High noon at Penang’s ‘High Chaparral’

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Five more days.

That’s the remaining time the residents of Kampong Buah Pala in Gelugor have, following a Court of Appeal decision on 11 May giving them 30 days to vacate their homes.

The village, known as High Chaparral because of its history of cattle rearing, is at the centre of a controversial land dispute with luxury apartment developers.

The residents had won in the High Court last October, but the developers successfully appealed. The residents, through their lawyers, have now filed an appeal in the Federal Court and applied for a stay of execution.

An agreement to sell the land for around RM11 per square foot was entered into in 2005 under the BN administration at a time when residents claim the value of the land was around RM150 per square feet.

The state administration agreed to sell the 6.5 acre plot to Koperasi Pegawai Kerajaan Negeri Pulau Pinang in exchange for a three quarter-acre plot of land belonging to the Koperasi where the Sessions Court (near Dewan Sri Pinang) now stands, according to the residents. The Koperasi then entered into a joint venture with a private company, Nusmetro Ventures (P) Sdn Bhd, said to be politically connected, to build luxury apartments on the High Chaparral site.

Even before the legal process has been exhausted, even before it has obtained vacant possession of the land, even while cows are still grazing on the land, NusMetro has already started marketing its “Oasis” project:

nusmetro

The Story

Tucked away in Gelugor, hidden from the commotion of the city, lies Penang’s latest residential investment opportunity. Situated within 6.5 acres of beautifully landscaped surroundings, The Oasis is your own personal sanctuary.

With its distinctive architecture and detailed interior design enhanced by superior finishing, The Oasis surpasses the ordinary and redefines architecture and lifestyle.

Whether you’re purchasing the Oasis as a home or as an investment, be prepared to indulge your senses in total luxury.

Redefining architecture.
Redefining lifestyle.
Rebranding your address at The Oasis.

The Pakatan government was dragged into the controversy when residents claimed they saw court exhibits showing that the transfer of land to the Koperasi was effected on 27 March 2008 – three weeks after it had come to power.

Draviam, 84 (see photo above), recalled how top Pakatan politicians had vowed to strongly defend the residents’ right to the land during the 2008 general election campaign.

“The state government shouldn’t just be telling us to continue with the struggle and fight on,” said another resident. “If it is really a people’s government, then it should be taking up the cause on our behalf.”

Among those present at the press conference this afternoon were residents’ rep M Sugumaran, PRM’s Gary Nair, Batu Uban Adun V Raveendran (PKR), Jerit rep Kris Khaira and Bukit Mertajam MP Chong Eng’s husband Guna, who spoke in his personal capacity in support of the preservation of the village.

A representative from the Penang Heritage Trust outlined the heritage value of this Indian Malaysian cultural village, which dates back to the 1950s at the present site and from decades earlier at its original site atop Bukit Gelugor. A few households still continue the traditional source of livelihood – cattle rearing.

The area had 33 houses, but nine households have accepted unknown compensation and moved out, their houses subsequently demolished, according to one resident. The state has stopped collecting the annual TOL licence fee since 2005, he said, paving the way for land alienation.

A unique feature of the High Chaparral village is an underground spring water source (see photo above), which supplied thousands of residents in the area with fresh water when Penang experienced a water supply disruption some years back.

This is the second such controversy here in recent weeks after residents of a village on the premises of St Francis Xavier’s Church along Penang Road were served eviction letters by the Catholic Church’s lawyers.

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kelvin308

My utmost sympathy to a ‘heritage’ village. Well, KSKoon bin Umno (administration) has robbed the land from villagers to such extend with Rm 11/sf land price. That was very wrong, a sin can’t wash off… SHAME! Then, what about new government by PAKATAN? The issue is about Umno robs people land irrespective of rules and law. What Pakatan can’t do something about it and let the BN (culprits) done the job. Pakatan certainly has ways to make the project fail or caused hardship to the developer. That is why the LGE government owed the villagers an explaination as well. I… Read more »

Ong Eu Soon

Why prevented Aliran and Jerit from attending the meeting between the residents and the state government as observer? Is (the Aliran rep) so notoriuos that his mere present can caused the downfall of Penang state government? LGE’s CAT … Any wonder why you feel betrayed? LGE started to behave like Dr M, he want win win situation, that is his state government win, the developer win… but …. get lost Aliran and Jerit! Even during KTK reign, KTK would tried to subtlely aviod direct confrontation with Aliran or any activist associated with Aliran. This is the first time, the state… Read more »

anna brella

Looks to me like GREED rules over there in Penang just as much as it seems to do elsewhere in Malaysia, what with all these very shady disposition of land deals all over the place, like the eyebrow-raising one for the sale of the (PKFZ)land between the PKA and KDSB (at RM25.00psf for RM1.088billion) and earlier between that fishermen’s cooperative and KDSB (RM2.18pfs). This apparent non-vfm land sale agreement – between the state government and the Koperasi Pegawai Kanan Kerajaan Pulau Pinang – also reeks of a conflict of interest IMO, plus an alleged insider dealing job with the developers… Read more »

zozdaniel

Can somebody help to group up the unfortunate squatters in various localities who have been victimised by Developers in Penang?!!!

You could notice that LGE is clearly turning a blind eye to our plight. What nonsense with CAT ??? They know pretty well that they can’t rule Penang for long and getting buddy with the developers in double quick time.

mut

…They would protest even if Pakatan did not win the state election, and BN still hold the state administration! What are they actually asking for here? The state government to review the sale of the land at RM11 per square feet? That is something the current government should look into. Sounds like another scandal. Residential land in Gelugor should be around RM80-90 psf (transacted). I have no idea how they came up with RM150, but I would sure like to read their valuers’ report claiming that. Maybe that would open the door to an investigation and stopping the sale, but… Read more »

mrgelugor

I understand from your article that these residents are not landowners and are paying TOL to the government. They are squatters who had been staying for quite a while on the land with government approval. Since the government or landowner wants back the land, they should shift out and they have no legal rights on the land. The cowshed and cattle are an anomaly in this highly developed area. The residents have to look for alternative farming land elsewhere out of town. But knowing the political opportunities, they are protesting to get high compensation like many squatters do, although they… Read more »

S.Rajan

Nw Pakatan Gov is trying to side with the developers and the elected YB’s Rayer,Karpal,Ravin & Guan Eng r trying to wash their hands off to the extend tat none of them except Ravin attended the PC yday but he was found to be talking nonsence & seems like playing politics to the people there. Pls b reminded tat u still hve to come back to us in d next GE b rest assure tat v d public will not hesitate to kick d Pakatan out. CM Guan Eng u must walk the talk and save this village from the… Read more »

wira

Even though the approval was given days after the formation of the new pakatan government, one must not forget that the senior civil servant cooperative is behind this. Those who enjoy the British comedy series “Yes, Minister” & “Yes, Prime Minister” ought to realise that contrary to popular belief, it’s the civil servant, especially the senior civil service that runs the government than the politicians who institute policies rather than doing the mundane affairs like routine approvals. Moreover, it’s likely that such land affairs within the municipality is approved by the relevant department in MPPP. However, I how the pakatan… Read more »

Andrew

LGE’s DAP/PR government is business friendly. I am not surprised they told the villagers of Kg Pala one thing and then signed away the land to the developer in a surreptitious manner. This is what is now happening in Penang. LGE’s government talks about helping the poor and being people-friendly but in reality, they (appear to be friendly with) the developers. Look at what is happening in Tg Bunga and Batu Ferringhi. The Tg Bungah Residents Association has been appealing for a full stop work order in Chee Seng Gardens against the Bolton/Surin project but LGE does not care. I… Read more »

devil

Koh Tsu Koon and gang are running scared. He is keeping very very quiet. I dont think he will dare go back to Penang….

zozdaniel

The Barisan Government in Penang have certainly neglected the well being of the poor. For that reason, many ordinary Malaysians have made drastic change in March 2008. WAIT, WAIT, can we also look into the action of the current Pakatan Government in reversing the wrongs of the BN Government with regards to the poor families, especially those who are victimised by irresponsible developers!!! In many instances the current Pakatan Government are CLEARLY PRO-DEVELOPERS, any merely paying lip services to complains brought up by the people. The Tanjung Bungah Residents complain on irresponsible hillside devvelopment, NO TANGIBLE ANSWER!!! The Jalan Raja… Read more »

Antares

Greedy developers have ruined the planet, period. If your father happens to be a greedy developer, disown him! When all greedy developers realize they stand to lose their posterity even if they have amassed billions, perhaps this obscene rapacity driven by money-madness will end…

vengai

Bro Anil, We cannot blame the Pakatan DAP state goverment for that reason . Even the resident claims that the transfer took event 0n 27 of march 2008 the pakatan cannot be blamed. As we all know it takes more than a week for Lim Guan Eng to form his state exucutives. Futher more , the out gone UMNO/Gerakan Exco who hold the Portfolio Kerajaan Tempatan esconded with the many important files.Mr LIM did ask him to return it but never success.That Umno goon ask Mr Lim to get its copy on his own and claims that there are copies… Read more »

Dalbinder Singh Gill

Even Pakatan has started to slowly molest Penang before “raping” it. I AM STRONGLY BEHIND THE RESIDENTS OF KAMPUNG BUAH PALA AND THE ST. FRANCIS CHURCH in Penang Road. Whether its a Catholic land or whoevers land, don’t ever dare take the RAKYATS SHELTER AWAY !!!!!

BURY BARISAN NASIONAL COMPLETELY !!

I went to both this villages with you Anil. You may have different opinions but to me, whether they are rich or poor, I AM AGAINST TAKING THEIR SHELTER AWAY AND MOVING THEM ELSEWHERE !!

Amazed

Looks like another land scam if the residents valuations are correct and they probably are because no prime land in Penang island sells for RM 11 psf.

This Koh Tsu Koon is an absolute disgrace. He simply plays dumb and mum on all these land scams that took place under his watch. No accountability whatsoever !!!

Ong Eu Soon

The CM claimed that he has an ear for the poor. Do you sincerely believe that? He care for the poor, and he is out to eradicate poverty. May be by getting rid of the poor villagers and replace with luxury apartments, he can claims that poverty is eradicated from Penang. What a great CM! Vote for LGE…You deserve him…

tuah

Another rape of Penang by the Koh Tsu Koon administration. I think Gerakan had done irreparable damage to Penang.