GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government is prepared to cancel Nusmetro Ventures (P) Sdn Bhd’s project in Kampung Buah Pala if the developer fails to compensate the residents.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said Friday that the state was willing to face financial losses over the cancellation and the developer took action.
“I want to warn the developer not to test the state government’s patience because we will not back out just like that,” he told reporters.
Lim warned the developer not to issue threats of moving in to take possession of the houses.
Nusmetro Ventures executive director Thomas Chan was reported saying that the company has a writ of possession and that it would execute it.
Lim also warned the developer not to act in a high-handed manner thinking that it could escape paying compensation just because it had obtained a court order.
He said he had no problem meeting the residents but added that this would give an impression that both his deputies Dr P. Ramasamy and Mansor Othman, who had been assigned to handle the matter, were not capable of doing their job.
“The former state government and BN had created this mess and Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon (former chief minister) should address the matter in the Cabinet on Wednesday as the present state government is not financially capable.”
Lim pointed out that the state could not buy back the land at the RM3.2mil price made by the Koperasi Pegawai Kerajaan Pulau Pinang Bhd (KPKN) to the previous state government as the land was now valued 20 times more.
On the threat by residents to send a letter to Unesco to revoke George Town’s World Heritage Site listing, Lim said they had the right to do so but pointed out that the village was not in the heritage zone.
Deputy Chief Minister (II) Dr Ramasamy, who was present, said the state waited 15 months to investigate the matter as in the beginning the residents had won two cases involving the land in the Penang High Court.
He said the state would check if the documents from the Land Office were in order and find out why the land was sold by the previous state government at such a low price of RM3.2mil.
Kampung Buah Pala Association assistant secretary C. Tharmaraj when contacted questioned the position of the state to talk about compensation issues when it had yet to meet the residents or to complete investigations.
“We don’t want the money. We want the state to reveal how the land transaction happened. The transfer was made on March 26 last year and the council building permission was given in November 2007.”
Meanwhile, A leader of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) has appealed to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to intervene and resolve the Kampung Buah Pala issue in Penang.
In a letter dated June 30, K. Vasantha Kumar said Najib’s intervention was “necessary” to prevent the demolition of the village and to provide hope to the 45 families living there.
“I urge the Prime Minister to have an emergency meeting with the developer to stop the demolition and return the land to the residents,” he said.
Vasantha Kumar, who was among five Hindraf leaders detained under the Internal Security Act in December 2007, said if the Najib’s 1Malaysiaconcept was to become a reality, members of all races, languages, religions and creeds should be treated fairly and equally.
Kampung Buah Pala, popularly known as Penang’s High Chaparral, has been occupied for the past 200 years but its population has now dwindled to 45 families. It is the last known village occupied by Indians in Penang island.
In 2007, the 6.4-acre site was sold for RM3.21mil to Koperasi Pegawai Kerajaan Pulau Pinang Bhd, a cooperative, which entered into a joint venture agreement with Nusmetro Ventures (P) Sdn Bhd for a development project.
The residents had strongly objected and appealed to former Chief Minister Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon to reconsider the sale of the land, to no avail.
The villagers received a notice on Aug 30, 2007, asking them to move out so that their houses could be demolished while compensation talks were ongoing.
After a series of appeals, the Federal Court ruled in favour of the landowner and developer on June 24.
The village has been earmarked for a low medium and medium-cost housing project comprising 740 units, eight shoplots, a community hall and a kindergarten.
About 40% of the units have been sold.
Source : The Star