that promise now," he said.

Vell Paari, who is in charge of unity committee of MIC, also said that the party's representative in the last BN state government PK Subbaiyah was among the minority voice of exco members to have objected against the sale of the land to the private developer.