Sunday, August 2, 2009

Stand-off continues as deadline expires - Malaysiakini

The Penang government was wrong in alienating the Kampung Buah Pala village land and transferring it to a cooperative society without prior written consent from its residents, said a London-based Malaysian lawyer today.

P Apalasamy said given that the village land was under the Brown Housing Trust, the owners must collectively give a written consent, which would constitute a legal document to dissolve the trust.

“Without the legal document, no government can dissolve the trust and alienate its land to another party.

“The current DAP government should produce this legal document publicly to prove that the trust was dissolved in accordance with the law,” said Apalasamy, who has been a lawyer in United Kingdom since moving from Sitiawan, Perak over 20 years ago.

He told this to Malaysiakini during a 40-minute demonstration held by the UK branch of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) in London yesterday in a show of support for the embattled Kampung Buah Pala villagers.

Hindraf leader P Waythamoorthy was also present at the demonstration, which was held outside the Tourism Malaysia Office at Trafalgar Square.

“DAP is duty bound to save and preserve Kampung Buah Pala. There is no two ways about it,” he said.

Time is running out

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

The developer has given the villagers until Aug 3 to move out before their 20-odd houses are demolished to make way for the project.

However, the Penang government has last week revoked the development order and it is unclear whether the developer will proceed to evict the villagers tomorrow.

The state government hopes to buy more time with the move. Nusmetro has earlier agreed to put off their demolishment for a month after winning a court order. But despite the one-month delay, there has not be any resolution to the dispute.

The villagers have been adamant in refusing to yield to the eviction order, and called on the Penang government to acquire the land and preserve the village as a heritage site.

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

The London demonstration yesterday was a timely boost for the Kampung Buah Pala residents.

A small group carried placards depicting slogans such as 'Kg Buah Pala – The Last Remaining Hindu Tamil Heritage Village. Save It', 'Barisan Nasional and DAP are Cheating the People of High Chaparral' and 'DAP ... What Happened to Your Pre-Election Promises.'

Villagers not represented by lawyers

Apalasamy also pointed out that the state government failed to respect the legal rights of the residents if it had indeed not allowed legal representation for the villagers before obtaining their consent.

The 54-year-old further stressed Indian Malaysians in London were dismayed with the new state government for betraying the trust of Indian voters in Malaysia.

“Indian voters backed DAP and its allies in Pakatan Rakyat in the last general election hoping for a change in their political and socio-economic fortunes.”

Meanwhile, Kampung Buah Pala resident K Murugan, who submitted a memorandum to the Unesco's Paris Desk on Wednesday, has received a written assurance from a heritage official that the world body would seriously look into the issue.

Murugan has submitted the memorandum seeking Unesco's help to save his village from demolition.

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

In his appeal, Murugan called on the Unesco heritage centre to include the village as a heritage site.

Buah Pala Cultural & Heritage Festival

Indian Cultural & Heritage Festival' 09

Save The Last Indian Heritage Village in Penang!
Come join us, Save Kg.Buah Pala. On the 3rd,August be there to protect Kg.Buah Pala from been demolished.
Part 1

Part 2

First They Came...The Malaysian Version