Wednesday, July 8, 2009

No lawyer, no face-off with CM

Malaysiakini, 8 July 2009

The much anticipated meeting between the Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and Kampung Buah Pala residents turned out to be a farce.

The villagers cried foul and walked out from the state secretariat in Komtar after the chief minister insisted that they could not be represented by their lawyer Darshan Singh Khaira at the proposed meeting at 11am.

hindraf kampung buah pala protest at penang kamtar 300609 darshan singh shouted at ng wei aikBukit Gelugor parliamentarian Karpal Singh had arranged the meeting to find an amicable solution to resolve the escalating crisis.

It's learnt that the villagers have already set the condition that they be represented by Darshan.

However, when some 20 villagers led by Kampung Buah Pala residents' association chairperson M Sugumaran arrived at Komtar's third floor at 10.30am, they were asked by Seri Delima assemblyperson RSN Rayer to accept the 'no lawyers' condition.

'No lawyers allowed'

Rayer also insisted that the villagers should be represented by five association committee members at the meeting with Lim.

When the villagers insisted that they wanted to be represented by lawyer Darshan Singh, Rayer refused to budge.

hindraf kampung buah pala protest at penang kamtar 300609 ng wei aik convincing protestor to moveThe villagers then walked out refusing to attend the meeting without their lawyer.

Association assistant secretary C Tharmaraj accused the chief minister of pulling off a political stunt to impress Penangites that he was working overtime to resolve the crisis.

"Why did he deny us our fundamental rights to have legal representation at the meeting?" he asked.

Rayer, however managed to persuade a village resident, one Saravanan, to accompany him to the meeting.

Despite vehement objections by the villagers, Saravanan heeded to Rayer's appeal and went to the chief minister's office at level 28.

However, what transpired in the meeting is still not known.

CM says lawyer was present

Later, talking to reporters, chief minister Lim claimed that the residents' 'lawyer' Cecil Rajendra was also present at the 'meeting'.

However this was immediately dismissed by Sugumaran who said that Rajendra was not their lawyer.

Sugumaran admitted that Rajendra had represented the villagers at the High Court level of their case against the developer. However they have subsequently engaged different lawyers to represent them at the two higher apex courts.

"It's funny to hear that the chief minister knows who our lawyer is but how could Lim claim that Rajendra represented us when he was not.

"We have now appointed Darshan Singh to represent us, not anyone else," said Sugumaran.

Their lawyer Darshan said that he was surprised that Rajendra was still acting as the residents' lawyer.

"This was done without the knowledge and authorisation of the villagers," he said.

State to file a court review

penang cm lim guan eng 290609In the CM's press conference, Lim said the state government was looking into invoking provisions under the National Land Code to stop the developer from demolishing the houses.

But he said the state government must first face the complication arising from the court order which was in favour of the developer.

Nusmetro Venture (P) Sdn Bhd had obtained a favourable Federal Court ruling on June 24 to evict the villagers. Based on this, the developer has issued writ of vacant possession on July 2 to the villagers.

Lim said the state government would have to study the legal repercussions of using the NLC provisions, adding that the state authorities will seek a High Court review on the matter.

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