Monday, July 6, 2009

Lim given one-week ultimatum to save village - Malaysiakini

Hindraf leader P Uthayakumar has given the Penang government a week from today to save Kampung Buah Pala and preserve it as an Indian heritage village in Georgetown.

Uthayakumar, who yesterday visited the embattled village which is to be demolished to make way for a luxury condominium project, spelled out three actions that the Pakatan Rakyat government must take.

  • Sign a purchase order to acquire the village land from its current landowner, the Senior Civil Servants Cooperative Society (Koperasi Pegawai-Pegawai Kanan Kerajaan Pulau Pinang).

  • Disclose findings of its ongoing investigation into the alleged land scam involving the village.

  • Reveal the court order on the dissolution of the legally-constituted Brown Housing Trust, which encompasses Kampung Buah Pala.

uthayakumar high chaparral 040709 uthaya speakSpeaking at a gathering in Kampung Buah Pala, the most famous face of Hindraf has given Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng until next Friday to deliver on those demands.

According to Uthayakumar, a government must get a court order to dissolve a housing trust to take over its land.

“If this was done, then all the valid documents should be in the state land office. The chief minister can reveal them to the public,” he told some 200 villagers, Hindraf supporters, social activists as well as PKR and PAS party members.

uthayakumar high chaparral 040709  mujahid rawaPresent were PAS state deputy chief Mujahid Yusof Rawa (right), PKR Balik Pulau MP Yusmadi Yusoff and the villagers' legal representative, Darshan Singh Khaira.

This is the first time Hindraf, PAS and PKR leaders have come together in a show of solidarity with the villagers. However, no top DAP representative could be spotted at the meeting.

Kampung Buah Pala is known among locals as 'Tamil High Chaparral' because of its population of cowherds, cattles, goats and Tamil traditional cultural features.

Gov't took over land 'given' to villagers

According to the village senior citizens, their ancestors were given free ownership of the land by the Brown Estate Housing Trust before the government turned it into a temporary occupation licence (TOL) settlement after Merdeka in 1957.

uthayakumar high chaparral 040709 crowdThey recalled that their parents, mostly illiterate, were hoodwinked into signing documents by government officers on the pretext of providing water and electricity to the village.

According to them, their parents were duped by the government to terminate their land ownership and turn the land into a TOL village.

In 2005, the state land office unilaterally stopped TOL collections from the villagers in a move to alienate the land under state ownership and it was subsequently sold to the senior civil servants cooperative.

penang kampung buah pala condominium project  macc report  090609 05The cooperative has hired Nusmetro Venture (P) Sdn Bhd to build a few blocks condominiums as part of the Oasis project.

Uthayakumar said Lim can invoke Section 76 of the National Land Code and Section 3 of the Land Acquisition Act to acquire the village land for the people.

He said Lim should sign the purchase order before pointing figures at others over the 'High Chaparral' controversy.

“The chief minister should show his commitment to the people by acquiring the land. Then he can fight with Gerakan, Umno or MIC over the issue, and seek federal money to fund the purchase,” he said.

uthayakumar high chaparral 040709 crowdThe Hindraf leader also pointed out that since Lim boasted about his government's accountability and transparency, he should reveal the ongoing probe on the alleged fraud over the sale of the land.

“It should be done before the demolition on Aug 2, not after it,” said the former Internal Security Act detainee, who plans to be at the village with his supporters on the demolition day.

MP to raise issue in Parliament

Meanwhile, Penang PAS deputy commissioner Mujahid said PAS was committed to preserve the country's heritage regardless of ethnic or religious backgrounds.

“Kampung Buah Pala is a national heritage issue. PAS will back the villagers to preserve it,” said the Parit Buntar MP, adding he would ask party leaders to discuss the issue with Lim.

uthayakumar high chaparral 040709 yusmadiPKR state youth leader Yusmadi (right) said he would raise the village issue at the next parliamentary sitting and question the federal government on whether it was prepared to fund the heritage preservation of Kampung Buah Pala.

Uthayakumar has earlier requested both Mujahid and Yusmadi to table an emergency motion to discuss the issue in Dewan Rakyat.

Yusmadi said he would refer Uthayakumar's call to his party leadership.

Reports lodged against Lim, Koh

Meanwhile, seven individuals today lodged police reports against Chief Minister Lim and his predecessor Koh Tsu Koon over the Kampung Buah Pala land deal.

The reports were all lodged at the Dang Wangi district police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

Hindraf coordinator K Selvam told Malaysiakini that the reports urged the police to investigate Lim and Koh to see if there were any wrongdoings in the sale of the village land to the developer.

"These are not police reports lodged by Hindraf. We are merely helping the seven members of public to lodge them," said Selvam.