Press Statement by Lim Guan Eng in Georgetown on Tuesday, 30th June 2009:
Hindraf must wake up and realise that Kampung Buah Pala is still standing today because the Penang Pakatan Rakyat State Government had successfully prevented them from been evicted in the middle of last year
The Penang Pakatan Rakyat state government has never consented nor approved any demolition of Kampung Buah Pala. Any action taken is by the private developer via a court order issued by the relevant courts.
Up to RM 200,000 per family was offered by the developer to the residents which was accepted by many families but not by those remaining in Kampung Buah Pala. The state government respected the decision of those remaining in Kampung Buah Pala to reject any compensation offer and to fight it out in courts.
If the state government had not been sympathetic to the plight of the residents, then the developer would have evicted the residents in the middle of last year when a court order was obtained. Only the determined preventive efforts by Penang DCM2 Professor P Ramasamy and Penang State EXCO Abdul Malek stopped the developer from entering the village with bulldozers several times last year.
All parties must therefore realise that it is only because of the efforts of the present Pakatan Rakyat state government that the Kampung Buah Pala residents are still living there.
Koh Tsu Koon owes the public a full explanation why he sold the Kampung Buah Pala at a cheap price of only RM 10 per square feet in 2007 and without consulting the residents
The state government land of Kampung Buah Pala was approved to Koperasi Pegawai Kerajaan Pulau Pinang twice by the BN Penang state EXCO led by Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon on 18.8.2004 and 8.6.2005 with a premium of RM 6.42 million or RM 20 per square feet. I can not understand neither the rationale of approving this project without consulting the residents nor selling it at such a low price.
Worse Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon’s EXCO reduced the premium further by 50% to RM 3.21 million or only RM 10 per square feet on the recommendation of the UMNO Deputy Chief Minister. Koh Tsu Koon owes the public a full explanation why he sold Kampung Buah Pala at a cheap price of only RM 10 per square feet in 2007 when the market price in this prime area is many times over and without consulting the residents.
The Penang State Government should not be unfairly victimised and targeted by Hindraf for helping the Kampung Buah Pala residents
It is BN, Gerakan, MIC, UMNO & MCA that are the main culprits for causing, abandoning and even selling out Kampung Buah Pala residents.
The Penang state government regrets the highly irresponsible and irrational actions of Hindraf in targeting the Penang state government over the actions taken by the developer to evict residents in Kampung Buah Pala. Hindraf wants the state government to act against the court order obtained by the developer to evict the residents. This the state government can not do as Pakatan Rakyat governs under the rule of law and is compelled to respect any court order issued.
On the other hand, there have been suggestions that the Penang state government forcibly acquires the land under for a public purpose under the Land Acquisition Act. Doing so would play into the hands into the developer who would be able to reap enormous profits without putting in a single cent. Much as the Penang state government would wish to do, cancelling the project and forcibly acquiring the land would incur costs beyond the financial capability of the state government. We are NOT talking about millions of ringgit or tens of millions of ringgit here!
Clearly Hindraf is unable to distinguish who its friends are by likening such actions to UMNO’s tearing down of Hindu temple. And yet Hindraf does not organise nation-wide protests for the recent tearing down Hindu temples in Kuala Lumpur. The Penang state government should not be unfairly victimised or targeted by Hindraf when we have assisted the residents and also not involved with the tearing down of any Hindu temple in Penang.
Why is Hindraf not demonstrating against UMNO or Gerakan or MCA or even MIC who are the main culprits and perpetrators behind Kampung Buah Pala? This begs the question whether Hindraf has now been infiltrated by collaborators of MIC and BN when it should be demonstrating against those who demolish temples and not the Penang state government seeking a fair deal for the Kampung Buah Pala villagers.
Hindraf should realise what the Penang state government has done for the Indian community, temples and Tamil primary schools. Not only was the first Indian Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang appointed but the 28 Tamil primary schools were given a yearly allocation of RM 1.5 million along with other Chinese primary, Sekolah Agama Rakyat, missionary schools and Chinese independent secondary schools. Further Penang put up the FIRST Tamil road signs in the country alongside with Arabic, Chinese and English bilingual road signs in Georgetown. Even Hindraf never even raised the issue of Tamil road signs.
By going against the Penang state government, Hindraf is indirectly helping UMNO and BN and putting all the achievements made by the Penang state government at risk. There will be no Indian DCM2, no yearly allocation of funds to Tamil primary schools and no more Tamil road signs or bilingual road signs. Hindraf should use reason not emotions of rage or anger and think again who are the real opponents and the real friends of the Indian community.
Most important of all, the Penang state government treats all Indians together with Chinese and Malays as Malaysian citizens, where a Chinese leader can look after Malays a Malay leader can look after Chinese and an Indian leader can look after all citizens. DAP and the Pakatan Rakyat government will not back down or be cowed by BN, UMNO or Hindraf who continues to look at problems from a narrow racial spectrum of Chinese, Indian of Malays. DAP and the Penang Pakatan Rakyat government believes that the issues of Indians are not Indian problems, the issues of Chinese are not Chinese problems nor the issues of Malays not Malay problems but a Malaysian issue.
We should be uniting together as Malaysians around the principles of justice, truth, freedom, democracy and welfare of the people to ensure that we fight corruption to both generate growth and prosperity as well as ensure that everyone shares equitably.
However despite regretting the unwarranted targeting of the Penang state government, Hindraf leaders have the right to exercise the basic human rights of peaceful assembly by demonstrating no matter how unreasonable they are. I have instructed my officials to respect their rights and accept any memorandum submitted in line with non-violent principles of Mahatma Gandhi that, “violence begets violence, an eye for any eye would leave everyone blind.” I also urge the police not to take any action that would lead to untoward actions.
The state government will also not be affected by the actions of the residents in suddenly turning against the state government despite all the assistance offered. The state government will continue to assist the remaining residents of Kampung Buah Pala, including if the residents so wish, that the developer of Kampung Buah Pala continues with its offer of up to RM 200,000 compensation per registered family to the residents. The state government has also not given any consent or agreement to the developer to demolish any buildings as the developer is acting on his own under the court order from the High Court and Federal Court.
* Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary-General & Penang Chief Minister; Member of Parliament for Bagan