One of the last two remaining cowsheds at Kampung Buah Pala was demolished today by developer Nusmetro Venture (P) Sdn Bhd’s demolition squad. The shed was built to house cows and other livestock.
The other cowshed, a few metres away, was spared by the demolition team.
According to the affected cowherd KT Sivananthan, 39, the demolition started at 12.15 pm and his cowshed was completely flattened by 4pm. Around 10 members of the police force were present during the demolition.
Sivananthan claimed that the demolition was illegal because his cowshed was sitting on state land.
He also said he did not receive any notice of eviction from any government authorities, especially the local Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP).
When contacted, the developer’s executive director Thomas Chan claimed that the cattle ranch land belonged to the Kampung Buah Pala landowner - the Penang civil servants’ cooperative society (Koperasi Pegawai Kerajaan Negeri Pulau Pinang Bhd).
“If the villagers have a dispute, they can always refer to the courts,” Chan said over a telephone conversation.
No answers from cooperative
The cooperative society’s chairperson, Abdul Razak Mansor, when contacted told reporters to contact Deputy Chief Minister P Ramasamy for clarification over the land status.
“I don’t know . . . I don’t know. Contact Ramasamy,” he said over the telephone.
He repeated the answer when asked whether he was aware that the developer was demolishing the cowshed allegedly without any authorisation.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng (right) and Ramasamy were both unavailable for comment as they are on an official trip to the Middle East.
Senior executive councillor Chow Kon Yeow, who is in charge of local government affairs, could not be reached for comment. It is learnt that he is at the current parliamentary sitting.
Similarly, Deputy Chief Minister Mansor Othman and MPPP president Tan Cheng Chui did not pick up calls from reporters at the site despite several attempts.
Kampung Buah Pala was once known as ‘Tamil High Chaparral’ due to its population of cowherds, cattle, goats, other livestock, its unique hilly environment and Indian cultural features and festivities.
The 200-year-old Indian traditional village was demolished in September this year to pave way for a lucrative condominium project named ‘The Oasis’, undertaken by the cooperative society and Nusmetro Venture.
Sivananthan said a Nusmetro executive known as Gary Ho had told him last week to dismantle one of the cowsheds because the state authorities had been given permission. Nusmetro Venture is demolishing the shed to make way for an access road for the Oasis project.
He said, however, Ho failed to produce any documents such as a notice of eviction or authorisation letter from any authorities to prove his claim.
Police report lodged
Sivananthan (left) has lodged a police report at 2.40 pm in Jelutong police station over the demolition.
He is now unsure as to where to keep his livestock.
Until the late 1970s, each household in Kampung Buah Pala was rearing livestock on their premises.
However, the number of cowherds dwindled to only four households belonging to the same Muthu Thevar family descendants - 81-year-old Karuppiah Thevar’s sons Murugan, 46, Sivananthan and Kalimuthan, 37, and the late Ramoo Thevar’s son R Supramaniam, 59.
They were collectively rearing about 300 cows on two ranches.
Kampung Buah Pala was once the major supplier of fresh cow’s milk on the island, including the Penang Hospital.
Now the Thevar family’s livestock supplies some 500 litres of fresh cow and goat milk daily across the state.
Karuppiah (right), who was at the site, claimed that at least 15 goats have died since the village demolition due to lack of shelter from sun and rain.
He said that he was saddened by the demolition.
“I never thought our family ranch would one day be gone in this manner,” he told reporters.