Reported in Malaysiakini.com:
"The villagers' ancestors were brought to this place about 200 years ago as indentured labourers from South India to work in colonial estates. C Tharmaraj said the ancestors were given this land on free ownership by the Brown Estate Housing Trust before the Umno-dominated Malayan government turned it into a temporary occupation licence (TOL) settlement after Independence in 1957.
He said senior villagers would recall that their parents, mostly illiterate, were hoodwinked into signing documents about 50 years ago by government officers on the pretext of providing water and electricity supply to the village. He said the villagers only now realised that their forefathers were duped by their own government to terminate their land ownership and turn the land into a TOL village.
In 2005, the state land office stopped TOL collections from the villagers, alienated the land under state ownership and subsequently sold it to the cooperative."
The land was sold at a huge discount by the Koh Tsu Koon led government to a cooperative. This fiasco is a strong reason for Penangites to continue to reject a useless leader such as Koh.
This is a sad story. The villagers were duped and robbed off their land by the previous government. The new government claims it cannot do anything to correct the wrong. A spokesman of the new administration said it would cost the state some RM30 million to buy back the land. Why would the current state government do anything for the 22 poor families?
If the claim is correct, the panel of investigation set up by the new government should have taken a legal action against the past government and those who were involved in the land scam. Similar to the same action demanded by the PR leaders against those who were found guilty in the PKFZ fiasco.
The new transport minister, Ong Tee Keat, was asked to be responsible for the fiasco. Similarly, the new Penang administration should shoulder the responsibility to correct the injustice done against the villagers.
If nothing is being done, can the poor and powerless people continue to trust politicians to defend and protect their rights?
Are all politicians the same? The mandate to rule must come with a responsibility. A leader must have the courage to use his authority and political power to do the things right for the people.
Sad, this country does not have a place for poor, powerless and helpless people.