'Budget 2013 poor on housing and land grab issues'

nara.jpg(Malaysiakini) Hindraf and the pro-tem committee of Land Rights Defenders Association have come together to question Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s Budget 2013 over its priorities in housing issues.

Hindraf national adviser N Ganesan said the recently announced budget is not very different in policy terms from any recent previous ones, as the Housing Ministry comes out 12th out of 25 ministries.

He added that compared with the allocations for the Finance Ministry, Prime Minister’s Department and the Defence Ministry, which alone gets a total of RM72 billion, the Housing and Local Government Ministry gets less than RM3 billion.

“This is a clear indication of where the priorities of the federal government lie. Not really for the people,” said Ganesan at a press conference held in Penang yesterday.

Ganesan (right) said the entire housing needs of the country appear to have been outsourced to the developers 222f5bd5f648b2ac5ca36b109b8cb04e.jpgand this policy limits the spread of prosperity to the people.

He added that outsourcing is such a “convenient policy” for it provides the necessary cover for the government to be on the side of the developers.

“This results in super profits for the developers both by land grabbing on the input side and excessively high prices of properties on the output side,” said Ganesan.

“The federal government’s budget is not a people’s budget in spite of their claims,” added the Hindraf leader, who was accompanied by the association’s pro-tem committee chairperson Santok Singh.

Santok and several others in Kampung Boundary 5 are embroiled in a legal suit, while 200 other families have accepted a compensation package - which the former group laments is not adequate - from developer Bersatu Stabil Sdn Bhd in 2009.

The pro-tem committee had held its first meeting on Sept 2 and a formal application has been submitted to the Registrar of Societies.

Members include representatives from Kampung Chetty (Batu Ferringhi), Kampung Tanjung Tokong, Kampung Nenas (Bukit Tengah), Kampung Dok (Bukit Tengah), Kampung Mount Erskine and Kampung Boundary 5.

The group has identified notable land grabbing episodes in Kampung Buah Pala, Kampung Boundary and Kampung Nenas in Penang, Ladang Bukit Jalil in Kuala Lumpur and Ladang Serampah Indah (Gatco) in Negri Sembilan.

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Meanwhile,  Ganesan zoomed into the state government’s immediate obligation to resolve the matter in the spirit of promoting and protecting the human rights of all Penangites, not merely the rights of developers.

Ganesan added that the developers are only responding to the ongoing agenda of the state government for development, which is why the latter has a fair share of duty to resolve the problems of eviction.

“The state government has a moral obligation to see every Penangite prosper, not just the developer community,” he said.

“If this situation continues, the people pushed out will not be able to own expensive homes in Penang and get pushed out to the periphery, while the developer walks away with super profits,” he added.

Ganesan said the state led by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng  grew up on the shouts of social justice and human rights in his DAP Socialist Youth days.

He added that if there were social injustice issues to be addressed, there could not be a better place and opportunity to do within the state of which Lim himself is CM.

“A government based on the values of social justice and human rights must step in to equalise the situation,” he urged Lim, who is the state assemblyperson for Air Putih, where Kampung Boundary is situated.

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