SHARANJIT SINGH: Saga a first failed test for DAP-led administration

(NST) LOOKS like the sun is finally setting on Kampung Lorong Buah Pala, popularly known as Penang's High Chaparral.

It is only a matter of time before the bulldozers and demolition workers move in to flatten the 150-year old village, which is home to a group of mainly cowherds.

The villagers have waged a David-and-Goliath battle against a property developer, the state government and just about anyone who wants to come between them and their homes.

The face-off has captivated the whole country for the past few months.

However, the brave fight to save their village looks set to end in heartbreak as the residents have just about lost every battle, from the courts to negotiations with the developer.


To compound matters, even the state government and its assemblymen who had promised to save the village in their general election campaign had failed to deliver.

Instead, the villagers have been given more false hopes, with Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng just recently threatening to immediately revoke the development order issued to Nusmetro Ventures (P) Sdn Bhd for a RM200 million project at the village.

Lim's threat was widely reported in the media on July 25.

However, it was later revealed that Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) had yet to receive any order from the state government to cancel the development approval.

Ironically, Lim is now singing a different tune by saying that there was nothing much the state could do if residents reject an offer of a-house-for-a-house by the developer.

Nusmetro had set a Friday midnight deadline for the villagers to accept the offer, which came with several conditions that the villagers claimed were unfavourable to them.

This included a clause that the developer would not be obliged to fulfil the promise of building them the houses should the authorities reject the development approval.

The villagers' rejection of the offer has prompted Lim to now accuse the residents of becoming excessive in their demands.

"They should be reasonable, I fear they will lose public support. In fact, they have lost a lot of public support," he was quoted as saying on Friday.

However, as the village residents' association chairman M. Sugumaran rightly pointed out, the issue is not about public support for the villagers' cause.

"We have been living here all our lives and will not give up our homes easily. They are now trying to paint us as greedy but we cannot accept the developer's offer as it is full of loopholes.

"Tell me, who would accept an offer which does not come with guarantees?" he asked.

As the villagers now wait for their worst fear to come to pass, the Kampung Lorong Buah Pala saga is set to become the first failed test for Penang's DAP-led Pakatan Rakayat administration.