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GERAKAN REFORMASI RAKYAT
 
From:  "Parti Sosialis Malaysia PSM" <parti_sosialis@hotmail.com>
Subject:  From eviction notice to grants
Date:  Wed, 13 Sep 2000 01:19:52 MYT
Kg Chekkadi, Buntong: From Eviction Notice To Grants For Housing Lots

On 17 August 2000, 148 people of Kg Chekkadi had plenty of reason to be
happy. They were the first batch of peneroka from the kampung to receive
grants for housing lots in the planned village of Buntong Lima (Rancangan
Perkampungan Tersusun Buntong Lima). Just five years ago, they faced the
threat of eviction from the land they had pioneered up to 60 years back.

Before the advent of these urban pioneers, Kg Chekkadi was an abandoned
mining area and a nightsoil dumping spot. The people built their homes, dug
drains, dumped soil and planted trees and shrubs, thus rehabilitating
economically unviable mining land. It became immensely appealing to
developers and the government in the 80’s and that was when the government
offered to resettle the Chekkadi pioneers in a nearby unused area, Buntong
Lima.

But with the construction of the Ipoh-Lumut highway and rapid development in
Buntong,
the government reneged on its promise to the people to resettle them in
Buntong Lima. The former Chief Minister Ramli Ngah Talib, drew up an
agreement dividing up the land among Dato Arshad, a former speaker of the
Perak State Assembly, Razali, a former deputy Director of Lands and Mines
and Ho Cheong Seng, Member of Parliament for Ipoh Barat. The land office
sent out eviction notices to the people in 1994, despite two previous
written offers of lots.

But the Chekkadi residents, who were not to be easily evicted, grouped
together and wrested back what was rightfully theirs. Not without a struggle
though. The highlight of their struggle was an orderly march of about 200
people to the Buntong police station to report the attempted demolition of
some houses in Kg Chekkadi. In a shocking turn of events, 166 people were
arrested along with Dr.Jeyakumar Devaraj, K. Kunasekaran and MohanaRani
Rasiah of the PSM. Several hundred others who had gathered outside the
police station were baton-charged by the FRU. That was in March 1996. The
unlawful arrest of and police brutality towards the villagers who were
trying to lodge a report received wide coverage in the press. It embarrassed
and damaged the image of the state government so badly that in the very next
state assembly sitting in April 1996, the Chief Minister announced the
implementation of the earlier plan to resettle the Kg Chekkadi peneroka
bandar in a planned village in Buntong Lima.

”If not for people’s power, we would have been driven out of this place 6
years ago. But the struggle is not over until everyone here has received a
lot, “ says D. Selvaraj, assistant secretary of the people’s land committee
and himself a recipient of a lot in Buntong Lima.