Let's meet, deputy CM tells High Chaparral villagers

Penang Pakatan Rakyat government has arranged for a meeting with Kampung Buah Pala residents tomorrow night in an effort to end the long-running High Chaparral crisis.

About 10 state officials arrived at the village in Bukit Gelugor today morning and handed out invitation letters from Deputy Chief Minister 2 P Ramasamy.

The letter signed by Ramasamy (right) said that the meeting would be held in Chief Minister's operations room at Level 28 Komtar at 8pm on Wednesday.

Kampung Buah Pala Residents Association assistant secretary C Tharmaraj accompanied the state officials during the 10am stroll.
The nearly 200-year-old traditional village has 24 households, comprising 65 families and 300 residents.

The letter of invite urged villagers to attend the meeting on their own accord.

The association secretary J Stephen Draviam said the letter obviously forbid the villagers' lawyer from attending the meeting.

Villagers told to vacate land by Aug 2

The letter stipulated that the meeting was organised to resolve all problems arising from the Federal Court decision on June 24.

The Federal Court ruling upheld an earlier Court of Appeal decision favouring the new land owner Koperasi Pegawai Kanan Kerajaan Pulau Pinang and developer Nusmetro Venture (P) Sdn Bhd.

The villagers were served an eviction notice by the developer on July 2 for vacant possession of the land by Aug 2.

They will have to move out from the village where current residents and their ancestors have lived for six generations, and pave way for a lucrative condominium project called Oasis.

A scheduled meeting with Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng earlier this month was aborted when the officials refused the village legal advisor Darshan Singh Khaira from accompanying the residents.

Kampung Buah Pala is also commonly known among locals as Tamil High Chaparral, named after the popular Western television series in 1960s, for its population of cowherds, cattles, goats, other livestocks and lively Indian cultural features.

Several civil societies have joined the villagers to urge the state government to preserve the site as a state living human heritage village.
We need our legal advisor, say villagers

The association will hold a meeting with the villagers tonight to decide on the state government's proposed meeting tomorrow.

Tharmaraj said the association hoped that the state government would allow Darshan (left) to attend the meeting.

"We are just residents of a village. We need our legal advisor's assistance to find a way to end our predicament," he told Malaysiakini.
During a visit to the village last night, MIC youth national coordinator T Mohan said he would lead a group of party youth on Aug 3 to resist any attempt by the developer to demolish and flatten the village.

"Let the authorities arrest me if they want," he said, adding that Pakatan state government had failed to initiate any constructive measures to resolve the High Chaparral crisis thus far.

Human Rights Party (HRP) leader P Uthayakumar and his Hindu Rights Action Force supporters have already vowed to stop the developer from bulldozing the village.

Malaysiakini
21/07/09

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