Buah Pala villagers to decide tonight on solutions offered by Penang government

KUALA LUMPUR, July 24 – The residents of Kampung Buah Pala are likely to agree to a settlement and finally end the controversy at a top-level meeting with the Penang state government tonight.

They are due to come back with their decision on three choices that Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had offered them at a meeting on Wednesday.

They will meet Lim and his deputy Prof Dr P. Ramasamy.

“Depending on how they decide, a solution is possible…we are confident,” Dr Ramasamy told The Malaysian Insider by telephone.

He said the solutions are cash compensation (up to RM200,000 per resident), landed properties within the Buah Pala development area or rebuilding their lives at an alternative site some distance away.

“They have to come back with their decision and it has got to be a collective decision,” Dr Ramasamy said adding all affected residents must agree on one of the three choices.

“I find that they are more inclined towards landed properties within the development area,” Dr Ramasamy said adding once a final decision is reached by the resident then the state government will take it up with the developer.

He said the developer is backed by a powerful political group and they have urged the residents to unite behind the state government to face the developer, demand their rights and get the best possible deal from the situation.

The issue has become a political time bomb for the DAP-led Pakatan Rakyat state government with various groups – NGOs, political parties and the Hindraf and Makkal Sakthi movement – all pulling in different directions.

It has also become a racial issue with DAP Chinese leaders accused of “doing nothing” because the aggrieved party were Indians.

Numerous distorted and racial slurs are also being widely circulated.

Dr Ramasamy said despite these unfair accusations, the state government continues to fight for the residents and puts their welfare above all other considerations.

The courts have also consistently held that the residents have no legal rights over the land and have authorised the developer to evict the residents and that is slated for August 3.

With the legal options virtually closed, Ramasamy urged residents to work with the state government to develop alternative fall back plans because eviction seems inevitable.

“We sympathise with them and seriously want to resolve their problems but we must all face the reality,” he said adding there was no such thing as a “stroke of the pen” solution as claimed by some critics.

He also slammed the MIC for pulling a “cheap stun” by staging a demonstration against the state government while submitting a memorandum on the issue on Thursday.

He said some in the crowd led by MIC Youth leader T. Mohan, had also chased and assaulted one of his assistants M. Sathis, who lodged a police report today.

“Those who assaulted him are hooligans and thugs and we have rejected the memorandum they gave,” Ramasamy said adding the state government will not entertain memorandums from the MIC which has been rejected by the people.

The MIC Youth wing had offered to buy back the land for the original sales price of RM3.2 million.

“This is a cheap stunt … the land with the development plan is worth over RM150 million. The MIC should instead use the money to pay back the Maika Holdings shareholders,” Ramasamy said.


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