Media Statement by Liew Chin Tong in Bukit Bendera on Wednesday, 8th July 2009:
Kg Buah Pala - Hindraf's stance only profits developer
Kg Buah Pala is not an Indian issue. It is an economic and social justice issue.
Which is why we question the sincerity of certain leaders of Hindraf in their fight for the Kampung Buah Pala residents. We are confused about what these leaders are fighting for.
Do they want to preserve Kg. Buah Pala as a heritage of the Indian community on Penang island? Or do they feel that the compensation package offered is not adequate?
If it is about preserving Kg. Buah Pala as it is, are they fighting for the developer to make a handsome profit without even laying one brick for the proposed condominium project?
A compulsory acquisition of the land, with a stroke of the pen, whether by the state or federal government would require taxpayers’ money in the amount of RM150 million or more?
It is entirely possible that the amount could very well include not just the cost of the land but the opportunity cost for the developer.
But nonetheless, the price of acquiring the land “with a stroke of the pen” would result in the developer reaping a huge profit without the usual risk of any business venture.
We cannot speak on behalf of the developer, but we are concerned that such an option may become quite attractive to the developer if this issue is allowed to drag on.
But if these certain Hindraf leaders are concerned that the affected residents are not being offered adequate compensation then they should be asking to negotiate a proper settlement acceptable to all concerned.
We are curious as to why the amount of compensation being offered so far is being disputed on the one hand while on the other hand these leaders keep saying that we should preserve the land “with a stroke of a pen.” By this “stroke of a pen” the real beneficiaries will be the developer while the residents there lose any potential opportunity of uplifting themselves through any compensation money offered.
It is now time for the majority of Hindraf supporters to speak up and not let the movement be monopolized by leaders who by their rhetorics in the Kg. Buah Pala issue only led to racial discord and the developer's unmerited profit.
This is not an Indian issue. What we need at this moment is sound economic judgement coupled with social equity for the villagers. Not unrealistic romance which will ultimately profits only the rich and continue to enslave the poor in poverty.
* Liew Chin Tong, DAP International Secretary & MP for Bukit Bendera