Friday, October 09, 2020

Will Malaysian farmers, communities fight for their rights? Will Malaysian farmers brave bullets, prison fighting for their land, livelihood...?

It is easy to complain to friends that your RIGHTS are being violated - but unless you fight for your rights...your rights including rights to land, good life and livelihood, etc gets violated..

Many may simply bring it to the attention of politicians...their 'wakil rakyat', MPs and ADUNs...they may even bring it to the attention to Chief Ministers and Ministers...but alas, nothing happens despite sometimes 'promises' - The next time, they may say that they have raised it to the attention of the government or government agencies ...or even the Prime Minister - But did they? And then, the next question will be 'how and when"? Did they really HIGHLIGHT or was it simply a comment in passing like 'hey, you should look in the problems of the people of Kampung ...during some party or event...The MINIMUM that they could do was to send a letter, and forward a copy to the complainants(affected people) - if this too was not done - then it may just have been lies or 'false promises' - simply made at the moment to appease their constituents with may no sincere attention of doing anything..

The problem with Malaysians, whose rights have been violated or at risk of their rights being violated BELIEVE in these 'false promises' of these politicians and/or wakil rakyats ....and they wait and wait for a resolution to their problems that may never come..The people believe that these persons(wakil rakyat, politicians and/or MP/ADUN or some Dato...) will FIGHT for their rights and are fighting - but then they may be FOOLS...

Thus some time, people must themselves stand up and fight for their rights - risking the possibility of repercussions - jail, injured, killed, having to spend monies, etc  

When the rights get violated and continue to be violated, some of these politicians may have the excuse that 'they tried their best' - but is that also a 'lie' - Ask them what exactly that they do..

End of the day, most times, it is the people themselves that really have to stand up and fight for your rights - it may be a folly to depend on politicians, some 'wakil rakyat' , political parties, Ministers, others  or even the government to fight for your rights..

In Malaysia today, a very business friendly government who is also involved in businesses through government owned or linked companies, may really not be so inclined to support a person or communities  whose rights have been violated - more so when the violator happens to be linked to business, the rich or even politicians, etc 

Actions need to be PUBLIC - and the fight must be strong. One person is weak - so better to struggle with numbers...and even get the support of others not affected who believe in justice and human rights. 

The struggle needs to be persistent - therefore sending of one time letter or Memorandum will not work in this modern world. There must be follow-ups regularly until an answer is obtained - which then may need further action. If one continuously knock on the door, then finally closed doors will open up.

So do not simply talk about your rights being violated, but you yourself do not want to fight for your rights ...

Sadly, many Malaysians keep voting for the same 'wakil rakyat' or even political parties even if they may have 'caused' or failed to together fight for your rights - foolish, is it not? Why did you vote him/her? Well, because same religion...same ethnicity...same political party as me...I know him for a long time or met him ...he is a 'nice man' >>> but the most important question is that whether he/she is willing to fight for the rights and good of the people - What has he done before? History of persons are very important - a person who never before raised and fought for an issue of the people or against an injustice or rights violation > what makes you think that he/she will change after being elected....A person who never publicly took a position on an issue - what makes you think he will now raise issues and fight after elected...Do not be a FOOL and chose the wrong 'wakil rakyat' - you may even be making things worse as far as your rights and livelihood are concerned.

VOTE wisely for the best person, who is really concerned and will act strongly even if it means going against his/her party leaders or government(where his party is part of) without FEAR AND FAVOUR to uphold the cause of justice...for the people...for you and I.

The story about the Thai farmers may be inspirational ...




Thai farmers brave bullets, prison for community land titles

About a third of Thailand's 69 million people depend on land for a living, but nearly 80 of private land is formally owned by just about a fifth of the population. — Reuters pic
About a third of Thailand's 69 million people depend on land for a living, but nearly 
80 of private land is formally owned by just about a fifth of the population. — Reuters pic

KLONG SAI PATTANA, Oct 6 — Somruedee Bunthonglek has not repaired the bullet holes in the pickup truck her husband was driving when he survived an assassination attempt barely a year after her father was shot dead on the same communal farm in southern Thailand.

The grey truck, with about half a dozen bullet holes on the driver's side, is a reminder of the risks to the community that occupied about 237 acres of land in Klong Sai Pattana as an act of defiance after a palm oil plantation's licence expired.

Four members of the Southern Peasants' Federation of Thailand (SPFT) in Surat Thani province were killed between 2010 and 2015, and many more sued and jailed since, in a more than decade-long fight for land and community titles.

“We worry about being attacked again, or being sued, but this is our land, and we are staying on to fight for it,” said Somruedee, 33, adding that her husband left the community after he was attacked in 2016, fearing for his safety.

“We have no other land. So what choice do we have — this is all we have,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

No one was convicted for the attacks, which the villagers believe were carried out by gunmen hired by the local real estate mafia. The cases were closed for lack of sufficient evidence, police officials have said.

About a third of Thailand's 69 million people depend on land for a living, but nearly 80 of private land is formally owned by just about a fifth of the population, according to land rights groups who have long called for reforms.

Beginning in 1901, various land laws were passed, including a 2010 regulation for community land titles under the Abhisit Vejjajiva government, and a 2014 legislation for communal plots. A community forest bill was unveiled last year.

Yet issuance of community titles has been slow, and the farmers do not get ownership rights.

“Many governments have said they would allocate land to the landless poor, but they didn't. So we decided to occupy unused land or where licences had expired,” said Pratheep Rakhanthong, a community leader of SPFT, which was formed in 2008.

“Sustainability of livelihoods and lives is only possible with a title, and when the right to own and manage the land belongs to the community,” he added.

The Agricultural Land Reform Office (Alro), a government agency, initially allowed the villagers to take over the land in Klong Sai Pattana as a pilot for community farming, then asked them to leave, Pratheep said.

The Alro did not respond to requests for a comment.

Root cause

Land rights groups in Thailand estimate that there are more than 8 million landless people in the country.

Under the 2010 regulation, 50 communities were promised collective rights. But few such titles have been awarded, according to the department of land.

While the 2007 Thai Constitution gives people the right to participate in managing natural resources and the environment, evictions from forests and farmland have risen to make way for mines and power plants, triggering protests nationwide.

The government adopted a Western land code in 1901 that was based on private property ownership, and subsequent land laws have been in the same vein, said Jessica Vechbanyongratana, an assistant professor of economics at Chulalongkorn University.

“It leaves little space for alternative ownership arrangements, including community land rights,” she said.

“Community activists have managed to bring about small changes that have resulted in greater land rights for some groups of people, but there has not been a complete overhaul of the system,” she said.

It is unlikely to be a priority now, she added, as authorities focus on reviving the economy after the coronavirus.

SPFT advocates a progressive land tax, a national land bank to support landless peasants, and the protection of agricultural lands for farmers.

It joined other land rights groups in protests in 2018, when authorities committed to speeding up community land titles.

Now the groups back ongoing anti-government protests led by students across the country calling for systemic reform.

“The protesters realise farmers are struggling, and that we need to amend the constitution and the land laws,” said Pienrat Boonrit, president of SPFT in Phoem Sap community in Surat Thani, which has occupied 267 acres of abandoned land.

“The system does not address the root cause of the problem, which is the unequal land distribution. It is out of frustration that we have occupied land — there is no other choice,” he said.

Earlier this year, deputy agriculture minister Thammanat Prompao said that there were plans to lease land “misused” by businesses to those who wished to use them, although not all of these lands would be converted for agricultural use.

Night patrol

More than 70 human rights and environmental activists have been killed in Thailand over the last 50 years, according to rights group Protection International (PI).

Many more have been sued and jailed — a tactic increasingly adopted by companies to intimidate villagers, says PI.

In Surat Thani's Nam Daeng Pattana community — which occupied about 475 acres of an unused palm oil plantation — 14 villagers were sued for trespass and property damage in 2017.

Seven were convicted and sentenced to two years and eight months in jail.

Vilaiwan Klabnui, 43, one of two women who was jailed, received a royal pardon in April and was released after nearly two years in prison. The others remain in prison.

“This is my land, my home. Being in jail did not change my mind,” said Vilaiwan, who grows rubber, palm oil and fruit on her plot of about 22 acres.

“We are farmers, not criminals — we need the land to make a living and feed our families,” she said.

At Klong Sai Pattana, where the community gathers every morning for roll call, a meeting and exercise, they still take turns to man lookout posts 24 hours a day, and have a night patrol. Many villagers carry walkie-talkies.

Near the community hall is a memorial for the four SPFT members who were killed — including two women — with their names on a blue plaque.Are

“This land, this community is all we have. It is what my father wanted, so we will continue to fight,” said Somruedee.

“I hope we will get our community title so we can be more secure, so our children can have a better life.” — Thomson Reuters Foundation - Malay Mail, 6/10/2020

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