Indian Cultural and Heritage Festival.
Save the last Indian Heritage Village in Penang.
Come and join us on 3rd August to protect Kampong Buah Pala 200yrs old Heritage Village from been demolished.
Unesco’s intervention was hailed by Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leader P Waythamoorthy as a boost to the villagers’ cause in efforts to stop next week’s demolition by the developer.
K Murugan made an official representation to the world heritage body based in the French capital city of Paris yesterday at 3pm (French time).
He was accompanied by London-based Waythamoorthy, who had arranged the meeting with Unesco.
Waythamoorthy had explained the the Kampung Buah Pala predicament to the heritage official of the Unesco Paris Desk.
Waythamoorthy alleged that the village land was originally held on a housing trust but was later taken over by the federal government and transferred to the Penang government under dubious circumstances.
He further alleged that the previous Penang state government had unlawfully alienated and sold the land held on trust to a cooperative society – Koperasi Pegawai Pegawai Kanan Kerajaan Pulau Pinang.
Junhi Han was also told that the cooperative subsequently engaged a private developer Nusmetro Venture (P) Sdn Bhd to build a lucrative condominium project called Oasis on the trust land.
Waythamoorthy (left) told her that the current DAP government was responsible for the actual transfer of the trust land to the cooperative within 19 days after coming to power.
Waythamoorthy told her that during last year’s general election campaign, the DAP leaders had promised the residents to secure and preserve the trust land as a heritage village.
However, he alleged, that after coming to power, the DAP state government had failed to fulfil its promise and betrayed the people’s trust.
Unesco appeals to gov’t
Junhi Han told Waythamoorthy and Murugan that she would immediately inform the Malaysian officials at Unesco to look into the controversy urgently.
Earlier Murugan (left), the 46-year-old cowherd from Kampung Buah Pala, arrived in France on Wednesday morning via London to hand over a memo.
The memo urged Unesco to urgently make a representation to the Malaysian government to stop the village demolition.
It also urged Unesco to send a fact finding team to Kampung Buah Pala to gather first hand information independently to justify the residents’ heritage claim over the village.
At the end of the 40-minute meeting, Junhi Han said the matter would be presented to the world heritage committee after receiving a response from the Malaysian government.
The committee, she assured, would then seriously consider the need to commission a Unesco fact finding mission to the village.
Murugan’s representation to take his village fight for survival to Unesco is seen as a move to exert international pressure on relevant authorities in Penang, especially Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to preserve the traditional Indian village.
Murugan’s representation would deal a severe blow to the DAP government as it could compromise the status of George Town as living human heritage city, an accolade it shares with Malacca.
Waythamoorthy informed Junhi Han that Kampung Buah Pala sits exactly on the city limit of George Town, which received its international heritage recognition in July 2008.
Kampung Buah Pala faces the possibility of total destruction on Aug 3, after an eviction order was issued on July 2.
Lim’s government has already revoked the development plan a few days ago apparently to stop the eviction and compel the developer to agree with its plan to settle the issue amicably.
Kampung Buah Pala is referred to by locals as Tamil High Chaparral because of its hilly location, greenery, population of cowherds, cattle, goats, other livestock, and lively Tamil cultural features and festivities
The move, it is hoped, will exert international pressure on relevant authorities in Penang, especially Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to preserve the traditional Indian village.
Murugan’s representation, it is beleived, would deal a severe blow to the embattled DAP-dominated Penang government as it could jeopardise the status of George Town as living human heritage city, an accolade it shares with Malacca.
Murugan however, denied that the villagers were compromising George Town status just to preserve Kampung Buah Pala as a heritage village.
“We have no intention to damage George Town’s world heritage city status. But we want the state government to know that it failed to do enough to preserve our village as a state heritage.Many Penangites failed to realise that Kampung Buah Pala is actually located in George Town,” he told Malaysiakini from London.
The villagers hope that Murugan’s mission to France will turn the world’s attention to the 6.5 acres of village land in Bukit Gelugor, Penang.
As the state administration works overtime to explore ways and means to resolve the crisis, Kampung Buah Pala faces the possibility of total destruction on Aug 3, courtesy of an eviction order issued on July 2.
The village has to make way for a lucrative project, the Oasis, developed by Nusmetro Venture (P) Sdn Bhd.
Revocation order not enough
But Lim’s government has already revoked the development plan a few days ago, apparently to stop the eviction and compel the developer to agree with its plan to settle the issue amicably.
However, not only the villagers, many civil societies, including Hindraf, Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (Jerit) and Suaram, have demanded that the state acquire the land and declare the village as a an Indian traditional land.
As Kampung Buah Pala faces eviction and demolition next Monday, civil societies have warned the state government that Penang would lose a 200-year-old historical, living human culture and heritage village in George Town.
Thus, it’s understandable that the villagers have taken their fight for survival to the international level.
Waythamoorthy has apparently arranged the Unesco meeting for tomorrow through the help of British parliamentarians.
He believes Lim lacked the political will to resolve the villager’s predicament and preserve the Indian traditional village.
“Lim should stop playing politics with the life and livelihood of the villagers,” he said.
He accused Lim of giving a false impression that ‘all was well’ by revoking the developing order.
He argued that the revocation order was merely an eye wash that would not end the plight of the villagers and it would not deter the developer from demolishing and flattening the village.
“All Lim has to do is just to acquire the land under the relevant laws and return the village to the residents, who are the legitimate rightful owners,” said Waythamoorthy.
He pointed out that it was Lim who transferred the land to the cooperative society despite the fact that the villagers had already made representations to him earlier.
“Lim’s owes a political responsibility to acquire and return the village to the people,” he said.
The land was transferred to Koperasi Pegawai Pegawai Kanan Kerajaan Pulau Pinang on March 27, 19 days after the DAP-dominated Pakatan Rakyat took over the Penang government on March 8.
“If the village were to be flattened, the DAP and its Pakatan Rakyat allies would face a severe backlash from the Indian community,” warned the Hindraf leader.
CM: Don’t blame us, its BN’s mistake
Chief Minister Lim had previously explained that his state government’s hands were tied as a result of a Federal Court ruling on the matter.
The Federal Court had ruled that the land belonged to the Penang Government Officers Cooperative and developer Nusmetro Ventures (P) Sdn Bhd and that the villagers had to vacate it.
Lim had also said that it would be too costly for his government to acquire the land from the cooperative and the developer.
“What can the state government do? Like the Kampung Buah Pala villagers, the state government is also a victim in the case because it was not us who started the issue. Therefore, do not blame the state government,” he said.
He had also declassified files relating to the land sale and pointed fingers at the previous Barisan Nasional government of robbing “the residents of their land without consulting them”.
“The chronology of events prove beyond a shadow of doubt that Koh Tsu Koon and his Umno, MCA, MIC and Gerakan cohorts had robbed Kampung Buah Pala residents of their land without consulting them,” Lim said in a July 9 statement.
“So far Koh Tsu Koon has not explained why he approved this project without consulting the residents or selling it to Koperasi at such a low price,” he added.
“Why is this aggression targeted against the Pakatan government that is trying to help them? In contrast, not a single demonstration or action is taken against the BN land robbers who deprived them of their rights,” he said.
He also said that “a group of opportunists” who were not aware of the full picture had worsened the situation.
Statement (No.2 ) by P.Uthayakumar to the Government of Malaysia for which we expect a reply:
K Pragalath | Jul 24, 09 4:23pm (Malaysiakini)
His wife, Indra Devi, was also anxious about the prospect of having to lose him again, especially after Uthayakumar had just been released from ISA in April after spending 514 days in detention.
However, it turned out to be a false alarm.
The policemen were there to serve him with a notice that the authorities have cancelled the restrictions imposed on him under Section 10 of the ISA.
Uthayakumar received the letter but refused to sign the document.
‘This was totally unnecessary’
Speaking to Malaysiakini later, the 48-year-old lawyer questioned the manner in which the police had served him the notice.
“This was totally unnecessary. Why must they come to my house, instead of the office? Their action only caused alarm to my family. My father-in-law is a diabetic patient and I have two teenage daughters.
“They have people watching me. They have been monitoring my phone calls and that of my family,” said the vexed activist.
Although expressing concern as to whether he would be allowed to board the flight, Malaysiakini later learnt that he had passed through Immigration and is en route to London.
Uthayakumar would be undergoing treatment for a heart muscle disorder during his week-long trip.
He is also expected to meet his younger brother and Hindraf chairperson Waytha Moorthy, who is in self-exile in London.
The latter had left the country shortly before Uthayakumar and four other Hindraf leaders were arrested under the ISA in December 2007, weeks after they had staged a mammoth street protest in Kuala Lumpur.
By Baradan Kuppusamy
KLANG, July 19 — P. Uthayakumar today launched his Human Rights Party Malaysia (HRP) before 3,000 cheering hardcore supporters by lambasting Umno for sidelining Indians for 52 years, while also training his guns on Pakatan Rakyat (PR) for winning on Indian votes but failing to help the community.
He said the cavalier attitude of Umno and PR towards Indians was because the community lacked political clout, and he is now offering a unique scheme where marginalised Indians could create this clout as well as pressure for public resources to uplift the community.
Under the scheme, Indians in certain states should re-register as voters in select constituencies where there are about 20 to 30 per cent Indian votes, he said.
“By doing this they would create Indian majority parliamentary and state seats in the country and can, if united, win the seats easily,” he said.
“We will use the clout created by controlling these seats to bargain for the community,” Uthayakumar said.
“We will no longer be political beggars,” he said to a standing ovation from supporters, who arrived from across the country, many of whom wore Hindraf’s saffron-coloured T-shirts. Uthayakumar, who wore a similar T-shirt with his fiancée, was mobbed by his supporters.
Uthayakumar, who is secretary general of the party, announced the names of state leaders at the function and vowed to fight on until the “last drop of my blood.”
“I will not betray you, I will not sell you for some crumbs and I will never give up the struggle,” he said to huge applause.
Elaborating on his scheme, he said DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang and party secretary general Lim Guan Eng were classic examples of politicians who have “migrated” from their hometowns to fight and win and hold office in other states.
“We should be like them. We must create Indian power centres in all states, re-register ourselves in those constituencies and elect our own representatives to parliament,” he said.
“Only in that way can we create clout,” he said, adding that currently Indians were members in numerous political parties. “Our votes are split and we are dismissed as non-entities.”
He said the new party can win 15 parliamentary and 38 states seats if this scheme was implemented successfully.
“This is what we are going to do for the next two years …to get Indians to re-register in selected constituencies to create Indian community power centres,” Uthayakumar said.
Among the areas he identified are Padang Serai in Kedah; Ipoh Barat, Sungei Siput and Bagan Datuk constituencies in Perak and Ulu Selangor; along with Kota Raja and Klang in Selangor.
Uthayakumar spoke for nearly two hours, listing out all the grievances the Indian community suffers from – poverty, neglect, and marginalisation – and laid the blame at the feet of Umno.
“It is Umno that rules the country, it is Umno that decides who gets what and how much, not Barisan Nasional (BN),” he said. “Umno is the enemy but it is a very smart enemy and we have to watch out for it.”
Also present were DAP Teluk Kemang MP M. Manoharan, human rights lawyer N. Surendran and PR supporter David Balla who is the key financier of the new party.
Manoharan said he was there as counsel for Uthayakumar and added he takes the criticism of PR in his stride.
He urged party supporters to beware of Umno, which will work with the Special Branch to sow disorder, confusion and splits within the party.
Uthayakumar also lambasted the DAP for failing to resolve the woes of the villagers of Kampung Buah Pala in Penang.
About 30 Buah Pala residents were also in the audience cheering him on.
“Guan Eng can, with one just signature, settle the Buah Pala issue but he has refused to do so giving all kinds of excuses,” Uthayakumar said. “The reason is we are politically weak.”
He cited as example the sole DAP representative who could bring the PAS-led Kedah PR government to its knees by pulling out of the coalition over an abattoir to slaughter pigs.
“Just one man can do that…imagine 15 or 20 MPs (of our party) walking out. How much we can achieve,” he said.
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He announced that he was giving up practising law and would fully concentrate on being a political activist and to lay the groundwork for the next general election.
He added that the outlawed Hindraf movement would continue to be apolitical and be led by his younger brother Waythamoorthy, who is still in self-exile in London.
Uthayakumar said HRP would function as a pro tem organisation pending approval from the Registrar of Societies (ROS) to its application made on June 18.
Speaking to reporters after the launch of the party at the Hokkien Hall here, Uthayakumar, who will be the party secretary-general, said HRP’s top echelon would be announced later.
He also identified 15 parliamentary and 38 state seats that the party would contest in the election.
He suggested that Indians in these constituencies register as voters to create Indian-majority areas and “to bargain for the marginalised.”
The former Internal Security Act (ISA) detainee also launched his book, Malaysian Indian Political Empowerment Strategy: The Way Forward, which was conceptualised and written during his 514 days in detention in Kamunting.
Meanwhile, Malaysia Makkal Sakthi Party secretary-general Kannan Ramasamy offered Uthayakumar to take over the party instead of waiting for ROS approval for HRP.
He said the party’s top leaders are willing to relinquish their posts for the “Hindraf Five”, namely Uthayakumar, M. Manoharan, V. Ganabathirau, R. Kengadharan and K. Vasantha-kumar, all of whom were just released from ISA detention.
In Seremban, MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said Indians would eventually lose out if they chose to be represented by several political parties.