Kampung Buah Pala: Pakatan’s true legacy

Kampung Buah Pala

Raghavan Nair, The Rakyat Post

THE 2008 General Election hosted some of the most fiery campaigns in Malaysia.

PKR’s supremo Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim walked into Kampung Buah Pala to speak to the residents, accompanied by his entourage.

He goes to an elderly villager, places his palm on the villager’s head, makes emotional eye contact and promises the residents that if the then state Opposition coalition of PKR, DAP and PAS is successful in wresting Penang from Barisan Nasional in the general election, the residents would be given land titles within two weeks for their homes in Kampung Buah Pala.

You can imagine how the villagers felt after the ballots had been counted and when the announcement was made that BN was defeated and Pakatan would govern Penang state.

They were overjoyed that finally they would be getting their land titles.

What looked like a wonderful happy ending scene from a Tamil movie was actually only an introduction to a whole load of pain and suffering for the residents.

The video footage of Anwar’s act of heroism during the election campaign went viral during the 2009 fiasco of Kg Buah Pala.

Kampung Buah Pala

What happened post-election was astounding, with the land being developed for housing.

The mandate given to Pakatan to govern the state was like escaping from the tiger’s lair and going straight into the crocodile’s mouth for the poor residents.

The residents even said they had documents to prove that the demolished Kampung Buah Pala land belonged to the villagers vis-a-vis a federal trust set up by former colonial estate owner, Helen Brown, not the state government. But who was there to hear their plight?

Hindraf, which tried to meet Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and his team for a discussion to solve the land issue, never got close to even Lim’s shadow.

Lim repeatedly said he would not meet any organisation that represented and fought for just a single ethnic group in the country as he only recognised multiracial organisations fighting for a multiracial cause.

He forgot the fact how he, together with Lim Kit Siang and other DAP comrades, fought tooth and nail for the welfare of the ethnic Chinese residents during the Kampung Khoo Kongsi issue in Penang previously.

There was nothing multiracial in Kampung Khoo Kongsi, yet Guan Eng was willing to sacrifice his life during that turmoil.

The truth is, the Buah Pala issue involved Indians and the Indians were right at the bottom of Guan Eng’s list of priorities. He again showed his “love” for Indians in the whole Penang Development Corporation (PDC) mess with low-cost houses and flats.

After the Pakatan alliance got bombarded from all angles in 2009, it eventually brokered a deal with the developer and was forced to build houses for the families whose land was cruelly snatched from them.

However, not everyone was happy with the deal brokered and demanded compensation.

As their request fell on deaf ears, the families that vouched to fight on for a fair compensation ultimately went back to BN for assistance.

Upon hearing this, Lim publicly criticised those families and said the Buah Pala issue was over.

He was not interested in negotiating with the unfortunate Indians and those who did not adhere to his deal.

Astonishingly, in a defamation suit between Guan Eng and Penang Citizens Awareness Chant Group early this year, with regards to the Kg Buah Pala issue, Chief Minister Lim told the court that he was totally unaware of Anwar’s promise to the residents during the campaign period leading to 2008 general election.

Video evidence of Anwar’s promise circulated on the Internet, but Guan Eng had no idea about it!

Even the late Karpal Singh, who was without a doubt the only Opposition leader with integrity, once released a statement admitting that Pakatan had failed to deliver on its promise to the residents of Kg Buah Pala.

As father Lim Kit Siang is ageing, looks like it is son Guan Eng who is suffering from amnesia!