Uninhabited land next to Kampung Buah Pala which could be turned into an eco-village – Photos by Anil
The worried Buah Pala village folk are at a loss over what to do. Few outside the village seem to understand them. They have been labelled as greedy and demanding after being offered 24 two-storey terrace houses – which they feel is not enough as there are about 40 families in the village.
One lanky village youth keeping watch, a walkie-talkie attached to his waist, told me his household has 12 members. “How are we to fit into a terrace house?”
Villagers say a strip of uninhabited state land lies adjacent to the village. A villager pointed out to me where the land stood. I ambled down the slope, past the enclosure of grazing cows on the right and found an open space, filled with undergrowth along a fairly long monsoon drain. I ventured in cautiously – the strip seemed to extend deep inside, and it appeared wide enough for houses to be built. This was probably the 2.4 acres of state reserve land a few had been talking about.
As I trekked inside, I thought this could be turned into a model eco-village where residents could be encouraged to pursue projects that promote sustainable development and self-sufficiency.
If, for whatever reason, the state is unwilling to pursue the land scam angle to try and nullify the deal or reacquire the land (despite several MACC reports), why is it baulking at pressing the developer to provide more houses or using the state reserve land or the nearest available space? It is not as if there is not enough land around to relocate the village in the vicinity as an eco-friendly ‘kampung tersusun‘ or to provide additional housing if the developer is unwilling to provide more than 24 houses.
The Pakatan Rakyat government in Penang was voted in to do things differently from the BN. This would be as good an occasion as any to show that they are really different and more committed to marginalised communities.