Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Indian poor: In limbo on Sime Darby land (Freemalaysiatoday)

In limbo on Sime Darby land 

Dismissed 10 years ago from their estate jobs, 42 people are still waiting for news of better compensation as they worry about sudden eviction.

LABU: Forty-two former workers at Kirby Estate here have been living in suspense for the past 10 years, not knowing when they will be chased out of the houses they have been living in since colonial times.

They were among 180 workers dismissed in May 2001 and told to leave the land within four months. The others obeyed the order, but these 42, disappointed with the compensation offered, ignored the notice.

The offer was RM220 for each year of service. They asked for more, but the estate management never gave its response.

“We couldn’t and we won’t leave,” said P Shanmugam, chairman of a committee representing the 42. “We have nowhere else to go. We have lived here since the time of our great grandfathers.

However, as Shanmugam said, no one likes to live forever in limbo. They constantly worry about being forcibly evicted.

In 2007, the committee wrote to the estate management, asking it to raise the compensation to RM1,000 per year of service or a piece of land on which they could build new homes.

There has been no reply. So the anxiety remains, although the Negri Sembilan government has given its assurance that there are no plans to develop the land.

This is according to Party Socialis Malaysia secretary-general S Arutchelvan, who said he had been following the issue since the beginning.

“But I am not impressed by the assurance,” Arutchelvan added. “The real decision-maker is Sime Darby, which owns the land.”

Negri Sembilan MIC chief T Rajagopalu said he would raise the issue with the Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry as well as MIC president G Palanivel, a deputy minister at the ministry.

“I have discussed this issue before with the state government, but we ended in a deadlock,” he said.
“But this time I’ll make sure it is resolved.”