Monday, August 10, 2009

'Don't blackmail Kg Buah Pala residents' - Malaysiakini

The Penang government has been accused of blackmailing Kampung Buah Pala residents by issuing a 'take it or leave it' ultimatum over an offer of double-storey houses as compensation for vacating the site of their village.

Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) chairperson P Waythamoorthy said he is appalled with Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for having issued his statement without righting the wrongs of the land transaction that have led to the impasse.“It seems so simple for Lim to give an ultimatum and blackmail the rightful owners of the land. If he is not sanctioning fraud, then he should acquire the land and return it to the villagers (instead of) making a deal to shortchange them,” Waythamoorthy said in a statement.

“It is a shame that the state government has been gloating about the offer which is nothing more than DAP's endorsement of a fraudulent transaction started by Barisan Nasional.”Developer Nusmetro Venture (P) Sdn Bhd withdrew the offer when the noon deadline last Friday expired. The residents rejected the offer because it came with “unacceptable conditions”

However, the state government has struck a deal with the developer not to demolish the village pending the Aug 18 court hearing on an application filed by the residents over the land transaction.Waythamoothy said Lim has not been pro-active in nullifying the “fraudulent transaction”.

“Lim knew about it before the (last general) election but instead of using his power as chief minister ( investigate it), he endorsed the transaction,” he said.“There are many legal avenues available for him to (start investigations). It's just another political game (for him).

The residents seem insignificant to him compared to the capitalist developer.”He pointed out that Section 340(2) of the National Land Code states that the title or interest of any person or body shall not be indefeasible:

in any case of fraud or misrepresentation to which the person or body, or any agent of the person or body, was a party or privy;or where registration was obtained by forgery, or by means of an insufficient or void instrument; or where the title or interest was unlawfully acquired by the person or body in the purported exercise of any power or authority conferred by any written law.

'Reveal efforts'Waythamoorthy challenged Lim to reveal his efforts to nullify the land transfer, rather than claim to be a victim of actions of the previous Gerakan-led state government.“He has demonstrated inaction and inability to initiate action - is this the example Lim wants to set for the people and his government?”Lim has already explained that his government's hands are tied because of a Federal Court ruling that the land belongs to the Penang Government Officers Cooperative Society.

He also said it would be too costly for his government to acquire the land from the cooperative society and the developer.Lim has declassified files relating to the land sale and pointed fingers at the previous state government of robbing "the residents of their land without consulting them"."So far (former CM) Koh Tsu Koon (right) has not explained why he approved this project without consulting the residents or selling it to the cooperative society at such a low price. (So) why is this aggression targeted against the Pakatan government that is trying to help (the residents)?

”Lim claimed that "a group of opportunists" who were not aware of the full picture has worsened the situation.Some 300 Indian Malaysians live in Kampung Buah Pala in Bukit Gelugor, Penang. They have been appealing to the authorities since late June to save their village, the only remaining Tamil traditional village in the state.

Uthaya to Lim Guan Eng - Kampung Buah Pala

Batu Kawan to kick start HRP's Indian agenda - Malaysiakini

Newly formed Human Rights Party (HRP) as set Merdeka eve to launch its nationwide 'Indian Political Empowerment Plan' (IPEP) campaign at a Hindu temple in the DAP-held Batu Kawan parliamentary constituency in Penang.

Its leader P Uthayakumar announced this at a Kampung Buah Pala rally at Bukit Gelugor attended by some 250 people last night.

He explained that the empowerment plan was to transfer marginal Indian voters from various constituencies in the country to certain earmarked constituencies with a sizeable Indian electorate.

He said the move can create at least 15 Indian-majority seats in the country with at least a 60 per cent voter majority in each constituency.

With such a majority, he believes that Indians should be able to dominate and control at least 45 state seats nationwide.

"By having Indian-majority seats, Malaysian Indians can be politically stronger.

Can demand safeguards

"They could demand that both federal and state governments safeguard and enhance their political and socio-economic rights, interests and benefits," he told newsmen later.

He cited political weakness as a major reason for Indians being marginalised, isolated, sidelined and neglected where mainstream development in the country is concerned.

Though Indians formed bulk of decisive votes in an estimated 50 out of the country's 222 parliamentary constituencies, they are not in the majority in any seat.

Batu Kawan has been picked as an ideal constituency given that Indians make up 22.4 per cent of its 47,602 registered voters, according to last year's electoral roll.

The constituency consists of Prai, Bukit Tengah and Bukit Tambun state seats.

Current Batu Kawan Member of Parliamen is Penang Deputy Chief Minister 2 P Ramasamy, who is also Prai assemblyperson.

Nationwide campaign plan

According to the 2008 electoral roll, Indians comprised 35.8 per cent of Prai's 14, 108 voters, 17.5 per cent of Bukit Tengah's 14,790 voters and 16 per cent of Bukit Tambun's 17,704 voters.

PKR's Ong Win Chen is currently Bukit Tengah assemblyperson while state executive councillor Law Choo Kiang represents Bukit Tambun.

Following the Batu Kawan launch, Uthayakumar plans to expand his campaign to other similar constituencies across the country to execute his strategy.

Kedah's Padang Serai, Sungai Siput, Perak's Ipoh Barat, Bagan Datoh in Perak, and Selangor' Kuala Selangor, Hulu Selangor and Klang are among the other federal seats that have been earmarked.

No tears if plan fails

Supporters of HRP and Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) will be mobilised to carry out the nationwide campaign

Through Indian majority seats, Uthayakumar said the community can elect dedicated representatives to fight for their cause and vote them out if they fail.

"Indian majority seats will pose a political threat to the authorities as well," he said.

However, Uthayakumar noted that HRP would need strong Indian public support to succeed in its plan.

He said he will not weep if the Indian community is uninterested in his campaign. "As a community leader, I am offering a plan to empower them.

"But I won't be in despair if they are not keen."I am not a desperate politician," he said.

Nusmetro Proposal Illegal

Kg Buah Pala: That RM3.5 million figure...

By Anil Netto,

The Kg Buah Pala villagers have been portrayed as greedy, demanding, and unreasonable. This is partly due to the mixed signals coming from the committee, the seemingly conflicting statements and misrepresentations of those speaking on their behalf including those with vested interests and even those in the state government.

Guan Eng even claimed – incorrectly as it turned out – the villagers want RM3.5 million bungalows or compensation. Where did he get that from? But the damage is already done as it all over the media.

As a result of such statements in the media by those intent on portraying the villagers as greedy – and the village committee’s own public relations blunders along with outsiders taking advantage – public opinion may have swayed against the villagers.

I have been to the village a few times, and I have never heard of a demand for RM3.5 million bungalows or any similar demand.

I did see the RM3.5 million figure mentioned once, in one of the handouts given. But look at the context: that was when the residents were reacting to accusations that they were greedy. They retorted that the real greedy parties were those who were coveting their respective property lots, some of which they claimed could be worth an average of RM3.5 million. That’s quite different from asking for compensation of RM3.5 million or demanding a RM3.5 million bungalow.

I contacted Sugumaran, the residents’ committee chairperson, for comment and he said the claim that the villagers wanted RM3.5 million bungalows is baseless. “They are just using that figure to turn public opinion against the villagers and to portray the villagers as unreasonable,” he lamented.

Few have actually walked in their shoes and lived in the village to experience what life is like for them. It’s a different life-style closer to nature than what most city folk can understand – and I don’t claim to fully understand it either. Only the villagers know their real situation and what they really need to continue living in dignity, if and when they are wrenched apart not only from their homes but their land, their livelihoods and their community.