Monday, February 15, 2010

Settlement in Perak : 12 years to build, 3 hours to demolish just 48 hours after UMNO 'officially' gains control

Barely 48 hours after the Federal Court had affirmed Zambry Abd Kadir as Perak menteri besar on Feb 9, a demolition team from the Land Office of Larut Matang and Selama descended on a 15-hectare plot farmed by squatters in the Air Kuning area, on the southern rim of Taiping.

Air Kuning falls under Changkat Jering which is one of three state wards in the parliamentary constituency of Bukit Gantang, presently held by deposed Menteri Besar Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin of PAS.

NONEThe state seat was won by Mohd Osman Jailu, formerly of PKR but from February last year, a BN-supporting independent.

Armed with hammers, axes and chainsaws, the demolition squad took three hours to level two wooden shacks that served as dwelling places for workers and employers of a 10-person cooperative who had developed the former mining land the past 12 years.

They cleared undergrowth and shrubs, cultivated vegetable plots, reared fish in ponds, raised cows, goats and poultry, and cultivated fruit trees.

NONEBut within a matter of three hours on the morning of Feb 11, two days after the apex court's decision affirming Zambry as menteri besar, a demolition squad arrived at the plot which is located behind the Taman Kuning Sari housing estate.

The demolition squad, from the Land Office of Larut Matang and Selama, were backed up by the Federal Reserve Unit, police from the Taiping contingent of the force, JKR Taiping, and tractors from Gamuda, the developers of the double-tracking system connecting Ipoh with the north.

NONE“They came like they were out to arrest hardcore criminals,” said Mohd Salleh Ariffin (left), head of a band of 'peneroka bandar' who were developing the plot, and who was arrested and handcuffed for alleged obstruction.
'Peneroka bandar' is term of legal coinage that arose in the mid-1980s out of court battles waged by urban squatters who had developed land belonging to the state or federal government before they were evicted to make way for residential or commercial developments.

The legal coinage came into use primarily because of Parti Sosialis Rakyat Malaysia's (PSRM) and later, Parti Sosialis Malaysia's, (PSM) exertions on behalf of evicted or threatened-with-eviction urban squatters.

'We developed the unoccupied land'

In an chat with Malaysiakini after he was released, Salleh said the losses suffered by his group of 'peneroka bandar' were estimated at RM500,000.

“We developed the unoccupied land in response to the government's call for us to cultivate such land for agriculture and animal farming,” he said.

NONE“We then applied to the Land Office in Larut Matang and Selama for a title to the land but after numerous letters were written, even up to the Prime Minister's Department, there was no response,” he said.

“Now without as much as a chat with us, they came and destroyed all that we had built up,” he lamented.

“Even the fruit trees they chopped down. Is this the way the slogan, 'People first, performance now' is supposed to mean for us?” he sighed.

news courtesy of Malaysiakini

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