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Land split: Ex-estate workers cry foul

 | May 15, 2012

They were given 15 acres by the BN Selangor government in 2007, but now they only have seven acres. The other eight acres have been allocated for a luxury housing project.

KLANG: In 2007, the Barisan Nasional-led Selangor government allocated 15 acres of land to build houses for the former Bukit Raja estate workers.

But now a former worker claims that the Pakatan Rakyat state government had allegedly diverted eight of the 15 acres for a luxury housing project.

“Piling work (for the luxury housing project) started last month despite no signboard being placed at the site,” said P Mathialagan, 55.

The tractor driver said he was shocked to learn that the Klang District Land Office had a new plan which showed that the 15-acre land had been divided into two plots.

“The district office was reluctant to provide a copy of the so-called new plan and only allowed us to take a photograph of it.

“Something strange is going on. The ground breaking ceremony was officiated by Dr Xavier Jayakumar, the state exco (for Indian affairs) in January this year.

“So how come the 15-acre land can be split into two plots in just four months?” he asked.

Also present at the ground breaking ceremony were PKR Subang MP R Sivarasa, who is the lawyer for the ex-plantation workers and PKR Kapar MP S Manikavasagam.

Commenting further, Mathialagan said he wanted Jayakumar and Sivarasa to explain the matter.

He said that Bukit Raja estate was one of the pioneer rubber plantations in the country, founded about 200 years ago.

“I was seven-years-old when I came to Bukit Raja estate with my parents who were rubber tappers,” he added.

Mahtialagan said that in 1988, Sime Darby closed the estate to pave the way for commercial development.

However, all the 144 families who had been working in the estate, took Sime Darby to court in 2004 for not meeting several demands.

“We hired Sivarasa as the lawyer to represent us in this dispute,” he said.

“In 2007, former MIC president S Samy Vellu managed to get us the 15 acres from Sime Darby while another five acres were allocated to the Bukit Raja Tamil school,” he added.

Sime Darby allocated the land and RM7,000 as compensation for each family with the agreement that they had to build the houses on their own.

Land size disputed

Mahthialagan said Samy Vellu then handed over the entire housing project to Putra Umno chief Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim and the latter brought in SanuMurni Sdn Bhd, which was the current developer.

In 2007, the plantation workers signed an agreement with the housing developer. According to the agreement, each three-room house with two bathrooms would cost RM77,000.

“We were told to pay RM7,000 as deposit while the balance would be covered by bank loans,” said Mahthialagan, who added that the project which was to be completed in 2009 was abandoned.

After a long struggle, the Pakatan state government held the ground breaking ceremony on Jan 18 this year and the event was reported in all the Tamil dailies.

The PKR leaders, who attented the event, were reported as saying that the former estate workers would be given 15 acres.

“We were told that apart from houses, a temple and a public hall will be built as well,” said Mahtialagan.

“However, it seems like the Pakatan government broke its promise now that part of the land has given for a project to enrich their cronies,” he added.

Meanwhile, Jayakumar disputed the land size that was awarded to the ex- estate workers.

“Get your facts right. Go and ask Sime Darby about the land size. The 78 estate workers wanted landed property and the court ruled in their favour. They are getting it,” the exco told FMT.

However, Manikavasagam disagreed, saying that the allocation was indeed 15 acres.

“Bukit Raja estate comes under my constituency and I’m very sure that Sime Darby allocated 15 acres to the plantation workers,” added the Kapar MP.

Despite numerous attempts Sivarasa could not be contacted.


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