Against the odds: Tense scenes as Kg Buah Pala villagers defend their homes from demolition – Photos by C Khor
For a brief backgrounder of the scandal in theSun:
1503: The bailiff has decided to defer the demolition until the end of August after holding a meeting with OCPD Azam, a village rep and Thanenthiran, according to a contact at the scene. The decision is believed to have been made on humanitarian grounds and to prevent any untoward incident. It’s another reprieve for the beleaguered villagers of Kg Buah Pala who must be heaving a sigh of relief. Sanity has prevailed – at least for today.
1436:A couple of village reps, along with Thanenthiran, are negotiating with the developer to call off the demolition, according to one villager. The OCPD is also at the scene.
Some 100 villagers are still forming a human barricade at the foothill.
1408: R S Thanenthiran of the Malaysian Makkal Sakthi Party has entered the scene. He spends several minutes in the police mobile base and then emerges to give a press conference.
The stand-off continues as many more people arrive.
1324: The Koperasi’s blog says it does not agree to the proposal for the two-storey houses offered as compensation to be built on its land. The cooperative is expected to hold an EGM soon to discuss this and related issues. The action by the developer (Nusmetro) today may be seen in that light – to show it is doing something to fulfil its part of the joint-venture agreement ahead of the Koperasi’s EGM.
1312: The court bailiff stands on one of the bulldozers to address the crowd. But the shouting of the crowd drowns out whatever he has to say.
The bulldozers, facing the crowd, rev up their engines, but the villagers roar, “Tutup enjin! Tutup enjin!” A standoff ensues.
1241: The villagers’ lawyer, Darshan Singh, arrives, clutching some documents. He wants to meet the court bailiff, who is holed up with the developer in the village house they are using as a base. But police are blocking Darshan’s way, amidst shouts and chants from the crowd.
The OCPD has arrived and is now believed to be inside the mobile police base a short distance away.
1215: The stand-off between the villagers and the demolition team at the foothill continues.
The deadlines for the three houses were given more than half an hour ago. Police are taking up positions outside the three houses.
1207: It looks as if three houses have been targeted for demolition today. A 30-minute deadline has been given.
1202: About 200 villagers have gathered outside the house which the developer is using. Some of them have brought cow dung. Police are guarding the house.
1149: The developer appears to be using the house across the road from the open-air enclosure for cows as a base. A couple of villagers are also believed to be inside the house.
The developer walks to the house next to it and another house after that to talk to the occupants, but the villagers are resisting.
1132: Villagers are scrambling to the foothill as contractors emerge. A standoff ensues.
Meanwhile, more panic as villagers believe that contractors are coming from the top of the slope. The police inform an activist that they are not contractors but the court bailiff among others.
Two or three women are believed to have fainted. They are stretchered away through the barricades as the ambulance is not allowed in. The villagers ask why police cars are allowed in but not the ambulance, according to a source at the scene.
Villagers are trying to contact several DAP and PKR reps in the state government, but no one seems to be picking up their phones.
1058: One woman in her fifties has fainted and is now lying on a table. The older folks in the village look tired and weary. Another woman, Mahadevi, 51, who had just undergone a spinal operation recently, has been shoved.
The developer, lawyers and others are in one of the houses. TNB personnel are also believed to be at the scene.
1046: Some of the villagers say that the bailiff has given them 15 minutes to leave, according to one source. A lot of shouting going on.
Another source reports the same thing, adding that the villagers are chanting, “Hidup Kampung Buah Pala! Samseng keluar!”
1029: A court bailiff sticks a demolition order on one of the houses.
A commotion breaks out as village reps point out any action today would be in contempt of court as the Federal Court is due to hear their application for revision on 18 August.
The developer’s contractors are still around. Some reporters re-enter the village.
1008: The demolition team march into the village followed by the two bulldozers. A crowd of chanting villagers goes up close and eyeballs them. A police barricade separates the two sides. About a hundred Light Strike Force personnel are at the scene.
1003: The demolition team are moving in: about 200 people and two tractors or bulldozers.
0935: The situation appears tense in the village. Two bulldozers are believed to be around. Police continue to order out reporters and photographers, says an eye-witness at the scene. He believes some of the residents have confronted the demolition team at the Shell station and they may have dispersed (unable to verify that though). The entire area has now been blocked. As raindrops fall, it seems as if the heavens are weeping.
0929: People are milling around the second barricade. “Everyone seems to be just waiting,” reports a citizen journalist. One village family – husband, pregnant wife and two children – has left the scene. Lots of police personnel around. A tractor or bulldozer is inside the village, according to two different sources.
0920: About 200 police personnel, including riot police are now in the village. “They are coming,” one villager tells me, sounding upset. He said one of the villagers had spotted another group of men, believed to be the developers’ people, gathering at the Shell station along the main road.
A citizen journalist tries to enter the village but is unable to get past the second barricade.
0853: The police have asked reporters and photographers inside the village to move outside the road blocks that have been set up at the entrance to the village. About 50 villagers have gathered inside and some 50 police personnel are also present, according to an eye-witness.
0750: Police on motorbikes have been seen checking out Kg Buah Pala. The residents have been on tenterhooks since last night amidst speculation that something could happen today.