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High Chaparral: Supporters gather but coop firm on demolition

Contributed by Anonymous on Sunday, August 02 @ 23:26:09 CDT

National: Politics
by Opalyn Mok, the

GEORGE TOWN (Aug 02, 2009): On the eve of a scheduled demolition of Kampung Buah Pala, the villagers hosted a cultural festival featuring a bullfight.

A few thousand people gathered in the village, also known as High Chaparral, to perform prayers, traditional ceremonies, music and dance, and watch contests like greased pole-climbing.

The villagers had met Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng on Saturday and agreed to consider moving to a site adjacent to their village as an intact heritage community, pending a detailed proposal from the developer.

Kampung Buah Pala Residents Association chairman M. Sugumaran said: "Thousands of supporters are expected to be gathered here tomorrow (Monday) to stop the developer (Nusmetro Ventures (P) Sdn Bhd) from demolishing the village. The supporters will stay here for a week.

"All of us have taken leave from work and we will all remain in the village for the whole week to stop the developers from moving in to demolish our village."

On the day-long cultural festival, Sugumaran said it was aimed at raising awareness and showcasing the traditional Indian culture that "is still very alive in the century-old village".

The High Chaparral bullfight.. Villagers of Kampung Buah Pala
celebrate a cultural festival on the day of thier eviction dead line
today. A few thousand people gathered at the village to
participate in prayer, traditional ceremonies, musisc and dance
and watch games like a greased pole climbing contest.
"July 17 to Aug 17 is also a religious month for Hindus with various religious events to be held in temples. That's why we organised this festival during this holy period so that we can also conduct prayers," he said.

On the villagers' meeting withLim, he said: "The chief minister has promised to let us share the 2.6ha plot with the developer. Now, the state government is discussing this with the developer. So, even if tomorrow is the deadline for us to move out, we will stay put."

Lim had said the state government would revoke the development order for the project if Nusmetro Ventures went ahead with its threat to bulldoze the village today.

Nusmetro Ventures had won a court order to obtain vacant possession of the land without needing to pay the villagers any compensation.

To date, they have said they would not give the villagers any more compensation and have threatened to sue the state government for RM105 million if the state government revoked the development order.

The Penang Government Officers Cooperative, the owner of the land, remains firm in its decision to demolish the houses tomorrow.

Bernama quoted  cooperative chairman Abdul Razak Mansor as saying Nusmetro Ventures had been instructed to to obey the Federal Court decision granting ownership of the land to the cooperative.

"We are not cruel, but our decision to demolish the village still stands because the court has decided the land is ours," he said.

Abdul Razak said any talks regarding relocating residents within the area as suggested by Lim would only be done after the houses were demolished.

"The cooperative will not entertain any requests from the state government to negotiate the matter until the houses are torn down," he said.

"Discussions on whether residents can stay in part of the land will also be carried out once the area is vacated."

The Star
Monday August 3, 2009 Kg Buah Pala folk getting prepared for any eventuality By WINNIE YEOH
GEORGE TOWN: Kampung Buah Pala villagers have taken a week off from work to keep watch over their village which is slated for demolition today. The village residents’ association chairman, M. Sugumaran, believes thousands of non-governmental organisation (NGO) members would also turn up to show their support for the villagers. “We don’t know whether the developer — Nusmetro Ventures (P) Sdn Bhd — will come to tear down our houses but we are prepared for any eventuality,” he said. Sugumaran was speaking to reporters during a heritage celebration at the village yesterday to create public awareness on Indian culture. He said the celebration was held now as August was an auspicious month for Hindus. He said negotiations on the future of the village was still ongoing between the state government and developer. “Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has promised to keep us here but we don’t know how is he going to do that,” he added. Residents’ association assistant secretary C. Thamaraj, who said the government had made verbal promises to preserve the village, added: “We hope at least half of the village will be spared from demolition.” “If Lim can save the village, he’s a hero, otherwise, he’s a zero,” he said, adding that he had asked the state government to come up with a concrete plan. He insisted that the state could invoke Section 116 of the National Land Code to prevent the demolition of the village. “All of us are prepared to face whatever comes tomorrow (today) but we still believe something good will happen. We’re suffering each day.” He expressed hope that the developer would not move in today as negotiations were still ongoing. It was reported yesterday that the residents had agreed to a state government’s proposal to share the 2.6ha plot with the developer. Lim had said the state government would revoke the development approval for the apartment project if the developer went ahead and demolished the houses today. He also said he would try to meet with the developer to convey what was agreed upon at the meeting. When contacted, Nusmetro director Gary Ho refused to comment on whether the demolition would take place today.



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