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Friday, August 14, 2009

High Tension at High Chaparral 13/08/09

Nusmetro agreement

SMS Circulation in Penang

By Admin,

Few minutes ago I got a sms from unknown number saying that

"The developer porposal of house valued at Rm500K But mr Tamaraj & Sugumaran is too much. They are too greedy n unreasonable. They caused the dismay of the villages. I can't support thiese 2 sinner.

This sms also circulated by Chinese in Penang to show hatred toward Kg.Buah Pala.

I Shall ask PDRM, is it a sedition or not?????

Case of a severe land malady

By Gunasegaram (The Star)

The cheap sale of the ‘High Chaparral’ is a clear example of how land is very questionably alienated to the detriment of those occupying them.

AT THE time of writing, the bulldozers were standing ready to demolish the over-150-year-old Kampung Buah Pala residential area which is occupied by descendents of Indian indentured labourers, who, among other things, graze cattle there.

The 40-odd families are making a last-ditch stand against the developers Numestro Venture (P) Sdn Bhd who are in joint venture with landowners Koperasi Pegawai Kerajaan Pulau Pinang.

The train of events indicates a sorry tale of unfair deprivation of their land through questionable means although many, including Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, dismiss the residents as a mercenary lot holding out for higher prices.

That no one, including the new Penang state government, whose members promised to stop the development if they came to power, could do anything to help the residents is a real pity and reflects poorly on the processes by which land is alienated and allocated in our country.

Kampung Buah Pala raises a series of questions the answers to which will pin the blame squarely on those responsible, establish clearly whether there was a breach of law and by whom, and lead to a more equitable solution which will take into account the fact that the current residents can trace their ancestry on the land back to at least five generations.

It is useful to trace the events that led to this standoff. We have depended on press reports. In 2004 and 2005, the Penang state executive council then approved the sale of the 2ha-plus land at a premium of RM20 a sq ft or RM6.42mil to the Penang government officers’ cooperative.

This was halved to RM10 per sq ft or RM3.21mil in 2007. The current value of the land is estimated at as much as RM40mil, over a dozen times the price the state government got. This implies that the land was allocated at a tiny fraction of the market value.

Question 1: Why was it allocated so cheaply and who was responsible?

Apparently, the cooperative entered into a joint-venture with Nusmetro to develop the land into high-end luxury condominiums.

The villagers, who trace their ancestry on the land back 150-200 years then sued the cooperative and the developers, claiming that they were given the right to stay there. Their ancestors were indentured labourers brought in by the East India Company to work for the Brown Estate.

The owner and employer, Helen Margaret Brown, settled them in separate plots of land with space to rear cows and goats, and to plant fruit trees and the land became categorised as a housing trust, the villagers maintained.

Question 2: Why were the villagers not offered the right to purchase the land at the same price the cooperative paid when it is beyond dispute that the villagers and their ancestors have stayed in the same area for 150-200 years?

The villagers were not so lucky when they took their case to court. Initially, the High Court ruled in their favour last year but in May it was overturned by the Court of Appeal. They took their case to the Federal Court but lost it in June.

They have now applied for a revision of the Federal Court judgment that ruled against them and the application is fixed for mention on Aug 18, according to press reports.

Records at the Companies Commission indicate that Nusmetro is a dormant company with an issued capital of a mere RM250,000. It is in turn majority-owned by a company called Asia Link-Up (240,000 of the 250,000 shares), another dormant company.

Question 3: Why is the Penang government officers’ cooperative going into joint venture to build high-end condominiums with companies which clearly have no ability to do so? Who is responsible for this?

Residents are now questioning the Penang state government’s failure to invoke Section 116 (d) of the National Land Code although the state government said a month ago that it could stop any demolition attempt at Kampung Buah Pala.

According to the clause, any building on alienated land cannot be demolished without approval of the relevant authority.

Residents maintained that Chief Minister Lim had assured the residents that if the villagers rejected the offer, the state would file an application in court to invoke Section 116 (d).

Question 4: Why has the Penang state government not invoked Section 116 to protect the villagers?

Obviously, there are a lot of questions which demand answers and there is a great chance of impropriety indicating that the land could have been unfairly taken away from the villagers. Our courts have not shown themselves to be particularly sympathetic to aggrieved parties as indicated by this case and others.

Perhaps it is not in their power to investigate. However, a report has already been lodged with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency (MACC). But so far, MACC has not approached the developer of the Kampung Buah Pala land for questioning although “graft reports over the land transaction were filed separately last month by Deputy Chief Minister (II) Dr P. Ramasamy and political secretary to the chief minister, Ng Wei Aik”, according to news reports.

“The MACC has not come to us for any investigation,” Nusmetro managing director Thomas Chan was quoted as having said when queried by reporters.

Question 5: When there is urgent public interest to be served and when the fate of over 40 families hangs in the balance, why has the MACC not investigated this case and urgently?

This is important because if it is established that the transfer of the land is fraudulent, then the transfer may not be valid.

Clearly, residents are getting the wrong end of the stick here, notwithstanding Lim’s attempt to negotiate a settlement for them, demanding that their lawyers not be present. That is a strange request for laymen to come to a complicated negotiation without the benefit of lawyers.

At the time of finishing this article, the bailiff ended the standoff by deferring it to the end of the month on humanitarian grounds and to avoid bloodshed. That’s wise, but still there is a crying need for a just solution.

No matter how the issue eventually ends, one thing is abundantly clear – there are many fishy deals on land and it is more than time we put a stop to all that.

Managing editor P. Gunasegaram says that land is a dwindling resource that the government must guard carefully, give to the right people and get a good price for.

MACC arrests Ronnie Liu’s aide

Liu at a recent press conference. Standing behind him is Wong. — File pic

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid - The Malaysian Insider

SHAH ALAM, Aug 14 — A special assistant to Ronnie Liu was detained by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) this morning for alleged misappropriation of funds allocated for the Selangor exco's constituency.

Liu, speaking to The Malaysian Insider, said he was outraged by the arrest, claiming that the MACC had informed him that his aide, Wong Chuan How, was only to be questioned as a witness and not a suspect.

The graft busters had been scheduled to question Wong at the Sungai Pelek service centre this morning but the special assistant was told that he was a suspect instead and was to be escorted back to the MACC headquarters in Putrajaya.

"First the MACC said they only wanted to question him as a witness, now they're saying he's a suspect and want to detain him and question him in Putrajaya. This is wrong," he said.

Wong then refused to go with MACC officers and insisted on lodging a police report, claiming the attempt to detain him was illegal. This led to a scuffle between him and the MACC officers.

Liu said his lawyers have already been instructed to go to the Sungai Pelek police station to try and resolve the matter.

The arrest, said Liu, was none other than part of an ongoing attempt by the Barisan Nasional-led federal government to weaken the Selangor Pakatan Rakyat government through systematic harassment.

Gopal Sri Ram loses bid for law library

By Lee Wei Lian -The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 14 — Federal Court judge Datuk Gopal Sri Ram lost his bid to claim the law library of his former legal firm as well as the discontinuance of the use of his name by his former law firm.

Judicial Commissioner Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal today dismissed Sri Ram's claims with costs at the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

In delivering his judgment, Harmindar said that in the absence of a written agreement between the former partners with regards to the law library of the firm Sri Ram and Co, now known as Kumar and Co, Sri Ram had to rely on oral evidence but that no particulars were given as to the arrangements entered to between the former partners.

He also noted that the defendants had called witnesses, who were former partners of the firm, who disproved to him the assertions of Sri Ram.

"As the burden is on the plaintiff to prove his claim, not only has he failed to do so, but the evidence that I have alluded to thus far is also sufficient to disentitle the plaintiff to his claim for the law library," said Harmindar.

Quotable quotes... The king sings

By Jeff Ooi

UPDATED VERSION: Tiong and Ong -- which one tells no truth? Or are both lying?

ALLEGATION: Agencies in the BN government tasked to investigate the PKFZ project said this week it had found disputed claims by Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd, which amounted to at least RM500 million.

COUNTER-ALLEGATION: Kuala Dimensi CEO, Bintulu MP Tiong King Sing, exposed that MCA president Ong Tee Keat had received a RM10 million cash donation from him.

"I offered a cheque but Ong asked for cash because it was faster. I am very sincere in my intentions," Tiong was quoted as saying in Malaysian Insider.

COUNTER COUNTER-ALLEGATION: Today, besides lodging a police report against Tiong for alleged criminal defamation, Tee Keat said he was giving Tiong seven days to withdraw his statement and apologise or else face legal action.

By stating that "the real can't be fake, and the fake can't be real" (“真的假不了,假的真不了”), Tee Keat implied that truth shall prevail to clear his name.

So, who between Tiong and Ong is not true? And what if they are both truthfully telling of each other?

Four fellow DAP MPs and I accompanied Kit Siang to file a police report on the Tiong-Ong revelations. We want the case to be investigated, and let the truth be told.

PKFZ_Kit-Police_090813x600.jpg

PKFZ_Kit_JO_090813x500.jpg
All pictures downloaded from Malaysiakini

In the exchange of fires between the two, there are more revealing quotes, in fact.

Chronology of Buah Pala Land scam - Tamil

Part 1


Part 2


Part 3


Part 4



The MACC's job is to cover PDRM's backside; and vice versa

Image

Malaysians can't understand why the police is covering up the death of Teoh Beng Hock at the hands of the MACC. Well, when the MACC's job is to cover PDRM's backside what do you expect? You scratch my back and I scratch yours, the saying in Malaysia goes. And the MACC and PDRM treat this dogma as a religion that replaces Islam.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Part 1: Screw you, IGP. Reply to this!

Part 2: MACC is PDRM’s baruah goon squad

Kampung Buah Pala demolition put off after tense standoff

UPDATED

PENANG, Aug 13 — The controversial demolition of Kampung Buah Pala has been postponed to Sept 1, after a tense standoff today between villagers, the land owners and police.

George Town OCPD Azam Abd Hamid said today an agreement had been reached with all parties to postpone the court-ordered demolition.

Villagers protesting the impending demolition of Kampung Buah Pala battle with riot police of the Federal Reserve Unit after heavy machinery was sent to the site today.

Bulldozers were sent in this morning into the village to demolish the houses whose residents refused to move out of the disputed piece of land.

Police had earlier cordoned off the village as the deadline for the residents to move out ended today.

The residents had earlier refused to take up the developers’ offer of double-storey houses to move out.

Scores of residents and members of non-governmental organisations sat in the rain to form a human barricade to prevent the heavy machinery from destroying their homes.

Police presence was heavy and some villagers claimed that the police were resorting to “violence” to disperse them.

There was much shouting and pushing throughout the morning, with villagers, representatives of NGOs and political parties trying to prevent demolition work from starting.

Kampung Buah Pala residents have argued that they are victims of a land scam perpetrated by the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) administration.

The DAP-led Pakatan Rakyat (PR) state government had negotiated an offer from the developer of double-storey terrace houses in return for the villagers moving out.

But this was rejected by a majority of the villagers.

Last week Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said his administration would wash their hands of the controversy since the offer had been rejected.

The land owners, who want to build apartments on the land, had won a court case against the villagers to have them evicted.

But the villagers, backed by Hindraf leaders who claimed the village of cowherds was an Indian heritage, wanted the state government to sign over the land to them.

The original settlers of the village had been workers in a British-owned plantation. When the planters left the original settlers were allowed to live on the land based on a trust administered by the colonial administration.

After independence the land was converted to temporary occupational licence (TOL) status as the new Penang state government in 1957 was unwilling to act as trustees.

During Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon’s administration, the land, which belonged to the state, was sold.

Hindraf and MIC leaders have attempted to turn the issue into a racial dispute, but the issue has not gained much traction, and public sympathy appears to have swung against the villagers after they rejected the offer of double-storey houses.

Samy Vellu sees Indians as king-makers in Permatang Pasir

PENANG, Aug 13 - The Indian community's votes may determine a win for the Barisan Nasional (BN) in the Permatang Pasir state by-election on Aug 25, MIC president Datuk Seri S.Samy Vellu said today.

He said although the Indian voters are only 1.63 per cent or about 350 people, their votes may determine the outcome.

His estimation was based on the narrow win by Pas in the Manik Urai by-election on July 14 where BN lost by just 65 votes.

"Based on Manik Urai, I believe the Indians can play an important role in Permatang Pasir,” he said when opening the new Penang MIC headquarters building.

"I, together with MIC top leaders, will campaign aggressively in Permatang Pasir, and I am confident Penang MIC has made all preparations for the nomination day on Aug 17," he said.

"Given that the number of Indian voters is small, we will campaign house to house and have ceramahs in small groups. That way is more effective," he said.

"An operations room can be opened in this building (the new Penang MIC headquarters) and also in the by-election area," he said.

Samy Vellu said he will have a meeting with the Penang MIC soon on steps to be taken for the by-election which he felt was very important for the BN.

The BN and the opposition will announce their candidates tomorrow.

The Permatang Pasir state seat fell vacant following the death of assemblyman Datuk Mohd Hamdan Abdul Rahman, 63.

In the 12th general election Hamdan defeated BN's Ahmad Sahar Shuib with a majority of 5,433 votes. The state constituency has 20,289 votes (including postal voters) with 72.36 per cent being Malays, 25.85 per cent Chinese and 1.63 per cent Indians. - Bernama

Police and MACC should commence immediate investigations into Tiong King Sing’s allegations against Transport Minister Ong Tee Keat, particularly over

By Lim Kit Siang,

At 1.40 pm at the SS2 Police Station, Petaling Jaya, I lodged the following report against the MCA President and Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat and the Kuala Dimensi Sdn. Bhd (KDSB) CEO and MP for Bintulu, Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing asking for police to commence immediate investigations into Tiong allegations against Ong, particularly over Tiong’s RM10 million donation to Ong last year for MCA divisions.

My police report, SEA PARK/006222/09 reads:

“This is to lodge a police report on what appeared in all the media today, including New Straits Times, Star, the Sun, Sin Chew Daily, Nanyang Siang Pau, China Press, Guang Ming, Kwong Wah Yit Poh and Oriental Daily,Berita Harian, as well as electronic media like Malaysiakini and Malaysian Insider viz:

  1. Statement by the chief executive of Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd and MP for Bintulu, Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing that he donated RM10 million to Transport Minister and MCA President, Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat last year;

  2. Statement by the deputy CEO of Kuala Dimensi Sdn. Bhd Datuk Faizal Abdullah that Ong had used the company’s jet five times incurring US$40,000 for the services; and

  3. Denial by Ong that he had received RM10 million “loan” from Tiong last year and with regard to Faizal’s allegation, said that his office had yet to receive invoices for the services.

Grave questions whether criminal offences had been committed in the form of abuses of power and even corrupt practices by Ong and Tiong should be immediately investigated by the police and MACC.

Police should investigate this together with the death threats which Ong had alleged he received recently, whether connected with the RM12.5 billion Port Klang Free Zone scandal or otherwise.”

Somebody is not telling the truth, Ong or Tiong or both. Either Ong should step down as MCA President and Transport Minister or Tiong should step down as Barisan Nasional Barisan Backbenchers’ Club (BNBBC Chairman), or both should step down.

The latest allegations by Tiong and denial by Ong, together with the recent death threats at Ong as alleged by the MCA President, raise even more questions about the RM12.5 billion PKFZ scandal and cast a most adverse reflection on the integrity and good governance of the Najib premiership.

Myanmar migrants stuck in Malaysia detention camps

Photo credit: AP | **ADVANCE FOR SUNDAY, AUG. 16** In this photo taken on Thursday, July 23, 2009, shelters accommodate detainees at the Lenggeng immigration detention center, south of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The choice is a tough one _ face the possibility of being sold by an unscrupulous agent or linger in an overcrowded detention center. As Malaysia is cracking down on human trafficking _ following a critical U.S. government report _ the well-intentioned steps are hurting some they are supposed to help. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

SEPANG, Malaysia (AP) — A growing number of immigrants from Myanmar are ending up stuck, often for months, in crowded detention centers in Malaysia designed to hold people for only a few weeks.

Almost 2,800 Myanmarese were detained at camps in July, more than double the 1,200 in January, partly because of a crackdown on human trafficking, a step-up in raids and a slow economy that leaves the migrants without jobs. People from Myanmar, a desperately poor country with a military junta, are now the biggest group among the 7,000 foreigners at detention centers in Malaysia.

At a center near the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, some 120 men sat in neat rows on the floor. Many had their legs drawn to their chests, and all were barefoot. There was not enough space and not enough bedding.

"There is no soap for taking a shower, nothing. They don't give us anything," said Kyaw Zin Lin, 23, who said he fled to avoid being drafted into the Myanmar army. "Every day we eat the food just to survive. ... They treat us like animals."

"It's very difficult to stay here," said Aung Kuh The, a pale 26-year-old. "We have got a lot of problems. Some people, you know, we want to see the doctor but we don't have the chance."

One reason for the rise in detainees is a crackdown on trafficking. A report published in April by the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations cited firsthand accounts of Myanmarese who said immigration officers turned them over to traffickers.

That practice has all but stopped, Myanmar community leaders in Malaysia say.

Now, though, the Myanmarese are trapped in detention. The Myanmar embassy often takes six months to register its citizens for deportation and charges them 620 ringgit ($180), much more than neighboring Indonesia. By contrast, detainees from other countries are typically deported within a week.

Calls to the Myanmar embassy were repeatedly put on hold and then unanswered.

About half the Myanmarese — those fleeing persecution — may qualify for U.N. refugee status, but that process takes up to four months. The others are economic migrants. Some 140,000 Myanmarese work in Malaysia, but foreign workers who are laid off lose the right to stay.

Some Myanmarese have spent more than six months in crowded, dirty detention centers. One man, whose brother was in detention for four months, said he would rather be sold to traffickers from whom he could buy his freedom.

"I prefer to be trafficked," said the man, who would only be identified by his nickname, Ryan, to protect his relatives in Myanmar. "I don't mind paying 2,000 ringgit ($570)."

Five of Malaysia's 13 detention centers are overcrowded; four of the five have large Myanmarese populations, according to the immigration department. Journalists from The Associated Press accompanied the human rights group Amnesty International on a rare visit recently to three detention centers just south of Kuala Lumpur, the country's biggest city.

At the Lenggeng Detention Depot, 1,400 people are crammed into dormitories meant for 1,200. Of them about 300 are from Myanmar.

Hundreds of men jostle each other for room in the bare dormitories. One sleeps on a stone ledge in a bathroom. Each dormitory is fenced by wire mesh and barbed wire, giving detainees just a few meters (feet) of space for walking.

"The detention centers we saw fell short of international standards in many respects, as the immigration authorities themselves acknowledge," said Michael Bochenek of Amnesty International. "It's a facility of such size that infectious diseases are communicated readily."

Saw Pho Tun, a refugee community leader, said some immigration officers have singled out Myanmarese detainees for rough treatment, beating them and not allowing them medical assistance. Immigration officials deny beating detainees and say everyone has access to medical care.

On July 1, detainees at another center flung their food trays and damaged some of the mesh fence. Immigration officials blamed the riot on frustration about having to stay so long, but detainees say they rioted because they were afraid of abuse.

Most of the blocks have now been shut for repairs, so more than 1,000 detainees — including 700 from Myanmar — were transferred ot other already crowded centers.

Abdul Rahman Othman, the director general of the Immigration Department, said he was taking steps to prevent his officers from being "entangled" in trafficking syndicates. He said officers would be rotated to different posts every three years and have a buddy system to supervise each other.

"Ninety-nine percent of us in immigration are good people," he said, denying the problem is widespread.

Police arrested five officers on trafficking allegations last month. They say their investigations revealed immigration officials took Myanmar immigrants to the Thai border and sold them for up to 600 ringgit ($170) to traffickers. The traffickers then told the migrants to pay 2,000 ringgit ($570) for their freedom, or they would be forced to work in the fishing industry, police said.

Myanmar community leaders said women who failed to pay were sold into prostitution.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Press Release: Expedite investigation into lawyer’s death

ImageThe Malaysian Bar is heartened that the Police are taking the matter of the death of lawyer R. Thinakaran Raman seriously and that a special task force has been established to investigate his death.

We are concerned, in particular, that the threats and assaults against him may be related to his profession, and that the security of lawyers may be at risk as a consequence of them performing their professional obligations as advocates and solicitors. Such threats may compromise the independence and ability of lawyers to carry out their duties fearlessly.

We urge the Police to do the utmost possible to expedite the investigations and to resolve the case speedily while leaving no stone unturned.

The Malaysian Bar is saddened by R. Thinakaran Raman’s death and extends its heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.


Ragunath Kesavan
President
Malaysian Bar

13 August 2009

Indians May Determine Win In Permatang Pasir

PENANG, Aug 13 (Bernama) -- The Indian community's votes may determine a win for the Barisan Nasional (BN) in the Permatang Pasir state by-election on Aug 25, MIC president Datuk Seri S.Samy Vellu said Thursday.

He said although the Indian voters are only 1.63 per cent or about 350 people their votes may determine the outcome.

His estimation was based on the narrow win by Pas in the Manik Urai by-election on July 14 where BN lost by just 65 votes.

"Based on Manik Urai, I believe the Indians can play an important role in Permatang Pasir," he said when opening the new Penang MIC headquarters building.

"I, together with MIC top leaders, will campaign aggressively in Permatang Pasir, and I am confident Penang MIC has made all preparations for the nomination day on Aug 17," he said.

"Given that the number of Indian voters is small, we will campaign house to house and have ceramahs in small groups. That way is more effective," he said.

"An operations room can be opened in this building (the new Penang MIC headquarters) and also in the by-election area," he said.

Samy Vellu said he will have a meeting with the Penang MIC soon on steps to be taken for the by-election which he felt was very important for the BN.

The BN and the opposition will announce their candidates tomorrow.

The Permatang Pasir state seat fell vacant following the death of assemblyman Datuk Mohd Hamdan Abdul Rahman, 63. In the 12th general election Hamdan defeated BN's Ahmad Sahar Shuib with a majority of 5,433 votes.

The state constituency has 20,289 votes (including postal voters) with 72.36 per cent being Malays, 25.85 per cent Chinese and 1.63 per cent Indians.

On another development, Samy Vellu advised Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to humble himself to the poor and to not forget the voters who had supported the opposition for their wins in the last general election.

He said Lim should listen to the residents of Kampung Buah Pala and be sympathetic to the people who had supported the opposition and pay attention to them.

"How can he forget them? Just one year on and they are forgotten. This can't be done," he said, adding that Lim and the state government should find an alternative solution if the initial solution was not accepted.

Samy Vellu was asked to comment on the altercation at Kampung Buah Pala today after the developer Nusmetro Ventures (P) Sdn brought workers and tractors to demolish 23 houses there after a stalemate on finding a solution.

Asked about the MIC's move after this, he said, the party will wait and see what sort of aid was given by the state government as it was its responsibility.

He said the MIC had offered to pay the state government RM3.2 million if it was brave enough to take back the land from the owner and developer and give it to the villagers but that did not happen.

"Never mind this is a gone case already and we have no more comments," he said.