Sunday, August 16, 2009

Kg Buah Pala - they must stay UNITED to fight for their rights. Who is helping and who it not?

Kg Buah Pala - Below are some of my observations and opinions that I would like to share:-

Who has the responsibility to resolve this matter? Past BN State government or present PR government?

Many would say that the problem was created by Koh Tsu Koon and the previous BN-State government...but the fact is that at present there is a new Chief Minister and a new

Pakatan Rakyat State government, and the responsibility to resolve this issue NOW...dispute lies with the Pakatan Rakyat government.

How many Families...persons are really involved?

40-odd families are involved - but some have been using a lesser figure to confuse us. Or maybe, we should look closely the words they use the smaller figures...A Bernama report, gives the impression that there are only 18...but wait, they say 18 TOL Holders...meaning there are other occupants ...maybe another 22-odd families who are not TOL holders..It would be good if any reader could supply information about how many men, women and children are staying in Kg Buah Pala...
The 40-odd families are making a last-ditch stand against the developers Numestro Venture (P) Sdn Bhd who are in joint venture with landowners Koperasi Pegawai Kerajaan Pulau Pinang. Star, 14/8/2009, Case of a severe land malady - By P. GUNASEGARAM
Sixteen of the 18 temporary occupation licence (TOL) holders in Kampung Buah Pala here... Bernama, 13/8/2009, Sixteen Kg Buah Pala Houseowners Agree To Move Out Before Sept 1

Is this matter still not before the courts? Should we not wait for the court case to be finished before demolishing these homes?

Yes, it is. There is an application for revision before the Federal Court. Now, if the people succeed, they will definitely be permitted to continue living and working in Kg Buah Pala. But, if their homes are bulldozed and destroyed, and their cows dispersed now - would that now make the their application to the Federal Court purely academic. They may win - but alas, there will be no more homes and land to come back to. Normally, people would respect the Federal Court and wait until the court decides on the matter. I believe this was the deal before...

If, when the matter comes up before the Federal Court, and the court is made aware that all homes have been demolished already...then the court will not likely rule in favour of the people...because it serves no real purpose. To stand a chance for a positive ruling by the Federal Court in favour of the people of Kg Buah Pala, I believe that the people must fight to stay put in their current homes and land...

The villagers were not so lucky when they took their case to court. Initially, the High Court ruled in their favour last year but in May it was overturned by the Court of Appeal. They took their case to the Federal Court but lost it in June.

They have now applied for a revision of the Federal Court judgment that ruled against them and the application is fixed for mention on Aug 18, according to press reports. Star, 14/8/2009, Case of a severe land malady - By P. GUNASEGARAM

To fight for rights UNITY is essential ... so why are some trying to break-up the people of Kg Buah Pala?

To protect their rights and to maintain the strength of their claim, the people must ALL stand together and fight in the court of law...and, more importantly, in the court of public opinion..

I am sad that some have decided to abandon the struggle ... and have accepted the offers made by the Developer. I am sad that some PR 'wakil rakyat's' also seem to be behind this push to accept offers...and move out. They are even saying that the probe into the issue by the State should be discontinued.... I am shocked. I am dissappointed. I would have accepted this from BN reps ... but not from Pakatan Rakyat reps...

But a state assemblyman feels it is pointless to continue its probe into the matter as several residents had accepted an offer by the developer....Meanwhile, Seri Delima assemblyman R.S.N. Rayer said 12 temporary occupancy license holders had accepted the developer’s offer of double-storey terrace houses as compensation to vacate their houses.

“Since they have accepted, I don’t see any point in continuing the state government’s investigations into the sale of the land to a co-operative,” he said during a press conference at his office.

He added it was also pointless to invoke Section 116 (1) (d) as some of them had accepted the compensation.- Star, 16/8/2009, Rep: No point continuing land probe on Kampung Buah Pala

I hope it was just a case of inaccurate reporting...for the probe must definitely continue...for there are just too many questions that need to be answered....
In 2004 and 2005, the Penang state executive council then approved the sale of the 2ha-plus land at a premium of RM20 a sq ft or RM6.42mil to the Penang government officers’ cooperative.

This was halved to RM10 per sq ft or RM3.21mil in 2007. The current value of the land is estimated at as much as RM40mil, over a dozen times the price the state government got. This implies that the land was allocated at a tiny fraction of the market value. Star, 14/8/2009, Case of a severe land malady - By P. GUNASEGARAM

What people who support the struggle of the weak for justice must be doing is to ensure that there is solidarity and unity amongst the people - so that they will strong in their struggle for justice.

When the 4 families agreed to accept the developer's offer, they would have also most likely agreed to discontinue the Federal Court application. Now, most likely, before even the application could be heard on the merits, there may be a need for these 4 to make an application to be removed as parties in this application - hence wasting time, and delaying the hearing at the Federal Court...would this not be exactly what the Developers (and those in its corner) want?

Further, the fact that some are no longer pursuing the application may prejudice the Federal Court against the people. Remember, al-Maunah case - when suddenly prosecution made an offer to some the ability to plead to a lesser charge of assisting that would mean a jail-term and not a death penalty, which they took the deal. That fact, of course helped the prosecution, I believe, convince the judge that their absurd charge was true. [But really, most people thought that whole case was a farce...a drama..a 'wayang'].

Why is the Developer pressing to evict and demolish now? Possibly, because they are very worried that the Federal Court may rule in favour of the people of Kg Buah Pala the next time. Remember, the High Court judge was in favour of the people. This is not a lose...lose...lose case, but a WIN...lose...lose case, and, as such there is a chance of the people winning still...

What about that agreement that they allegedly signed stating that they will move out by 1st September?

We have seen this in Tamil movies...and even some English movies.. where under threat of violence, people have sold lands...signed agreements, etc... In our case, we have a situation where there is that court bailiff, police, developer's people and bulldozers...threathening to come in an destroy your home, property & belongings, put your children and family into danger... Do you think that this is in any way a valid agreement? I do not think so.

The people have a lawyer/s - and this agreement was apparently signed in his absence - and that is also why the agreement would not be a valid binding agreement...

I am shocked with the Court Bailiff who was involved in this ...a police report should be made against him. A complaint lodged. As an officer of the court, you have to be independent...and only perform your duties. You should have known that this was definitely the wrong way of doing things...

The 'outsiders' who even agreed to this nonsense, and even apparently witnessed this agreement...possibly through ignorance or maybe the desire to get media publicity, you have done something to the detriment of the people of Kg Buah Pala... "It's like a hanging rope for the villagers. The document is legally seeking the villagers' own admission that the land is not theirs," he[their legal adviser Darshan Singh Khaira] said.

The court bailiff then handed over a handwritten document to Tharmaraj requesting the villagers to sign it.

The document sought an assurance from the villagers that they would agree to move out from their respective homes by Sept 1.

The document also sought an assurance that demolition works will not be hindered once the new deadline expires.

Malaysian Makkal Sakti Party (MMSP) leaders RS Thanenthiran, MC Pitchay and A Vethamurthy have signed the documents as witnesses.

It is learnt that Thanenthiran (left) was involved in the impromptu negotiation.

Meanwhile, Tharmaraj said the villagers would consult their legal adviser Darshan Singh Khaira before deciding whether or not to sign the document.

This morning's planned demolition was thwarted when villagers formed a human barricade, preventing workers from entering the area.

The houses are to be torn down to pave the way for the construction of luxury condominiums.

Lawyer slams document

After speaking to the villagers for about an hour, Darshan told reporters that the villagers would not sign the document.

"It's like a hanging rope for the villagers. The document is legally seeking the villagers' own admission that the land is not theirs," he said.

Darshan has already lined up several cases to be filed on behalf of the villagers.

Among the cases were an application to caveat the land by the residents and an application for a stay of execution against demolition attempts by the developer and land owner.

Another application is to seek a court declaration that the state government shall allow the villagers to have legal representation in negotiations.

On Aug 18, the villagers' case for a review of the Federal Court decision on June 24 will be up for hearing. - Malaysiakini, 13/8/2009,
Demolition postponed to Sept 1
It looks like the villagers did not sign this document....but then other reports give an impression that they have signed stating that they agreed to move out...
Following the stand-off, police, the developer, the bailiff and the villagers' representatives resolved the matter amicably through on site negotiations with the party to be evicted agreeing to vacate the houses by Sept 1. Bernama, 13/8/2009, Sixteen Kg Buah Pala Houseowners Agree To Move Out Before Sept 1

Kampung Buah Pala residents have not given up hope of saving their century-old village although they have signed letters attesting that they will vacate their homes by Sept 1.- Star, 16/8/2009, Rep: No point continuing land probe on Kampung Buah Pala
The current state government must do what is just especially for the people - those oppresed and marginalized, and MONEY should not be an excuse for not doing what is just.

The State Government definitely have the power to stop the eviction and the demolition...Remember it is the State (or the Local Councils) that give the required approval/permit for demolition, the required approval/permit for development..development plans, etc... and they can always also insert conditions to be satisfied before....

The State Government can also use the Land Acquisition Act ....and acquire the land.

The State Government (and the Pakatan Rakyat appointed Local Council) have a lot of powers...and they can use it to ensure that justice is done...

Their residents’ association is insisting the state government take action against Nusmetro Ventures (P) Sdn Bhd which will soon build condominiums at the site....

Association assistant secretary C. Tharmaraj said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng should honour his promises to revoke the development approval of the project.

“The state government should also invoke Section 116 (1)(d) of the National Land Code to prevent the demolition of the 24 houses,” he told a press conference at the village here yesterday.

The section stipulates that consent of the state government was necessary before any demolition takes place.

Tharmaraj claimed that Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy had agreed to meet them over their problems with the developer.- - Star, 16/8/2009, Rep: No point continuing land probe on Kampung Buah Pala

Let's not forget the current owners of the land- the Penang government officers’ cooperative.

As public servants, they are different from other corporate entities. As public servants, they should be more caring and concerned about the welfare of the people. I am sure, they would be open to discussions - maybe even to the taking of another piece of State land.

Maybe, if the leaders of this cooperative is taking a 'wrong stance', some concerned members of this cooperative could call for an EGM ( a general meeting) to re-discuss this issue.

As owners, you cannot hide behind the Developer...or even the Cooperative. You, as public servant and member of this cooperative is responsible for what is happening and for the acts/omissions of the Developer, etc...

Let us not be focused on who is to be blamed - i.e. the previous BN Chief Minister and the previous government.

Let us now focus on the present - something that present PR/DAP Chief Minister and PR State Government can do...

When we look at numbers, of course the number of members of cooperative (and their families) - who are also Penang government officers are much more than the 40-0dd families of Kg Buah Pala. Let justice rule - not the question of 'political advantage' and MONEY rule.

No comments: