PETALING JAYA: DAP’s Sungkai assemblyman A Sivanesan has threatened to take legal action against English daily The Star and its reporter for allegedly misreporting an issue pertaining to the clearing of farmland for sand mining at Kampung Baru Kuala Bikam near Bidor, Perak, recently.
Speaking to FMT, Sivanesan said The Star made factual errors in the report.
“I have been working with the affected farmers there since I contested in the area in 2004. I understand their problems very well.
“In the first place, the land matter involves 30 farmers and not 60, as reported by The Star.
“I have also engaged with the respective stakeholders (the 30 farmers, Menteri Besar Incorporated and the sand mining company). But all three parties have refused to budge from their stand,” he said.
In the last 10 days, Sivanesan said he had met the respective stakeholders to find a win-win solution.
“Here I am trying to sort out this matter between the three parties and The Star is accusing me as though I approved the (sand mining) contract.
“How could I have done that when I am not even involved in the negotiations?
“From what I know, negotiations took place some time in April this year, and the measurements of the land were done way earlier. That is why they were able to bring in their tractors.
“These negotiations were decided on certain terms by the former administration and then we took over,” he said.
Sivanesan added that he would be meeting the respective stakeholders this coming Monday (Aug 6) to try to iron out the matter.
“I have also requested for the state to halt any work they are carrying out now until this matter is resolved by the three parties.
“The state has social obligations to fulfil when it comes to the people.
“Under the Federal Constitution, Article 5, the farmers have the right to a livelihood and the state must honour this.”
He said that 60% of the constituents are farmers and therefore the state government must not ignore their plight.
According to Sivanesan, the farmers have been fighting for this land as they have been there a long time.
“If you look at the land today, the farmers have managed the land well (planting fruits and vegetables).
“This compares to the land being used for sand mining. When the sand miners are done, the land will be left abandoned.”
Sivanesan added that he was in the midst of finding out who gave the order for the work to begin to clear the land.
“I have made a few calls today, but I have yet to find out which clerk gave the orders. No one seems to know what is actually happening.
“I only know that a Mr Lee had tried to contact me yesterday and he claims that I cut the call. I did not and was on my way to a function at a temple in Bagan Datuk,” he said.
It was reported earlier by The Star that a sand mining company started to bulldoze 180 acres (73ha) of farmland yesterday in Kampung Baru Kuala Bikam.
The report also stated that Sivanesan was preparing to get the state exco to help the farmers and had accused him of cutting a call when the desperate farmers saw tractors clearing their former land.
According to a spokesman for the farmers, Poh Wai Sheng, the Pakatan Harapan had assured them of help with the land issue during the 14th general election campaign.
The report also claimed the order to “go ahead” with the mining came from Sivanesan.