Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Reprieve for Kg Buah Pala

1600: The developer, Nusmetro, has held a press conference in George Town. It denies there was any legal agreement to hold back demolition, according to a reporter at the scene. Only a court order can hold it back, argues Thomas Chan of Nusmetro. The developer is giving the residents until Friday to vacate the land.

Tonight, during its meeting with the residents, the state government is expected to present a more detailed compensation proposal to the villagers, which would probably involve getting the villagers to co-exist next to the Oasis project.

This morning, about 150 residents formed a human barricade at the village when they heard that a demolition team was not far away. Eye-witnesses spotted about 30 workers with sledgehammers in the premises of police quarters. All of them wore green T-shirts with the words SRE Ventures Contractor on them; some of them appeared to be foreign workers. But no bulldozers were seen.

About 100 police personnel observed the villagers forming the barricade


Buah Pala: Human shield confronts sledgehammers - Malaysiakini

A human chain stood in the way of about 50 members of a demolition team who were there to tear down Kampung Buah Pala today.

Both sides stood down after the demolition exercise was subsequently called off following discussions between villagers and developer Nusmetro Ventures (P) Sdn Bhd.

At about 11am, the situation became tense after a demolition team arrived, armed with hardhats, iron rods and sledgehammers.

Upon noticing their presence, about 300 male villagers formed the human shield and began chanting slogans.

More than 100 police personnel stood watch. The police later brought representatives from the developers and villagers into a police van for discussions.

After a brief negotiation, the workers left and villagers breathed a sigh a relief.

No demolition until court hearing

The appearance of the workers was despite that Deputy Chief Minister P Ramasamy had earlier this morning visited the village and reassured residents that there would not be any demolition today.

According to agreement, developer Nusmetro would not proceed with the destruction of the 23 houses in the village until after a Federal Court hearing on the status of the land.

The villagers have filed an appeal against the Court of Appeal decision which ruled in favour of the developer.

In the decision, the appellate court overturned an earlier High Court decision, which favoured the villagers, and issued an eviction order effective June 11.

But the state government has since negotiated with the developer to hold off the demolition.

The Federal Court will hear the appeal on Aug 18.

Miraculous reprieve for Kg Buah Pala! (updates)

1205: A clarification/correction from Himanshu: It was a legal agreement in the presence of the CPO, the court bailiff or registrar, a developer’s rep and a residents association rep not to engage in vacant posssession or demolition until the application to the Federal Court for a revision of its earlier decision has been disposed of. The letter from the Federal Court agrees to the application and has fixed 18 August for preliminary mention.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister will be holding a meeting with the villagers at 7.30pm (and not 10.30 as mentioned earlier).

1145: A miraculous turn of events: a document has been delivered to the villagers from the Federal Court that effectively holds back vacant possession of the land and demolition of the homes, pending a revision of the last Federal Court decision, which denied the land to the villagers. The application for revision, filed by lawyer Darshan Singh, will be heard on 18 August. So there will be no demolition until that legal avenue has been exhausted, it would appear.

Balik Pulau MP Yusmadi announced this startling news after meeting the CPO, a developer’s representative, and the secretary of the village committee, according to Himanshu Bhatt, northern region editor of theSun, who is at the scene.

1035: Apparently, there is not going to be any demolition – at least for today, according to another source. From what I hear, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng will be holding a meeting with the residents at 10.30pm.

Meanwhile, half a dozen FRU trucks, presumably on standby, were spotted along a side road, off the coastal highway.

0951: Emotions are running high in Kg Buah Pala. Villagers have put up human barricades, according to an eye-witness there.

Earlier, villagers confronted a TNB staff and asked him what he was trying to do there. He said he was just there on standby.

Deputy CM Ramasamy is at the scene trying to calm the villagers. About 40 police personnel are also present.

The villagers want answers: what happened to the probe on alleged fraud? why can’t Section 116 be used…?

Ramasamy has told the villagers there would be a meeting with the residents this evening.

0910: Deputy Chief Minister Ramasamy arrives, quells tense atmosphere, saying the developer has agreed to hold back demolition for now, according to an eye-witness.

The other side of Kg Buah Pala - Anil Netto

When most outsiders hear of Kampung Buah Pala, they tend to think of it as just another crammed “squatter” settlement, with ramshackle houses, surrounded by rubbish and stray animals.

Let me show you the other side of Kg Buah Pala – a side not often seen by outsiders. The village is actually quite scenic, the houses nestled amidst natural greenery. The wooden houses blend in with nature, standing next to rambutan, neem and coconut trees. It is easy to see why the Koperasi and Nusmetro covet this land. But they will only flatten it with orange soil for their construction work.

“People tend to look down on wooden houses,” said one of the villagers, showing me around. “They think that brick and concrete houses are superior, but then they find it so hot inside such houses and apartments even with fans and air-cons. Do you know, when I was growing up here in the village, we had to sleep under double blankets. It was that cool.”

He told me that his father moved in here in the 1950s and bought the family home for $3,000 back then. “That was a lot of money back then.”

Talking to the villagers, I could sense their pride in the village, their passion and nostalgia obvious.

Another villager told me he was seriously thinking of leaving the corporate world and coming back to nature to rear cows and goats. “I am tired of all the unethical practices I see in the corporate world, having to market products and persuade people to buy what they don’t really need and then having to chase for collection. I would rather sell something (like milk and dairy products) that people actually need and they will then come to me for it.”

When asked if that meant he was thinking of going into hightech, large-scale cattle rearing with modern equipment, he repled, “No, I would rather do it the natural (organic) way.”

I thought I would take photos of all the houses yesterday before the demolition team can bulldoze its way in and swing their wrecker’s ball to flatten the village forever.

But they will have to contend with the villagers’ pride in their heritage and homeland.

Kampung Buah Pala demolition put off another day

GEORGE TOWN, Aug 4 — The expected trouble in Kampung Buah Pala today did not materialise as the developer accepted an invitation to have a dialogue with the villagers and state government.

In the morning, residents formed a human shield to prevent the planned demolition of the old settlement.

Police were present, as were representatives from NGOs and political parties.

Penang Deputy Chief minister II P. Ramasamy however gave villagers an assurance that no demolition would happen today. He explained that the developer Nusmetro Ventures (P) had agreed to a meeting tonight.

Just before 11am, a group of contractors arrived. They were joined by a court bailiff a little later.

After discussions with the police chief, the contractors decided not to carry out the demolition.

The issue of the scheduled demolition of Kampung Buah Pala — known popularly as “High Chapparal” — has been a major headache for the Pakatan Rakyat government of Penang, as the transfer of the settlement land rights to the Penang Government Officers Cooperative occurred during the Barisan Nasional’s administration.

Kugan’s mum loses bid to get items back from cops

(The Star) - The High Court here has rejected a bid from N. Indra, the mother of suspected car thief A. Kugan, to compel the police to return all items and samples they had seized from a forensic pathologist.

Indra, 41, had appointed the pathologist to conduct a second post-mortem after her 22-year-old son had died in police custody on Jan 20, five days after being detained.

After police seized documents, tissue samples and bodily fluids on April 6, Indra filed an application on May 28 to compel the police to return all the items.

She had Indra had named senior investigating officer-cum-lead raiding officer ASP Mohd Marzukhi Mohd Mokhtar, Petaling Jaya district police chief ACP Arjunaidi Mohamed, Bukit Aman Criminal Investigations Department director Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Mohd Zinin and the Inspector-General of Police as respondents.

On Tuesday, High Court judge Justice Ghazali Cha ruled against her.

Kg.Buah Pala and the rescuers from Pakatan Rakyat!

In the Issue of Kg.Buah Pala, we feel so cheated and lost trust in all the people, group, organisation and political parties. The Reason that the government was shaken in the 2008 general election was the Hindraf Rally in Kuala Lumpur city center, this a reason that cant be denied, although some has forgotten about it.

Penang was under the Barisan Nasional government and Hindraf Rally was a tremendous opportunity for the DAP Cum Pakatan Rakyat government to take over, Lim Kit Siang, Lim Guan Eng and Karpal Singh knew this fact for sure.

The Pakatan Rakyat led government has dissapointed us by making the Indians in Kg.Buah Pala cry and living in fear of becoming homeless and squatters! Are they Squatters? Are they living in Tanah Haram? No they are living in a village that has great Historical Value and has been staying there for more than 150 years. We are not asking Lim Guan Eng to give the whole of Penang to the residents of Kg.Buah Pala, we are not asking for Komtar as an alternative, we are just asking, pleading and begging to him on not to destroy their homes, and the place their Grandparents and parents lived and passed the harmony and peace to the 3rd generation now.
Compare to Sg.Buloh,Lembah Pantai and many other settlements in Kuala Lumpur which is right in the middle of City Development plans are not touched and given a status of Residency, and these places are not even Historical valued places. Why No one is defending Kg.Buah Pala and its residents? Is that because they are all Indians? Pakatan Rakyat trying to prove that the Indians in this country are the third class citizens? Supported by how we were treated for the past 50years by Barisan Government? Then why do we put so much of efforts, struggles to make you sit in the state house and run the government?

I don’t understand about a simple reason here; will the developer and the State Assembly members die if they don’t build a luxury condominium in Kg.Buah Pala? Don’t you have any other land and alternatives to be given to the Developer; can't the Penang government pay for the compensation and restructure the plans of development of Penang for the happiness and peacefulness of the residents there? They are the one who ran up and down without bothering about rain or shine to work for you during last General Election!! Now when you are seated in the Government Air-conditioned car with a driver and a bodyguard, have u forgotten the past struggles and conditions you were in? Been called Traitors! Never have the chance to enter parliament and even if you enter it, you have no say there, before you can open your mouth, you will be asked to seat and teased and treated worse than a rapist!

I am very dissapointed with all of the people in the administration of the Penang State!! You are in no difference from the Barisan Nasional government who demolished the temples in Malaysia for so long, at that time the Pakatan Government came to us and stand in the Rain and hot sun, pretending to defend the rights of the people.

Now, we understand that all that are dramas and it’s just a tactic to fish for vote during election! Lim Guan Eng is comparable to Khir Toyo who has been in responsible on demolishing many temples! Prof Ramasamy is comparable to Samy Vellu who failed to look into our status and rights in this country! Prof Ramasamy had once said that he will defend all the people especially Indians from people like Samy Vellu and will do anything to protect the rights of Indians, now you cant even protect the people who voted for you from just a developer who is hungry for luxury and fame with the money earned from the crying hearts in Kg.Buah Pala. The Crying Voices Of the people will be heard for generations and will poke your heart every day throughout your life! The same with Karpal Singh! Where is your command of Makkal Sakthi? Gobind, where you went missing? Anwar? tunggu apa lagi? mana Makkal Sakthi? Mana laungan yang membuatkan kerajaan Barisan Nasional goyang di Penang, Perak dan Kedah itu?

I don’t know that money is more important than the Human Values and hearts, can you hear them crying???? Are they asking for your house and money?? Are they criminals? are they terrorists? When the Illegal Indonesian Immigrants can roam and build houses freely in Kg.Paya Jaras why cant our Own citizens should be chased out of their land? it is not even the land of the government, after all the manipulations, it has been stolen from the Brown Housing Foundation is I am not mistaken, Don’t be a robber, Hear their plights! They are your voters, your people and your state children’s! Don’t invite curse directly to you, this will be the curse of Innocent people! it is so powerful to make the Government to pack the office in Komtar to Give away to Koh Tsu Koon!..

Please, this is not a warning, this is a COMMAND!!! Think before you loose everything in the next General Election and plead for votes again! Condo can be built anywhere, even in the re-claimed area, but not the trust, you can’t build the trust in the next 3 years…
Conscious and Unconscious,

Kg Buah Pala...pawn in a political game

Kg Buah Pala demolition pushed to tomorrow - Malaysiakini

The two major protaganists in the Kampung Buah Pala issue adopted contradictory stands today with the developer saying it was in no rush to destroy the houses there while the landowner declaring it would be done tomorrow.

According to the Chinese language daily Guangming the developer, Nusmetro Ventures said that it could wait before destroying the 23 houses in the village.

But Bernama reported that the landowner, the Penang Government Officers Cooperative, had decided to postpone the plan to tomorrow to give the villagers more time to evacuate.

Cooperative chairperson Abdul Razak Mansor added that the decision was taken on compassionate grounds, to allow the residents some time to move out and transfer their belongings.

Moreover, he reiterated that the cooperative which met yesterday, will not share the 2.6ha plot with the villagers, as suggested by Chief Minster Lim Guan Eng.

"Why must we share the land with the villagers when the land is ours and the court has also ruled in our favour," he asked.

"The state has never discussed this issue with us before, and now all of sudden Lim suggested that we share the plot.

"They are merely their political promises, so why should the cooperative abide by them?" asked Abdul Razak.

Luxury condominium project

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

Nusmetro had earlier agreed to put off the demolition for a month after winning a court order, although the delay has now lapsed, there is appears to be no resolution in sight to the dispute.

Yesterday, the cooperative had remained adamant that the houses would be demolished today.

Abdul Razak said Nusmetro had been instructed to obey the Federal Court decision, which has granted ownership of the land.

"We are not cruel, but our decision to demolish the village still stands because the court has decided the land is ours," he had said.

Meanwhile, Lim warned the cooperative to not jump the gun by demolishing the houses until a amicable solution is reached by both parties.

"If the cooperative is adamant on tearing down the houses, the state government has no choice but revoke the development order," Lim told reporters this morning.

300 gather to protest against demolition
Meanwhile with the deadline to vacate the land expiring yesterday around 300 people gathered at the village at around 10am today to protest the move .

Among them were members of the banned-Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), MIC, Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) and non-governmental organisation Jerit.

However, despite waiting for almost two hours, there was no sign of the developers but there is no guarantee that the demolition will not take place although the Penang government had held back the revocation of development order last week.

According to journalists on the ground at that time there were no bulldozers, police or local council officers at the site.

The protesters left the village at 11.45am and proceeded to Komtar to submit a memorandum to Lim.

The residents accompanied by the NGOs and political groups then proceeded to Komtar to meet with Lim to submit another memorandum pleading the state government acquire the land.

The document was handed to Lim's political secretary Ng Wei Aik, as the former was not present.

Villagers want gov't to buy back land

In the memorandum signed by the villagers, they had stated that the Penang Government Officers Cooperative, the sole owner of the Kampung Buah Pala land, cannot transfer the land for development purposes.

It further stated that the DAP state government can buy back the land by paying the premium of RM3.2 million.

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

The villagers had appealed to the Unesco's Paris Desk to recognise the village as a heritage site.

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

Uncertainty grips Kg Buah Pala (updates) - Anil Netto

High Chaparral 019

Tears well up in the eyes of Sugumaran, the residents committee chairperson – Photo by Anil

2118: “I can really see sincere tears rolling down the faces of some of the villagers,” says a Penangite. “The fear of losing their shelter; kids can’t prepare for exams. This is life. Imagine if we are in their shoes.”

2053: Talks are still ongoing between the Penang state government and the developer. The state government finds itself in an unenviable position, hemmed in by residents’ demos, the developer apparently willing to negotiate but the Cooperative playing hardball, Umno(?), and what it believes to be political opportunists making use of the villagers. Much is at stake, for all sides.

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

What will happen to Kampung Buah Pala?

By Lilian Chan

A lot of questions were being asked and many are still asking the same questions until today. So, I take the liberty of downloading the exclusive interview Maran Perianen of Malaysiakini had with Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng on July 15, 2009 and uploaded it to my Facebook.

(if the video doesn’t show up, it means Facebook site is down)

Tomorrow (Monday) will be the D-day. Will the landowner Koperasi and the developer Nusmetro send bulldozers to demolish the houses there? Will the supporters of Kampung Buah Pala lie in the path of the bulldozers? Will there be tear gas and water canon courtesy of FRU? Will Special Branch nabbed all those who made mischief?

My fellow citizen journalist from Ipoh who is a Hindraf supporter talked to me over the phone just now. He joked with me to make sure I video him if he has to sleep on the road to prevent the demolition. We are going to be there. I will be there because I don’t want anything bad to happen to those adorable Indian old ladies who were so sweet to me. To me, SOME of the people living there deserves our moral support. Like Uncle I-Pasu (not sure if that’s how his name is spelt) who walked with a limp. He is a newspaper delivery man. He said, “Saya sudah tua, kalau kasi saya satu rumah, pun cukup lah….” Now, the Penang State Government has tried to negotiate for a house, a corner of the land and a community hall for the villagers. Will they get that? Will they have time to move their things and stay elsewhere when demolition begins at a time when things are less chaotic?

I have attended many press conferences by CM Lim and Prof. Ramasamy. I have faith that they are nice people and will not allow any harm to come to the villagers there.

I don’t know. But I have prayed hard for a happy ending. I pray for the CM and his Excos/ADuns to have wisdom to solve this sticky situation. And this morning, during Sunday mass, our priest Father Fabian also prayed with all of us that the issue in Kampung Buah Pala will be settled.

(P/S : There is a lot of static sound in the video because of the external mike used for the CM. Nothing can be done, sorry.)

CJ Chan Lilian packing her gears :
Salt – check
Wet towel – check
Running shoes – check
Camera + memory card + battery + charger – check
Gas mask

Citizen Journalist gear

Muahahahar…you think I play play wan meh? I really got industrial gas mask one….And salt in tiny sachets, ‘borrowed’ from McD. I’m lovin’ it!

Villagers set aside troubles for a day of fun

GEORGE TOWN: Anyone who was at Kampung Lorong Buah Pala yesterday would not have guessed that the villagers were facing an eviction order today, if he or she had not been following news.

A competitor trying to grab the bull by its horns during the Indian cultural and heritage festival at Kampung Lorong Buah Pala yesterday. — NST picture by GS Narinder Singh
A competitor trying to grab the bull by its horns during the Indian cultural and heritage festival at Kampung Lorong Buah Pala yesterday. — NST picture by GS Narinder Singh

The villagers were in a festive mood and welcomed about 500 supporters and visitors to the village in Bukit Gelugor for what may be their final cultural event there.

Even the weather was kind -- sunny all day. The events started about 11.30am with a Hindu priest blessing the various venues for the day's activities, which included bullfighting, pole-climbing and a pot-breaking challenge .

The village was full of cheer and laughter as blindfolded women tried to break clay pots filled with water.

The bullfight was a crowd-pleaser as the men tried to grab a large bull by its horns to remove a cloth containing RM100 tied around it.

When the irritated bull proved too much, a smaller one was brought out.

But it, too, refused to play along, escaping from the pen and returning to its shed, much to the amusement of the crowd.

Another highlight was the pole-climbing competition that offered a RM1,000 prize, sealed in an envelope taped to the top of a grease-covered 10m-high pole.

There was also a display of Indian folk dance.

The village's residents' association chairman M. Sugumaran said the carnival was organised to coincide with the start of a religious month for Hindus.

"This is a chance to highlight various Indian traditions and culture."

The association also took the opportunity to inform the public about the negotiations between the state government and developer Nusmetro Ventures (P) Sdn Bhd.

"We do not know the deadline. We can only leave it to the state and the developer now," he said.

At a meeting with Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng on Saturday, the residents had agreed, in principle, to relocate to an allocated area on the land pending details from the developer.

Sugumaran added Lim had promised them that they could live in the village although details remained sketchy.

Thousands of Kampung Lorong Buah Pala supporters also plan to turn up at the village today to safeguard the residents' homes.

The association's assistant secretary C. Tharmaraj said the residents were ready to be evicted but believed something positive would happen.

"I believe the developer will come any time now.

"But if the chief minister saves and preserves this village, like we are begging him to, he is the hero."

Tharmaraj disclosed that the cultural festival cost the residents RM10,000, which was raised through donations.

Kg Buah Pala demolition postponed to tomorrow

PENANG, 3 Aug 2009: Demolition of houses in Kampung Buah Pala, Bukit Gelugor, which was supposed to take place today, has been postponed to tomorrow.

Landowner Koperasi Pegawai Kerajaan Negeri Pulau Pinang (KPKPP) has given residents a one-day reprieve to allow them to remove their belongings.

However, Kampung Buah Pala residents association assistant secretary CTharmaraj said the residents would not budge from the village.

"We will continue to be here. We want Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to use his executive power to reclaim the land," he told reporters after handing a memorandum to Lim at Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak (Komtar) here today.

The memorandum asking that the land be returned to kampung residents was handed to Lim's political secretary, Ng Wei Aik.

About 200 people including village residents had earlier gathered peacefully in the Komtar grounds.

Tharmaraj said Kampung Buah Pala residents wanted Lim to honour his promises that the land would be returned to them. "We don't want to lose the land which has been occupied for 200 years," he said.

Meanwhile, KPKPP was adamant and refused to share land ownership with the residents. Chairperson Abdul Razak Mansor said its members who met yesterday agreed not to share the land as proposed by Lim.

"Why must we share with village residents when the land is ours? The court has decided that the land is legally owned by KPKPP," he told reporters here today.

Abdul Razak said Lim's proposal that KPKPP share the land with Kampung Buah Pala residents was made without discussing it with them.

"Lim suddenly proposed that we share the land with kampung residents. It is just a political promise. Why must KPKPP agree to the proposal?"

He hoped that Kampung Buah Pala residents would cooperate by vacating the land without causing any trouble.

Meanwhile, Lim has warned KPKPP not to proceed with the decision to demolish the houses in Kampung Buah Pala, saying all parties involved should find a win-win solution without hurting anyone.

"We want to look for a solution to help the residents, and at the same time benefit KPKPP and the developer," he told reporters here today.

He said if KPKPP insisted on demolishing the kampung, the state government would have no choice but to stop the development order.

"We are playing matchmaker in this matter as we are not involved in any action to demolish the kampung. We had not issued any letter which allowed the houses to be demolished," he said.

The Kampung Buah Pala land became an issue after the Federal Court issued an order for the 23 families living on the 2.6ha land, dubbed High Chapparal, to vacate it by 2 Aug. — Bernama