Ulu Yam vegetable farms
eviction off: Victory for the farmers thanks to pressure mounted by
DAP and NGOs
by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew
a big relief and victory for the Ulu Yam Farmers. The pending eviction is
off and they can continue to grow vegetables to earn a living for their
families. We have saved the most valuable vegetable farms in Selangor.
Selangor MB Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir
Toyo has called off the pending eviction and agreed to let out the farmlands
to the farmers after visiting the Ulu Yam vegetable farms yesterday. Khir
Toyo would not have changed his mind without the pressure mounted by DAP and
other NGOs like the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Selangor Chamber of
Commerce and the Federation of Vegetable Farmers. The media has also done a
good job by reporting the controversy widely. One local Chinese daily should
be commended for publishing a special feature report continuously over 3
DAP has intervened in the case upon
receiving complaints from the farmers at a time when MCA has given up all
hopes. The Selangor Exco member Datuk Ch’ng Toh Eng who happens to be the
advisor of the Selangor Vegetable Farmers Association have told the farmers
to leave their farms within three weeks on 23 February 2005.Ch’ng has
broken the bad news to the farmers a day after the MCA President Datuk Seri
Ong Ka Ting openly directed him to resolve the matter as reported in the
press! Ch’ng has earlier openly blamed the DAP for politicizing the matter
and has threatened to wash his hands.
DAP has helped the farmers to bring
their plight to the Parliament on 9 December 2004. We have also helped
prepare a memorandum to be presented to the Prime Minister, the Agriculture
and Agro-Industry Minister, the Chairman of Backbenchers Club and the
Opposition Leader. Our two Selangor state assemblymen have also spoken up
for the farmers by raising the matter in the state assembly in December last
The Minister of Agriculture and
Agro-Industry has sent his officials to visit the farms shortly after
receiving the farmers’ memorandum from DAP MP for Bukit Mertajam Chong
Eng. They were supportive of retaining the farms after seeing the valuable
farms with their own eyes.
But the Selangor MB was adamant
despite of the disagreement expressed by the Ministry of Agriculture. He
just wanted the farms to give way to a housing project under the state
investment arm PNSB without any justification.
DAP continues to defend the farmers by
demanding the Prime Minister to intervene directly. We maintained that the
pending destruction of the Ulu Yam vegetable farms equals to open and direct
defiance to the national agricultural policy declared personally by the PM
in his 2004 Budget, and such action taken by the state government will
certainly erode the credibility of the Pak Lah’s administration.
But the worries of the farmers were
not totally over unless and until they obtain the titles for their
farmlands. They deserve to own the lands for they have submitted their
applications some 30 to 40 years by now.
Would the Selangor MB now go one step
further to approve their applications?
Just a week ago, I have seen a
Selangor developer putting up advertisements in the newspapers to sell
agricultural plots by the acres. If Khir Toyo can alienate government lands
for the developers for profit-making, we do not see why he cannot help the
Would the Federal Government help to
legalize the status of all vegetable farmers who said to be farming
illegally on government’s lands?
The Federation of Vegetable Farmers
has estimated that more than 70% of the current farmers were farming “illegally”
in the country. This situation has reflected badly on the government.
Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has
our full support when he earmarks agriculture as the third engine of growth
for the Malaysia. It’s time for the PM to walk the talk.
* Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew,
DAP International Secretary and NGO bureau chief