GEORGE TOWN (June 29, 2009): The Penang government is working overtime for a settlement between the developer of a land housing the century-old Kampung Buah Pala and the villagers there, even as Hindraf announces plans to burn Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s effigy at Komtar on Wednesday.
Lim said today his two deputies, Mansor Othman and Prof Dr P Ramasamy, were aggressively pursuing the matter and urged villagers to entrust them to proceed legally.
"You need to distinguish between who your friend is and who your enemy is," he said, stressing that the state had been working hard to ensure the villagers’ welfare.
"If we had taken any other position, would the villagers still be there?" he said at a press conference at his office here.
He said that the current government was working to help them when it was the Barisan Nasional (BN) that had caused the problem.
The residents say they were tenants of the Brown Estate and their tenancy was converted without their knowledge to Temporary Occupation Licences (TOL).
The High Court had decided last year in favour of the residents, but it was overturned by the Court of Appeal on May 11 this year, giving owner Koperasi Pegawai Kanan Kerajaan and developer Nusmetro Sdn Bhd vacant possession of the land.
On June 24, the Federal Court dismissed the residents’ case on grounds that their claims had no standing.
Hindraf adviser S. Uthayakumar has said the state could secure the village by acquiring the land on grounds of public purpose and interests, under Section 76 of the National Land Code 1965 read together with the Land Acquisition Act.
Lim responded by saying such a proposition was not feasible as it would involve the state having to pay a lot of money. "We cannot afford. We are talking about a very substantial sum. You do not even dare to guess the amount," he said.
Villagers told reporters that they were summoned for a meeting with the George Town district police chief and the developers last Saturday.
They said they were told by the police to cooperate when a court bailiff serves them a writ to vacate on Thursday.
Lim, however, said he was not informed about the matter by the police or the bailiff.
He added that Hindraf should pursue the federal government to compensate for the land as the problem was caused by BN.
Meanwhile, Mansor, who heads a special investigation committee on the transfer of the land, said he would meet with the developer tomorrow to persuade them not to issue the writ yet.
"I think we will be able to persuade them not to do this," he said.
"Since the police and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) are not investigating how the land was transferred to the cooperative, the state is doing so," he added.
Mansor said he has asked the developer to cooperate with the committee until the investigation is over as soon as possible.
On Hindraf’s planned protest against the state government, Mansor said he respected the movement’s views but urged it to consider what the state was doing for villagers.
Kalau Hindraf teruskan juga, memanglah Hindraf bagai lembu yang dicucuk hidung dan dipermainkan oleh UMNO. Kita yakin kaum India lebih bijak dari itu. Kalau nak buat bantahan, sasaran sepatutnya BN.
Masalah kelihatan bermula apabila mahkamah Rayuan menerima permohonan BN sedangkan mahkamah Tinggi sudahpun memihak kepada rakyat. Kejadian yang sama berlaku dalam isu rampasan kuasa haram di Perak. Kelakar betul..