Buah Pala villagers grapple with harsh reality

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It was never meant to be this way. Valli Perumal’s father bought a house in this village when he retired in 1965 after the previous owner returned to India.

“Have you heard anything about our houses?” asks a despairing Valli Perumal – Photo by Anil

Perumal had worked with the city council and thought that the tranquil village provided an idyllic setting for his family.

His daughter, Valli, was fifteen then, and she grew up in the village, where her family reared goats for a living.

Now 59, she lost her cancer-stricken husband a couple of years ago.  She lives with her two daughters – one of them works in an electronics factory, the other in a hotel – alongside her sister, who owns the house, and their extended family.

Looking at me with faint glimmer of hope, she asked,  “Have you heard anything about our houses?”

But her misty eyes betrayed her despair and the deep sadness; the black rings hinted of sleepless nights.

I asked her how she felt – which immediately struck me as a dumb question. I didn’t know what else to say. All the usual questions that journalists normally ask seem redundant. How do you talk to someone whose house is being demolished?

She was at a loss for words.  But no words were needed. Her face said it all.

Electricity had been cut off in her home and its seven occupants are spending the night in darkness.

I asked her if the demolition crew had wrecked her home and she nodded. So how were they using the house?

“Oh, they tore down a section of the wall, but we are still using the rest of the house.”

A friend of mine said he had spoken to another villager, who told him: “All my children are sleeping outside. I have nowhere else to take them.

“I am not greedy if I did not take the compensation because all I wanted was my family home which is here. It is sentimental to my family.”

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JLSu

The great DSAI who was so visibly silent and missing during the KBP saga has surfaced to lobby for the Tanjong Tokong Malay village. Who is the person the PM was referring to as having sworn upon an elderly man’s head that he will not allow KBP to be demolished? There is no need to say much… it’s all very clear to see!

Ray

Brown family owned the original land, they give to a trust for their worker’s benefit; The villager once has title, the land owned by a trust. The land owner is the Trust; it is protected by the Trust Deed or law…. The legal system changed due to independence.Then the title was transfer to the state, the state is title owner. No body noticed; Villagers paid TOL(no more title, now they are only temporary staying there), no more beneficiary of the trust; The state sold the land, title ownership transfer again New owner named in the title, it is protected under… Read more »

daniel

Some people here do not even know meaning of land titles (HAKMILIK TANAH). If you do not have a land title, you are staying in a piece of land that do not belong to you. You do not need to pay CUKAI TANAH (quit rents) and CUKAI PINTU (Assessment). Squatters just staying and enjoying for free usage of some other lands or government lands. The squatters SHOULD know their future. Apply for land before to be chased away. Or buy a house which is his/her ownership. I have seen some people are so smart that they actually pretend to be… Read more »

daniel

Money, money and money! Who do not love money? Me too! I am sad that our society always shortage of money. Donation appeals from direct mails, direct phone calls, advertising pledges all are showing desperation for money. Schools need donations, colleges need donations, orphanage homes need donations etc. Too bad, we are living in a poor nation. Our government always cannot provide such needs but still can afford many luxury projects. This KBP is a real diversion of people attentions. As long as this issue being brought up again and again, we will be continuously being short sighted on the… Read more »

Ray

It is all political games by politician. The villages have been misled into the trap. Where are all the hu and ha during the peak days, where are they now? Where are all the MIC members? their fund they promised to buy the land, can still use to help the villagers. Where are you, the NGO when the land was transferred from the trust? I am sad that the villagers are misled to empty hope by this politician with their ultimate motives(you know their motive now). I am glad that the issue is now come to an end. But remind… Read more »

DK

Hei’ Wong,
It it obvious who you are representing. Anything that suits your pupet masters. A famous swamiji said if you offer a kid an icecream in one and $100 in another hand it will take the icecream as it was obvious what KBP residents wanted. The weakness and ignorant of mind is construed as greed only in the minds of people like you and your pupet masters who are drivin by their greed for power and glory.

vj

If PKR saves the Tanjong Tokong Village, its not fair for Kg Buah Pala people. Now PKR is trapped.

wira

Dear Equaliser,

Perhaps you can now understand why the former PR government in Perak worked so feverishly to offer affected kampung folks and villagers freehold lands on their TOL before some greedy vultures alienate them to developers.

Once the state no long owns the land, there is nothing much the state can do because she cannot take back the land without adequate (meaning pay market price) compensation. Kampung Buah Pala existed on TOLs which the previous state government rescinded without consultation with the villagers. This is the mother of all problems with Kampung Buah Pala.

Equaliser

If the reasons given for KBP to be demolished were valid, then most of the Chinese new villlages and Malay kampungs in the country can also be demolished on the same grounds. Can any of these people show the receipts for the payment they made to buy those lands? Most of Malay kampung lands were given by the Sultans or the state govts for certain reasons. The colonial govt gave land to most of the Chinese new villages to keep them away from communist influences. Similarly KBP folks were given land by British land owners. But today they were accused… Read more »

mak jun yeen

All these fuss over Kg Buah Pala. Granted that the villagers have been rode roughshod by the former powers that be that for 50 years did not see it fit to convert the villagers TOL for alinenated grants. The fact is the villagers have no legal claim to the lands with the laws the British gave us. The British granted TOL precisely for political reasons (that is the villagers were licensed temporary by the state to stay there), the Brits left it to post independence leaders to sort out the problem of whether to grant those land to the licensees.… Read more »

Yang

K,
I think it does matter you go or not. You are not indispensable. Neither are the 24 families who have been given a good offer. What matter is the benefit for the people and state of Penang as a whole.

LimBC

K,
You don’t have to tell the whole world what you are going to do. … Nobody really cares. This is the filtering process that PR is going thru. bye bye

wira

The issue is too much politicised by the partisan village chiefs who were either misled by Hindraf, MIC or even their lawyers. The hard core poor who wants a roof over his head would, according to reports, get one. What is there to protest anymore? How many developers and state government officials would negotiate to give such good compensations to squatters? They may argue and complain about the loss of their suddenly found “heritage” or the trust given by Helen Brown but as long as they do not have the legal papers to prove so, theirs will become another sob… Read more »

Fatimah Zuhri

Wow… some of the comments in here really make me sad and angry.

Blame the residents…blame the residents..

Do you guys think that being a “part time apologist” for DAP will make the majority of RAKYAT Penang like DAP?

I can assure you guys that in the next GE the situation will be turn 180 degree!

Kumaran

Apparently the villagers have been brainwashed to reject the double storey house and demand for cash by Hindraf cadres for the following reasons: 1. Rejecting double storey house will mean they will continue to stay there and when bulldozers flatten their homes it will create a perfect situation for sympathy (which at the moment has turned against the villagers for their greed and arrogance) –> and this will result in more support for BN (since Hindraf apparently has met Najib a few times now and seems to be having a good working relationship) 2. Accepting the money means, Hindraf (could)… Read more »

sally

Sad but KBP folks like uncle Draviam should move on for the sake of their families. Take the offer of RM125K and move on to build a better foundation for your youngsters.Use the money wisely to equip them with good education to face a challenging future.
By the way, the offer is much better than the paltry sum of RM30-40K dished out to former residents of West Jelutong some 4-5 years back.

sarah

Oh Lilian, don’t need to explain honey. The number of twists and turns, half truths and spins involved in this issue just boggles the mind.
Continue on with your CJ – doing a great job.
Cheers!

lilian

Quoted from Malaysiakini, Athi’s article : Meanwhile George Town OCPD Azam Abd Hamid said that no more grace period will be given to the residents as “they have been granted three-months to move out”. He said all the affected residents will have to move out to the alternate homes provided by the developer – these temporary homes were built by Syarikat Perumahan Negara Berhad (SPNB). -unquote- I am only relaying what I heard personally and being told to me. The same news is reported by NST and The Star too. However, some villagers resolved to continue living in the rubbles… Read more »

Wong Ka Wai

Kepada K,

sudahlah dengan khayalan kamu. Mengaku sendiri sebagai ahli DAP. Ahli DAP tidak mencaci nama parti sendiri dan tidak menghina nama ketua menteri.

Propaganda memburukkan DAP sudah tidak berguna. Semua orang sudah tahu cerita ini.

Kamu ingat kami kanak-kanak yang boleh ditipu. Saya rasa K ini … member daripada parti kerajaan negeri yang lepas.

no begger

let the drama ends here.
is the story of the anjing and the tulang.
we all know the ending.
nothing more to say.

Jebat musibat

It’s still not a good time for any PR related person to be there. Most of them was useless to talk with. No go. The begging and crying for an imposible things to do. It’s not about PR gov and LGE washing hand. It’s KTK should be the first one to judge and drag to the court and all of this can be postpone again anad again. But the ‘Federal Court’ is always a hope killer. again, i wonder if they still wanna vote for BN for next PRU13? And to they now was hate current govt just because they… Read more »

johan09

Known devils create the image that Kg. Buah Pala has just been hit by earthquake,tsunami and facing a disaster-like situation!
Unknown angels just could not reach these “victims” even with ready aid and assistance !
Penangites have “angelic” eyes and ears that can “see” and “hear” evil in their environment !

I LUV PENANG – LUV FROM KUANTAN PAHANG

K

Lilian I dont think your views will be taken seriously after your disgraceful …”interview” with LGE. You might as well post your comments on LGE’s personal blog… Please don’t spread more … misinformation about the “generosity” of LGE govt. A humane govt would have inteferred in the demolition by being present during the incident yesterday instead of hiding away like a coward at Komtar and issuing press statements. LGE has plenty of time to travel to Singapore to give speeches like some veteran stateman but has no time to visit KBP. A responsible govt would have prevented the police from… Read more »

True Fact

Dheepan is right. Anil Netto is misleading the villagers into the darkness. He is twisting the issue beside the real fact. Setinggan di KL cuma dapat rumah flat sahaja dan perlu membayar sewa bulanan. Why should you all KBH setinggan to be sympathy? You should be greatfull with “FREE” double storey house although you are setinggan.

Beli tanah/rumah kat KBP ada gran ka? You have no ground to talk about right/human right on that particular land.

Dheepan

Well said Kang wai.

I don’t want to say this but other than those activists, lawyers and others, journalists like you Anil Netto are partly to blame for misguiding these villagers.

They are in fact villagers who don’t know what to do and easily influenced.

They should move on. Publishing stories like these is pointless. I have sub-zero sympathy for them even if they sleep on the road.