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Friday, July 10, 2009

> Kg Buah Pala: Villagers to file fresh writ to claim ownership

by Athi Shankar

The 'High Chaparral' Kampung Buah Pala villagers will file a fresh writ at the Penang High Court next week to stake claim of ownership over the village, which they claim to have resided in for nearly 200 years.

Darshan Singh Khaira, their lawyer, said he will file the writ under common law principles of adverse possession, equity and legitimate expectation.

When asked to explain the writ's contents, Darshan (right) said the villagers would base their argument on the fact that they had stayed in the village for years without giving recognition to any other ownership.

Darshan said the villagers had occupied the land uninterupted for more than 12 years after it was given to them by their colonial estate master Helen Margaret Brown.

According to him, there were many case law precedents to back the villagers' claim of ownership.

He said the villagers would also apply for a stay of execution of the writ of possession dated June 2 issued to them by the proposed developer Nusmetro Venture (P) Sdn Bhd.

Declassified documents handed over

The developer issued the writ after the villagers lost their appeal at the Federal Court last month.

Kampung Buah Pala villagers had sought to set aside an earlier Court of Appeal decision favouring the land owner, Koperasi Pegawai Pegawai Kanan Kerajaan Pulau Pinang, and Nusmetro.

The villagers face eviction from Kampung Buah Pala after Aug 2.

Kampung Buah Pala is famously known as 'Tamil High Chaparral' by locals due to its cowherds, cattles, goats and Tamil traditional way of life.

Today, the state government handed over several declassified documents pertaining to the land deal to the village committee assistant secretary C Tharmaraj.

Darshan praised Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for releasing the documents.

Lim was notified of transaction

According the documents, the cooperative society had paid RM2.247 million on March 14, 2008 - a week after Lim had become the chief minister.

The land was transferred by the state government to the cooperative society on March 27, 19 days after Pakatan Rakyat captured the Penang government in the March 8 general election.

Tharmaraj alleged that on March 16, the villagers were informed by their then lawyer Cecil Rajendra that Lim had been notified about the land transaction.

He said Cecil Rajendra had ask Lim to scrutinise the transaction and that there was a pending court case on the village land.

“Lim now claims that he didn't know anything about the transaction. Lim should stop blaming the previous administration on the issue. He is partly to be blamed for allowing the transaction,” he said.

The declassified documents contained the chronology of the previous BN executive council decisions made on the Kampung Buah Pala land deals.

We'll meet Lim if he's sincere

Lim has said that the document proved that former Chief Minister Koh Tsu Koon and his Umno, MCA, MIC and Gerakan cohorts had robbed the villagers of their land without consulting them.

Tharmaraj said that the Kampung Buah Pala Residents Association would be the villagers' sole voice and Darshan their legal representative.

Yesterday the villagers did not attend a proposed meeting with Lim (left) when they were refused to be accompanied by Darshan.

Tharmaraj said the villagers would welcome Lim wholeheartedly to the village if he sincerely wanted to have a 'heart to heart talk' with them.

Darshan called on Lim's government to testify during the court hearing on the villagers' impending writ of ownership claim.

“If the state government can admit in court that the deals were fraudulent, then it need not pay a single cent to reacquire the land since the deal would be nullified.

“It will end the villagers' predicament once for all if the state government can do that,” he said - Malaysiakini.