Monday, July 13, 2009

Truth in land matters

Source: KJ John, 7 July 2009, Malaysiakini

Something is fundamentally and foundationally wrong in this nation when the descendents who have lived in a place for more than 200 years have no right to their 'ancestral home grounds' and are chased away under the force of the local government officials and the police based on a whimsical Federal Court ruling.

Surely there is an already existing methodology and due process to defend, preserve and protect such lands and grounds under our rule of law.

Even more assuredly, there must be some clauses under the Land Acquisition Act which allows the legal authorities to acquire this land and return it to the rightful tenants?

Such "national interest" cannot any more merely be defined by the government of the day, as in days past! It must now become a matter of THE public interest that the same tenants had their TOL rejected for the pecuniary interest of some non-resident selected parties and their cronies.

It is now a matter completely of truth and righteousness and no more merely an issue or mere technical legality of the proper stewardship of the said land lot.

Unlike the Falklands issue or the Timor Leste break away from Indonesia this is not an issue of over-arching sovereignty claims by different nations, and supported by yet other powers.

This is a case well within the jurisdiction and knowledge of all related authorities; whether federal or state or local government, and whether of the old or new governments.

The Federal Constitution has enough laws to protect and preserve the interests of these victims. What is needed is political will to govern right.

There have been too many cases of such theft of "private ancestral land" all in the name of 'development' for all the rest of us ordinary Malaysians to keep quiet and go about doing our own things as if these issues did not matter to us at all.

The Federation of Malaya is only 52 years old and I do not see how the laws of this minor period can override the five generational occupation, ownership and stewardship of these ancestral lands in favour of another group of people.

It is incidental to me that these happen to be people of a particular ethnic heritage; the more important fact is that their ancestral land is under threat and it is the responsibility of every other Malaysian to defend their rights and privileges as "simple and ordinary Malaysians".

We all have rights to defend our land and property.

A simple four way test

Of course I am talking about what is now popularized as the High Chaparral land case at Kampung Buah Pala.

kg buah pala 020709 developer representativesBut, first I must admit that I was initially negligent in fully understanding the historicity of the case, when I first read about it.

I thought it was one of those cases of squatters trying to take advantage of developers to gain maximum mileage after free land usage after some years.

It was only this week, after the current Penang chief minister was accused of going back on his word that I began to take more interest in the matter.

And thanks to the Internet and all media; it is now obvious to me that this is another application of greed is good theology using legal and legitimate means to acquire something that is not theirs by unfair and foul means.

There must be total and complete transparency as in the PKFZ case for us to understand the full ramifications and the real actors and their agenda.

The Rotarians have a simple four way test to determine whether anything is right or wrong. I am not a Rotarian but have been mixing enough with them to know their simple and easy to use guideline.

Their four way test is:

1. Is it the TRUTH?

2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?


4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Allow me to use their test in to review the matter of this land grab.

Is it the truth that these poor settlers whose forefathers were settled from 200 years ago were only TOL holders?

Why? Therefore, were the actions of the former state government good, right and fair to all concerned?

Will their actions build goodwill and better friendships? Can the former state government take land from 'Paul and give it to Peter', without just cause or purpose?

It can only be good, right and fair to the perpetrators of the land grab but definitely not to the victims of the land loss.

Why are one party rewarded for their land grab and the other denied? Are they not all citizens of the same nation and State?

Criminal offence against humanity

hindraf kampung buah pala protest at dap hq petaling jaya 300609 05Finally, allow me to reflect another perspective toward such five generational land occupation and ownership, even if technically under the Temporary Occupation License.

I wrote recently on spiritual ontology. Most of this generation of Malaysians can live and enjoy the privilege of three generational lives because there is peace and continuity in one's life and one's family and circumstances.

My generation of siblings, for example, did not grow up knowing our grandparents, as my parents were migrants and travelling was not as easy as now.

Our children however have the wonderful privilege of knowing grandparents on both sides even if one set is some distance away.

Three generational life and living encourages what I have called spiritual experience of maturity.

Therefore for instance one can learn to grow old gracefully passing through all three stages of dependence, independence and interdependence and the final return to dependence. This cycle of maturity changes ones perspective of time and seasons.

Time is not anymore only kronos time but also kairos time. Kairos time is the ability to see time from yet another perspective; the time and seasons in one's life or what is sometimes called vertical time or cyclical time.

Kronos time or chronological time needs no explanation as this is the only time most of us do know. Too often though this known time gets shorter and shorter and one gets into a perspective of greed and material acquisition regardless of costs.

How else can we explain why a state government would collude with the perpetrators of a crime with unnecessary overtures of enabling the theft of the public lands wherein is located another group of equally qualified citizens?

They were not playing Robin Hood either. No, this is not a criminal offence against a state but it surely is a criminal offence against humanity and the rights of others in living a life of ordinary citizenship.

Therefore, like in the Subang Ria Park case, my appeal is to the Penang Chief Minister is to please exercise his political discretion and refer this case to the National Land Council and allow the federal government and their guilty allies to "own up for their demeanour and wrong-doing".

Too much of such land-grab theft has taken place and it is time for ordinary citizens to say "let us put a stop to such public theft".

Alternatively, I would urge civil society groups to seriously consider taking this matter up as a public interest case law and test the efficacy of such "daylight theft of public lands in the name of various and dubious misapplied policy goals".

May God grant us enough grace to tolerate all this public stealing.

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