Ulu Yam Vegetable farmers face eviction: Selangor MB turns his back on PM's agricultural policy

Press Statement
by Ronnie

(Kuala Lumpur,  Wednesday): 36 vegetable farmers in Ulu Yam have received eviction orders from the Selangor State Government to give way to housing developers. The farmers here have been growing vegetables for the past three generations but their application for land rights were never successful for the past one hundred years.

The state government was fully aware of the fact that the Ulu Yam farms ( about 600 acres)is the largest vegetables producer in the state as Ch’ng Toh Eng, a state exco member, happens to be the advisor of the Selangor Vegetables Traders Association. According to the association, 80% of the vegetables sold in the Selayang Wholesale Market, the state’s largest vegetables market, were in fact produced in Ulu Yam.

Agriculture has been ignored by the Mahathir administration for too long, so much so that Malaysia has been relying very heavily on the import of foods for the past twenty years. The total bill on imported foods has risen from RM 9 billion in 1997 to RM14 billion in 2003.

The Prime Minister seems to be aware of the serious problem and he has been talking about the significance and importance of agriculture for the past one year. But the Selangor Mentri Besar seems to have turned his back on the Prime Minister's policy.

(Incidentally, the Selangor MB also turns his back to the DPM Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak who ordered every state government to gazette all water catchment areas to protect valuable water resources after chairing the 18th National Forest Council meeting on 4th November 2004 in Putrajaya. He has allowed incinerators and landfills to be built in environment-sensitive water catchment areas time and again.)

One can only expect our imported food bill to jump another few notches when more and more farms like the one in Ulu Yam were forced to give way to housing and other forms of development.

DAP Selangor will be paying a visit to the Ulu Yam farms on Saturday morning to meet the farmers. We will certainly offer our solidarity to the farmers and do our best to protect the largest vegetable farms in the state.

We would also highlight to the farmers about the threat from the proposed Bukit Tagar landfill in the vicinity. Bukit Tagar sits right in the Sg Tengi water catchment area. If the Bukit Tagar landfill is allowed to be built as planned, it will certainly bring nightmares not only to the farmers in Ulu Yam, but also to those in Sekinchan and Tanjung Karang. Even the famous Ulu Yam Dam may be adversely affected in the long run, and the people in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor may risk losing yet another valuable water resource.


* Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP International Secretary and NGO bureau chief