Penang declassifies Kg Buah Pala files, appeals to villagers

By Wong Choon Mei, Suara Keadilan

In a bid to clear the air and find a way forward for the Kampung Buah Pala residents, the Pakatan Rakyat state government has decided to declassify information related to the shady sale of village land undertaken by the previous administration led by Umno-BN’s Koh Tsu Koon.

Caught in a bind by the transaction that was hammered through without consulting them, Kampung Buah Pala folk have been up in arms over the matter, especially as an August 3 eviction deadline neared.

But emotions have gotten out of hand, making it difficult for the current Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to work out a solution, without ‘backseat drivers’ trying to make full use of the villagers’ plight for their own political agenda.

In particular, outlawed Tamil rights group Hindraf has been active in instigating the villagers into demands that have been slammed by many other Penangites as unreasonable.

“I wish to appeal to the residents not to be manipulated by certain irresponsible parties but to come and meet me for a heart to heart talks,” Guan Eng said in a statement out on Thursday.

“By refusing to meet, the residents are playing into the hands of the land robbers who want to these talks to fail, the residents evicted, their houses demolished and Pakatan Rakyat blamed.

“Unlike BN, the PR government has not cheated the residents of a single inch of their land and will try out all legal avenues suggested by their legal counsel, Cecil Rajendra.

“Time is running out and the residents should distinguish between those who are sincere in helping them against those who are distracting attention from the real culprits who robbed them of their land.”

Let the truth sink in, don’t allow yourselves to be used

According to Guan Eng, the decision to declassify the deals swung by Tsu Koon’s government was taken by the current state executive council, with the approval of the state legal department.

“The chronology of events prove beyond a shadow of doubt that Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon And His Umno, MCA, MIC and Gerakan cohorts has robbed Kampung Buah Pala residents of their land without consulting them,” Guan Eng said.

The sale of the Kampung Buah Pala state government land to Koperasi Pegawai Kerajaan Pulau Pinang was approved twice by Tsu Koon’s Umno-BN state exco on August 18, 2004 and June 8, 2005.

Initially, a premium of RM 6.42 million or RM 20 per square feet was set but this was later slashed down to only RM 3.21 million or RM 10 per square feet.

At the federal level, Prime Minister Najib Razak has refused to consider extending any financial assistance to the state as requested by Guan Eng, making it impossible for the Pakatan administration to buy back the land as asked by the villagers without incurring heavy losses that would cripple its other operations.

“So far Koh Tsu Koon has not explained why he approved this project without consulting the residents or selling it to Koperasi at such a low price,” said Guan Eng, who is also DAP secretary-general and Bagan MP.

He added that he would continue to try and meet the remaining 23 families who have refused to shift out of the village.

On Wednesday, they refused to see him without the presence of a third party – ostensibly their lawyer but whose credentials have not been checked and is unknown to many of the residents.

“If BN was in power now and not Pakatan Rakyat, the residents would have been evicted and Kampung Buah Pala would have been demolished since last year.

“Questions are raised why one or two of the so-called leaders of the residents are now so defensive of BN and anti-PR, particularly anti-DAP.

“Why is this aggression targeted against the PR government that is trying to help them? In contrast not a single demonstration or action is taken against the BN land robbers who deprived them of their rights,” Guan Eng said.