Sunday 28 June 2009

Resign Now Rayer!

Residents of Penang's High Chapparal, or Kampung Buah Pala, have demanded the resignation of their state representative, RSN Rayer, for his inability to save their village, after promising to do so during the general elections.

It appears Hindraf has finally ended its silence on the matter, with Waythamoorthy issuing a stern statement warning the Penang governent and Pakatan Rakyat as a whole, that it will withdraw its support for them if the village is demolished.

Pakatan Rakyat rose to power with a so-called promise to bring 'justice' to the people. They championed the issues of the day, promising the moon and the sky. Now, when they ARE in power, they are struggling to deliver. I hope they now know that it is always easy to stand and shout. It is actions that count.

I attach below two articles from Malaysiakini on the matter.

Hindraf warns Penang gov't over 'High Chaparral'
Athi Veeranggan | Jun 28, 09 3:26pm
The Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) today called on the Penang Pakatan Rakyat government to end the predicament of some 300 ‘Tamil High Chaparral’ Kampung Buah Pala residents.

Or else the influential movement would withdraw support for the coalition in future electoral battles, warned its London-based leader, P Waythamoorthy.

He urged Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to heed to the call made by villagers and civil societies to gazette the ‘Tamil High Chaparral’ as a living cultural heritage urban village.

p waythamoorthyAccording to Waythamoorthy, the DAP-led state government should not push Indian Malaysians to a corner, like what Barisan Nasional had done all these years.

“Otherwise, Pakatan Rakyat and Penang government would face Hindraf’s wrath in the next election,” he told Malaysiakini today.

Waythamoorthy slammed Lim’s administration of not fulfilling its responsibilities to end the impasse and for its unwillingness to resolve the villagers’ quandary.

He chided the state government for not showing any interest to preserve the last remaining Indian traditional village in Penang.

“It’s a clear attitude of arrogance ... forgetting the plight of the poor and defenceless after winning the general election.

“The DAP-dominated state government has betrayed the people’s trust. It has failed to protect the weak and the marginalised,” said Waythamoorthy.

penang kampung buah pala 110609 04He said Hindraf could not comprehend the state government’s nonchalant attitude on the issue, especially when the state government had acknowledged existence of possible wrongdoing in the village land deals.

The Penang government has set up an investigating team headed by Deputy Chief Minister 1 Mansor Othman to probe into the land deals.

Waythamoorthy smacked the Pakatan coalition of falsely portraying itself as champions of justice, fairness and equality when the villagers’ unresolved dilemma proved that the Penang government had failed to “walk its talk.”

“What’s happening in Penang is pathetic. The state government has deliberately refused to exercise its executive powers to protect the village as a heritage,” said the self-exiled human rights leader, who plans to return Malaysia by next month.

Land taken over by BN state gov’t

The current residents and their ancestors have lived in Kampung Buah Pala in Bukit Gelugor, for nearly 200 years, which originally was a housing trust under the Housing Trust Act of 1950.

The original owner of the once coconut plantation area, David Brown, had gifted the land to the current villagers' forefathers.

However, after independence, the Barisan Nasional state government took over the village as the land trustee and collected temporary occupational licence (TOL) rents until 2005.

In that year, the land office alienated the land to the state government before it was subsequently sold for some RM3.21 million to a civil servants cooperative society, the Koperasi Pegawai Kanan Kerajaan Pulau Pinang.

penang kampung buah pala condominium project  macc report  090609 05The cooperative has subsequently engaged Nusmetro Venture (P) Sdn Bhd to develop a lucrative housing project, the Oasis.

Early this month, the village residents' association lodged a report to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission alleging fraud in the land alienation and transfer carried out by the northeast district land office.

The villagers now face eviction on July 2 after their appeal to annul the land deals and stop the Oasis project was dismissed by the Federal Court.

Waythamoorthy said Hindraf would hold DAP and its allies accountable for their inaction.

He said Hindraf faced difficulties in explaining to the Indian masses on the deliberate inaction of the state government to exercise the powers conferred upon it by National Land Code and Land Acquisition Act.

The Hindraf chief rebuked claims that the Kampung Buah Pala residents were arrogant for not accepting the compensation initially proposed by the developer.

uthayakumar in kampung buah pala penang 150609 01He said the villagers have only asked for the authorities to protect their constitutional rights to live in their ancestral village.

“Is this too much to ask from a state government which portrays itself as a people’s government?” asked Waythamoorthy.

Waythamoorthy’s elder brother, P Uthayakumar, who is legal advisor to Hindraf, paid a visit to the embattled village early this month. (photo)

Villagers vent their anger against DAP rep
Athi Veeranggan | Jun 28, 09 2:50pm
Facing a forced eviction in five days, despaired ‘Tamil High Chaparral’ Kampung Buah Pala residents demanded their elected representative, RSN Rayer, to quit his Seri Delima seat in Penang.

kampung buah pala penang demo protest adun delima house 270609 03The residents are angry that Rayer had failed to keep his electoral pledge to protect their interests and stop a controversial but lucrative condominium project in Kampung Buah Pala.

“At last year’s general election campaign, Rayer vowed to save our village. Now he is hiding from us ... scared to face us because he had betrayed us,” said the villagers during a protest in front of Rayer’s home in Island Park, Georgetown, last night.

kampung buah pala penang demo protest adun delima house 270609 04Some 100 villagers, led by Kampung Buah Pala Residents Association chairperson M Sugumaran, expressed their dissatisfaction over Rayer’s lukewarm attitude in the matter.

They also want Rayer to explain on why he failed to inform them about the July 2 writ of possession obtained by the developer.

Indeed, it was Georgetown city OCPD Assistant Commissioner Azam Abdul Hamid who informed the villagers about the writ at a meeting yesterday, which was also attended by the developer’s representatives.

kampung buah pala 110609The police chief has warned the villagers not to cause trouble when the developer’s demolition team arrives to flatten the village on Thursday.

“The authorities want us to just sit and watch our homes being destroyed,” lamented Sugumaran.

The villagers claim that Rayer was “hiding” inside his house instead of coming out to face them during their protest which kicked off at about 9pm.

“If this is the attitude of our elected representative, then he should resign and pave way for a by-election. We can elect a better leader,” said the association secretary J Steven.

Villagers lost final court battle

Last Thursday, the villagers lost their final appeal at the Federal Court to overturn last month’s Court of Appeal decision favouring the developer Nusmetro Venture (P) Sdn Bhd and its cooperative landowner, Koperasi Pegawai Kanan Kerajaan Pulau Pinang.

kampung buah pala penang 250609 03The villagers and their legal team have argued that the land alienation and the subsequent sale to the cooperative by the previous state administration were tainted by fraud.

The three-member Federal Court bench however, dismissed their appeal and ruled that the villagers have no locus standi over the village land - part of a housing trust in which the current residents and their ancestors have occupied for nearly 200 years.

The villagers slammed the judgment as being against natural and social justice.

“If our nation’s judges were to be Brazilian judiciary, the whole Amazon tropical forest would be turned into a concrete jungle within a decade,” said the association assistant secretary C Tharmaraj.

Expect stiff resistance on demolition day

The villagers also criticised the DAP-led Pakatan Rakyat government, a self-proclaimed people's government, of betraying them by washing its hand over the controversial issue.

kampung buah pala penang 250609 01“We voted for a change in the last polls because we wanted to rectify the wrongdoings done by the previous Barisan Nasional government. But the DAP government has not shown any difference,” said Sugumaran.

“It seems more interested with dollar and cents than the plight of working class like us.”

The villagers lamented that except for the two deputy chief ministers - Mansor Othman and Dr P Ramasamy - the other state executive councillors in the 11-member state cabinet are not interested in helping them.

The villagers want the state government to preserve their village as a human cultural heritage, echoing a call made by two Unesco officials to Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s administration early this year.

penang kampung buah pala condominium project  macc report  090609 05In the next four days, the villagers consisting of some 65 families from 24 homes will have to evacuate the village - the last remaining Indian traditional urban village in the state - to pave way for the Oasis development project.

Kampung Buah Pala is known among locals as ‘Tamil High Chaparral’ because of its population of cowherds, cattles, goats and Tamil traditional cultural features.

Judging by their mood, it is clear that the villagers would not surrender their homes without a stiff resistance come Thursday.

Saturday 27 June 2009

Penang Indians have been betrayed!

The Penang High Chapparal, otherwise known as Kampung Buah Pala, the last Indian cultural village in the island of Penang, is set to be demolished. The power to rescue this village from demilition rests with one man. The Chief Minister of Penang. Sadly, it appears he has forsaken the Indians who voted for him almost en bloc.

It must be noted, that while the option to save this village may be at the behest of the Pakatan Government, the problem was created by the former BN government led by Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon. Let's call a spade a spade. It was the BN government that sold the land at half the price, adding insult to injury, to an UMNO backed consortium. Yes, I dare say they had complete disregard for the Indians living there. But, they have paid for it. They have lost the elections.

What about YB Lim Guan Eng? Didn't you, and your entire Pakatan government, rise to power promising the Indians the sky? Now the Indians don't mean anything to you? It was arrogance that shook the pillars of BN last March, and it is this arrogance that will shake the Indian support for you too, sir.

Deputy Chief Minister II Ramasamy seems completely powerless to solve the matter. So much so, the residents are more interested in asking the newly appointed DCM I to help them. But both DCMs seem to have little say in the DAP dominated State Exco.

How is it that the CM who famously declared that 'his doors are always open' is too busy to even meet the residents?

I'm sure LGE will be more than eager to point out that it was BN's doing to begin with. I accept that. It was. But instead of correcting that mistake, in the interest of the people, the state government ha the cheek to try and make more money out of the Indian resident's misery by simply asking for more money from the developer!

Why the complete silence from Hindraf et al? Did you not rally hard, asking for the Indians to vote Lim Guan Eng and Anwar and DAP and PKR and PAS? Isn't your silence now a betrayal to the Indians in Penang?

Attached below is an article from Malaysiakini, regarding the above.

Villagers pin last hopes on state gov't
Athi Veeranggan | Jun 27, 09 12:17pm
The Penang government seems unwilling to end the predicament of the 'Tamil High Chaparral' Kampung Buah Pala residents in Bukit Gelugor.

If proceedings in yesterday's executive council meeting were anything to go by, the state government is not keen to deliberate on the pressing issue, let alone safeguard and preserve the urban village as an Indian living cultural heritage.

kampung buah pala penang 250609 04The state executive councillors, except for the two deputy chief ministers, are said to be happy to leave the fate of the villagers in the hands of the demolition team to be hired by the developer.

Only DCM 1 Mansor Othman and DCM 2 Dr P Ramasamy seem interested to help the villagers and save the village from the imminent rampaging demolition team.

Other state executive councillors are learnt to have hardly talked about it.

Indeed, one executive councillor has even chided the villagers as “big heads” for not agreeing to receive a handsome compensation in the first place and vacate their village for good.

On Thursday, the villagers lost their appeal to the Federal Court to overturn last month’s Court of Appeal decision favouring the developer and its cooperative landowner, Koperasi Pegawai Kanan Kerajaan Pulau Pinang.

Round-the-clock high alert

Some 300 Indian Malaysians living in the urban village have pinned their hopes on Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to save their village from being bulldozed and flattened by the developer – Nusmetro Venture (P) Sdn Bhd.

kampung buah pala penang 250609 07The villagers are already on a round-the-clock high alert to stop any demolition work and forced eviction.

During the exco meeting, it is learnt that the state government was keen to act on the technical advice from its legal adviser about its constraints, rather than exercising its executive powers to end the impasse.

The villagers are urging Lim to use his executive powers. Legally, the villagers position now is at its best doomed.

kampung buah pala 110609The villagers consisting of some 65 families living in 24 houses will have to evacuate the village that they and their ancestors have resided for nearly 200 years.

Kampung Buah Pala is known among locals as 'Tamil High Chaparral' because of its population of cowherds, cattles, goats and Tamil traditional cultural features.

It is the last remaining Indian traditional urban village in the state.

The villagers wanted Lim to exercise his chief ministerial power under Section 76 of the National Land Code to save their village from the developers.

They have also wanted Lim to caveat the land pending a state investigation, headed by Mansor, on the land deals carried out by the previous Barisan Nasional state government.

Villagers asked to explore other means

The villagers, their legal team and civil societies have all along argued that the land alienation and subsequent sales to the cooperative by the previous state administration were botched deals tainted by fraud.

kampung buah pala penang 250609 03Yesterday evening the area’s elected representative, R Sanisvara Nethaji Rayer, has indicated to the villagers that the state government may have “washed its hands” over the issue.

Rayer’s phone conversations with village residents’ association chairperson M Sugumaran and secretary J Steven were heard by some 20 residents through the mobile loudspeaker.

Steven claimed that according to Rayer, the state government may not want to preserve the village as a heritage.

He said Rayer also wanted the villagers to explore other means, notably a reasonable compensation, to resolve the controversy amicably.

Steven said Rayer had turned down his suggestion to arrange a meeting with Lim.

The Seri Delima assemblyperson has apparently told him that the chief minister may not have the time to meet the villagers.

However, if the villagers were to succeed to arrange an appointment to meet Lim, Rayer informed Steven that he would be willing to attend the meeting.

Acquire land for us, say villagers

Sugumaran said the villagers wanted the state government to use Section 116 of the National Land Code to stop the developer from entering the village to demolish their homes.

buah pala high chaparral vigil 200609 03The section states that the developer needed a permit from the state authorities to demolish the village.

Secondly, he said the villagers wanted the state government to acquire the land for them.

The land was sold by the BN government to the cooperative for a mere RM3.21 million, a 50 percent discount from its original price of RM6.42 million.

According to Sugumaran, the discounted sale price - estimated at RM11.33 per sq ft - was far below market value.

penang kampung buah pala condominium project  macc report  090609 05Umno-linked developer Nusmetro Venture is set to develop the area dubbed the Oasis, consisting four blocks of medium and medium low-cost apartments.

It is learnt that the current state government planned to nullify the price cut and reclaim the discounted sum from the developer.

The villagers argue that if the state government can nullify the cut-rate deal and ask for a refund, why can’t Lim’s administration annul the whole land deal?

“If there is a political will, there is an administrative way to cancel it,” said Sugumaran.

Tuesday 9 June 2009

Ban Sisters in Islam?

I admire Sisters in Islam. They are living proof that there can be moderation within Islamic groups. They are testament of women's rights within Islam.

I do not understand why PAS has called for their ban. Then again, what can you expect from Parti SE-ISLAM Malaysia? Aren't these the very extremist who have threatened racial stability in Malaysia every now and then? Just because they have put on a show in recent times, with 'Non-Muslim Supporters Clubs' and what not, will that change the essence of a group that is built solely on fanaticsm?

DAP? PKR? What say you? Do you support this demand or not? YES? Or NO? Malaysians want to know!

Monday 1 June 2009

Ref Malaysiakini: Zaid Ibrahim is spot on!

Former minister and ex-UMNO leader Zaid Ibrahim lashed at Utusan Malaysia for being a racist paper. I cannot agree more. Utusan IS more racist, and more deserving of suspension, than perhaps any other publication in this country. Zaid went on to correct the misconception that non-Malays in this country should be treated as ingrates for demanding for what is constitutionally and rightly theirs.

I feel now, more than ever, that Zaid's exit from BN is a great loss to the coalition. I reproduce below the Malaysiakini article on the story.

Zaid torches Utusan for stoking racial flames
Jun 1, 09 7:00pm
Former Umno leader and minister Zaid Ibrahim has lashed out at Malay daily Utusan Malaysia for playing up racial sentiments.

He said the articles which appeared in the daily's Sunday edition reminded him of how far removed the paper is from the reality of life in Malaysia.

zaid ibrahim pc umno sacking 041208 07"This is probably the reason why its readership is on the decline. It's theme and main plot is race, race and race," he added in a blog posting.

Zaid cited a particular article with the heading 'Melayu dikhianati?' (Malays betrayed) penned by Awang Selamat.

In the article, the former Umno leader said, the writer lamented that he is hurt by the demands, which reek of racism, of the non-Malays since the last general election.

"In other words, Malaysians must not hurt the feelings of Awang Selamat because when Awang Selamat is hurt, Umno is hurt and when Umno is hurt, the Malays are hurt.

"This is the logic of Awang Selamat," he added.

Zaid said the writer made no mention of the 'extreme' demands made by the non-Malays in his article.

"If they (the non-Malays) are asking about scholarships, land allocation and employment opportunities, can't these questions be addressed rationally and based on facts?

"Why get hurt so easily?" he asked. 

Are all their demands baseless?

The former de facto law minister also questioned if all the demands of the non-Malays, whose rights are enshrined under the Federal Constitution, were baseless?

According to Awang Selamat, he said, this appears to be the case because "50 years ago Umno and the Malays were generous enough to offer citizenship to their (non-Malays) ancestors."

"Since Umno had been gracious in according them citizenship, their descendants should never make any demands because they must always be grateful to Umno," he added.

Zaid pointed out that this is the exact mindset which is no longer viable and has been rejected by all races.

When a citizen, be it a Malay, Chinese or Indian, asks for something, he said it is the duty of the government and the media to evaluate it in order to grant the request.

"If the demand is excessive, explain but don't raise history to cover up shortcomings. Do not get angry always, threaten and dish out pieces of incomplete history for political mileage," he said.

Zaid also reminded that the country obtained independence because the British agreed with the alliance on the terms. "When we agree, we must honour the agreement," he said.

In view of this, he said there was no reason to state that "we were being generous in granting citizenship to the Chinese and Indians."

"The fact is, that is the term we agreed to. At the time, it was impossible for the British to relinquish Malaya if the issue of citizenship for Chinese and Indians was not resolved.

"The British were strict on this issue and Umno agreed. That is the price which the Alliance accepted with an open heart. Does Utusanhave different historical facts?" he added.

Zaid said even if one went by the perception that Umno was generous in giving citizenship to non-Malays, there is still no room for Awang Selamat's 'feudalist mindset' in a modern nation.

Those with 'blind hearts' 

Meanwhile, he said another article by senior writer Zulkiflee Bakar had advised Utusan readers not to be 'historically blind'.

"I suppose Malays like myself are historically blind. But history is not difficult to learn and I am interested in knowing more.

"However, the most unfortunate people are those whose hearts are blind. When our hearts are blind, no amount of facts or knowledge can fill the void," he added.

Zaid said instead of stoking racial sentiments, Utusan should help the prime minister find ways to develop the economy via pragmatic and just policies.

"To Utusan, the Malays fail because of the Chinese and Indians. Wake up Utusan, non-Malays and Malays themselves can tell the difference between the Malay race and Umno, they know that when an Umno policy is criticised, it is not challenging the Malays but Umno.

"Much effort is being put into creating friction between the Malays and Chinese. Believe me, racial flames will not burn as brightly as before," he said.

"The Malay mindset has changed. They know the challenges that lie ahead in the world and the changes which they must make. OnlyUtusan has not realised this," he added.