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.

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