Kampung Buah Pala – Penang DAP’s CAT not a good guard of the house

 |Dec 31, 2016
PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim promised to deliver Kampung Buah Pala to its rightful owners, the villagers, but the DAP-led government failed to deliver that promise.
PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim promised to deliver Kampung Buah Pala to its rightful owners, the villagers, but the DAP-led government failed to deliver that promise.

Lim Guan Eng started off his reign as Penang chief minister by trumpeting a CAT slogan for his government – based on so-called competency, accountability and transparency.

Take a walk in Penang, one would be surprised to find that many Penangites would actually loath at this CAT government now.

But whether their abhorrence against the CAT governance would translate into votes for BN remains to be seen.

Even though they dislike the current state government style of administration, they still could not accept the other side of political divide too for reasons best known to them.

This is the main reason why DAP and company are surviving politically at the moment.

They are surviving more on people sentiments against BN and federal government, more than their own strengths, which they didn’t have much anyway.

People are tolerating the many perceived wrongdoings of the current Penang government simply because they were not fully ready yet to embrace the return of a BN government.

Penang government has many shortfalls, according to the people – hill destruction, rampant sales of state lands, floods, lack of housing for lower income group and surging property prices beyond the reach of many locals.

Some told Malaysia Outlook, the current state government has not built a new road, school or even a drain for lay public, but has always allowed posh housing projects for rich people, a community dominated by DAP’s Chinese backers.

“The DAP government has been good on stage shows in condemning the BN government.

“But it has failed miserably to carry out any worthy project for Penangites for past eight years,” said a voter.

Kampung Buah Pala - Tamil High Chaparral - Penang, was demolished and flattened under the DAP-led state government watch.
Kampung Buah Pala – Tamil High Chaparral – Penang, was demolished and flattened under the DAP-led state government watch.

Kampung Buah Pala revisit

The first major sign of things to come under the DAP-led government was actually set, which many overlooked, during the Kampung Buah Pala fiasco that took place between 2008 and 2009.

The 2.6ha Kampung Buah Pala, located in Gelugor, eastern part of George Town, was once famously known as Tamil High Chaparral among locals due to its cowherds, cattle, goats and Tamil traditional way of life.

It was named Tamil High Chaparral after the popular Western television series ‘High Chaparral’ of 1960s.

The traditional Tamil Hindu community village originally came under a housing trust gazetted under the Housing Trust Act of 1950.

The original owner of the once coconut plantation area, David Brown, had given the land to the villagers’ forefathers, some 200 years ago.

Shortly after the British left, the state government then took over the village in the capacity of `trustee’ and began to collect annual Temporary Occupation Licence (Tol) rents.

The urban village land was alienated  by the previous Gerakan-led BN government to a cooperative society of senior government officers- Koperasi Pegawai-Pegawai Kanan Kerajaan Pulau Pinang – in exchange to a land next to the Dewan Sri Pinang in the city.

The city land had been developed into a lower court house while Kampung Buah Pala had been developed into a posh condominium – the Oasis.

Although the Kampung Buah Pala saga started under the previous BN government, it ended under the current DAP government.

The previous government alienated the land in 2005 for RM3.21 million to the cooperative society, at a sale price estimated at RM11.33 per sq ft.

The cooperative had then paid a deposit premium of RM970,000.

The former Chief Minister Koh Tsu Koon government approved the Oasis project on April 24, 2007.

The balance premium of RM2.24 million was only paid on March 14, 2008 – 11 months later, under the DAP government, a week after Guan Eng had become the chief minister.

The land was transferred by the DAP state government to the cooperative society on March 27, 19 days after the DAP-led coalition had captured the Penang government in the March 8 general election.

During the Kampung Buah Pala fiasco, the DAP government managed to somehow win over public opinion with its massive media spins to escape responsibility and accountability over the issue.

But truth is both the previous and current governments were to be blamed over the fiasco.

Although it was previous BN state government that brokered the deal, it was the current DAP state government that sealed it.

Kampung Buah Pala - Tamil High Chaparral - Penang, was demolished and flattened under the DAP-led state government watch.
Kampung Buah Pala – Tamil High Chaparral – Penang, was demolished and flattened under the DAP-led state government watch.

During the pre-GE12, PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim visited the urban village and promised the villagers that if the opposition managed to form the state government, it would deliver the land to the villagers provided the land title had not been transferred.

However, after its triumph, the DAP-led state government failed to deliver its promise.

Of course the DAP government had claimed that its hands were tied by the law and it could not save the village.

Indeed the late party chairman Karpal Singh claimed that Guan Eng would have ended up in jail if he had stopped the Oasis project.

As much as one would have respected Karpal’s legal point view, this one was far-fetched, unacceptable.

A head of state government to be jailed for stopping a project in public interest?

Sorry never happened before and can never happen.

It proves a long held belief that Karpal had always been a mere politician, serving and protecting the interests of Lim Dynasty.

What ever said and done, the DAP cannot hide the fact that Kampung Buah Pala, an Indian urban heritage in Penang island, was demolished and flattened under its state government watch.

Penang government could have stopped the demolition Kampung Buah Pala with just a stroke of a pen if it had exercised its constitutional power.

Under the national land policy, state governments are given the ultimate decision-making power on land matters in respective states.

But the DAP government simply declined to use its power to save the Indian heritage village.

Even in compensation, the DAP government denied nine eligible families their rightful house-for-house compensation merely because they were most vocal in protesting against demolition Kampung Buah Pala.

These nine families were given houses in mainland by the Barisan Nasional federal government headed by Prime Minister Najib Razak, not as compensation but as an aid on humanitarian ground.

Actually the whole Kampung Buah Pala fiasco has set the tone for things to come under the DAP government, much to the chagrin of the people.

Related links:
Lim Dynasty’s coup de CM to grab power in Penang in GE12
Penang DAP government and its land sales to balance the books
Half-truths, half-lies hallmarks of Penang DAP government

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Athi Shankar has been a journalist for past 30 years. He believes that democratic rights come with responsibility.