Kg Buah Pala…deja vu in Bukit Jalil

by Eyes Wide Open

March 15 2011 was supposed to be the day that 41 families would be forced out of the place they called home for generations.

Ladang Bukit Jalil residents set up a base at the mouth of the road leading to their homes in preparation to battle DBKL eviction officers

Home made banners lined the small road leading to the village

I arrived at 8am to find a crowd had already gathered. MSM, online media and citizen journalists were on hand to witness the event. There were also a number of activists and some concerned citizens present as well.

Although the majority of the crowd were the Indian villagers, the supporters who turned up were multiracial. There is hope yet for Malaysia!

Long-time social activist and Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar was also there early, showing his support.

Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar’s attempt to table an emergency motion in Parliament to discuss the villagers’ plight had been rejected the day before.

Not surprising, since Malaysian Parlimentarians have always been more interested to discuss important issues of national interest such as body parts and functions, racial ancestry and each others’ IQ levels.

Thiakarajan, Committee Secretary was born in Ladang Bukit Jalil. His father worked on the estate right after WW2. The land holds a strong sense of history for the residents.

Some members of the Ex Ladang Bukit Jalil Workers Action Committee were giving interviews. I moseyed on over to listen to an elderly man giving his statements to the online media reps. Turns out he was the Committee Secretary.

As he told the villager’s story, it became apparent that this was he Ladang Bukit Jalil saga is yet another example of how poor Indians are expected to make way without a word when the rich and the powerful decide to come out and play.

 

Human Rights Party (HRP) pro-tem secretary-general P Uthayakumar likened the villagers to "sucked oranges" - having been squeezed of everything, they were now being discarded.

Villagers of all ages turned up to protect their homes.

The saga began in 1980 when the Federal Territory Ministry took over the management of Ladang Bukit Jalil from the Kinrara Estate Group. The residents had hoped that their elected government would take care of them by building proper housing for the workers and their families. But that was not to be.

In 1988, the FT Minister promised the ex-estate workers that they could continue staying in their homes until suitable low-cost housing was built for them. But the houses were never built.

Residents chanting protest slogans

Most of the 1800-acre Ladang Bukit Jalil has been developed into high-value properties such as Bukit Jalil Stadium Complex, Vista Komanwel, Bandar Kinrara, etc. What remains now is 26 acres of prime land, where the last estate workers are staying.

The villagers are seeking 4 acres of land to call their own, where they can build their homes on the land they had been living on for generations. It shouldn’t be such a big problem since in the Draft KL Plan 2020, this land is supposed to have low value as it has been gazetted as a cemetery.

Members of Gabungan Mahasiswa Islam Malaysia (Gamis) turned up to stand with their fellow Malaysians in need

But in a convoluted and one-sided negotiation process, the FT Ministry and DBKL gave the villagers little choice. The compensation offered was a paltry RM23,000 to residents who have worked on the estate for more than 15 years. The rest were offered RM11,000 each. On Feb 23rd, the FT Minister gave them an ultimatum – take the offer or lose everything.

This was a big blow to the villagers who felt shortchanged. In 1992, their neighbours in Ladang Kinrara received a terrace house for each family when the land was developed. Ladang Bukit Jalil villagers only asked to be treated equally.

The future of our children is worth fighting for, isn't it?

But on March 1, an eviction notice was served and March 15 was the date set for the demolition of the villagers’ homes. But they were not prepared to go without a fight.

The residents engaged lawyers who were able to prove that the DBKL’s eviction notice was illegal and tantamount to abuse of power. In a last minute dash to secure relief for the villagers, lawyer Fadiah Fikri was able to convince Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Datin Zabariah Mohd Yusof to grant an injunction against the residents’ eviction at 6pm on Monday (Mar 14) evening.

Lawyer, Fadiah Fikri telling the villagers the good news of the injunction granted by High Court Judge Zabariah Mohd Yusof

Lawyer and PKR Vice President, N Surendran rallying the crowd to not give up the fight for their rights to fair compensation

Judge Zabariah had ordered all parties to appear for a hearing within 21 days, so there was some welcome relief for the villagers. DBKL’s enforcement team would not be able to carry out the eviction and the demolition of the homes before a decision was made after the hearing.

There was loud applause at this little piece of good news. Several village leaders and activists then took turns to address the crowd.

Representative from SUARAM

Representative from GAMIS

As usual, the SB officers were keeping a close eye on things, making notes and taking pictures. But all in all, the morning ended peacefully without incident. DBKL enforcement officers were nowhere in sight and only a few police officers were dispatched to the area. 3 of them could be seen having teh tarik at a nearby warung.

Lawyer Fadiah Fikri holding up a copy of the court injunction. This piece of paper is all that stand between the villagers and homelessness - for now

Tommorow: Kg Buah Pala vs Ladang Bukit Jalil – Stinking Hypocrisy

Comments
One Response to “Kg Buah Pala…deja vu in Bukit Jalil”
  1. jakun says:

    You Malaysians in hartalmsm are doing a great job to portray it as it is for the truth. Maybe you will be truly indepedent for the voice of the voiceless for the truth as oppose to the current mundane & diluted political agenda driven by the alternative media that we observe today. Keep up your good work without fear or favor as long it is the truth.

    When the best leader’s work is done the people say, “We did it ourselves.” Lao Tzu

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