Thursday, August 12, 2010

“Ethnic cleansing” of Dinding Indian Association land

For 80 years, the Dindings Indian Association in Sitiawan, Perak, has been the steward of a two-hectare plot of land originally purchased with the contributions of rubber tappers.
Last week, the federal government issued notice that it will acquire the land to build a school – the formal hearing of acquisition is to be held on Aug 25 at the Manjung Land Office.
The Perak DAP has now pitched in with an accusation that there is an ulterior motive behind the move.
State deputy chiNONEef M Kulasegaran said the site, located in the heart of town, is worth at least RM20 million now, and that it is the pride of the Indian Malaysian community which makes up 15 percent of the local population.
“Is it true as speculated that part of the prime land will be given to cronies of the people in power for commercial development?” he asked.
He said the plot was bought “with the blood, sweat and tears of the first generation of Indian settlers” who had cleared the jungle for rubber planting.
“Indian rubber-tappers from the 35 estates in Sitiawan had contributed two Straits Settlement dollars each per month for 18 months to purchase this piece of land,” he said.
“The idea of purchasing the land at the time was to build a school for the children of rubber tappers to study English in the afternoon, after attending Tamil school in the morning.”
Part of the site is now occupied the SK Simpang Empat (formerly the Simpang Empat English School), the school field and the VR Menon science laboratory built in 1964.
“There is no logical reason or justification for the government to acquire this piece of land. We are adamant that it should at all times remain in the hands of the Indian community,” Kulasegaran said.
He said that a large number of people will gather at the Manjung Land Office on Aug 25 to object to the proposal.
Questions that arise

Kulasegaran, who is also Ipoh Barat MP, called on the Perak and federal governments to organise a roundtable conference to discuss the proposed acquisition and arrive at a win-win solution.
It is understood that both governments had carried out a feasability study a year ago, in preparation to acquire the site.
KulasS Veerasingamegaran said the Perak government’s Indian Affairs adviser S Veerasingam (left) had reportedly said that “a settlement will be reached” after discussion with Mentri Besar Zamry Abd Kadir, who is currently abroad.
He demanded answers from Veerasingam on these questions:
1. Was he aware of the feasibility study? Was the Perak government consulted before the decision on acquisition was made?
2. Why was there no prior consultation with the local Indian community?
3. Why did he say a settlement would be reached after the notice of acquisition was issued?
4. What are the details of the settlement formula?
Kulasegaran, who was born in Sitiawan, said the Indian community is angered because the move is “most insensitive, unfair and unjustifiable”.
The community also cannot understand the need for this plot when there is vacant land in many other areas where a new school can be built, he added.