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Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Going Against The Flow

An ideal world is one where everyone has what they need and nothing changes.

Sadly, this world is far from ideal.

Some people think Malaysia needs more development.

Others beg to differ. Antares, for one, says:

I wasn't born in Kg Buah Pala. In fact I didn't even know such a place existed. So I feel no special love for that piece of land and have no emotional roots there. However, I have grown extremely deep roots in my present location and am prepared to KILL to defend it against bulldozers and corporate pirates. Cranky, highrise apartments do NOT equal "progress." Indeed, "progress" is perhaps the stupidest and most dangerous word in the dictionary since it traps us in linear time inside our left brains.

No doubt the people of Kg Buah Pala have likewise grown deep roots to their village, having lived there for 5 generations.

Apparently, some of them are still cowherds til today. From various images I have gleaned over the internet, they even get their water from a well.

Now, I will humbly admit that this is a completely different lifestyle from what I'm used to.

The first time I ever saw a cow close-up, I got my friend to take a picture of us (cow and I).

I stood at a comfortable distance (just in case the cow developed a sudden hostility towards me and decided to butt me - or is it just bulls which do that?) and flashed my best smile.

Which reminds me, my friend still owes me those photos. But I digress.

Antares has an issue with the word 'progress'. I think if given a chance, he would prefer that those who live in their condos remain there and those who live in their villages be allowed to live peacefully - each in amicable understanding.

In fact, upon re-reading my original post, I think I was a little harsh when I said that Kg Buah Pala is a blight in the face of Penang. I had no right to say that.

But, I haven't changed my stance on Kg Buah Pala.

Perhaps we may be able to halt the demolition this time. But to what end? Will we buy every single village in this country and save them from developers?

Will we decide that new highways should not be built to ease traffic congestion?

Will we ban all foreigners from living in Kuala Lumpur?

And when I say 'foreigner', I'm not just referring to the Indonesians, Bangladeshis and Americans who have come to live here.

I also include all those who were born in another state and came to KL to find a job and earn a living.

If you are a foreigner, you are one of the reasons why KL experiences traffic congestion before and after office hours.

And as one of the natives who has had ancestors here for 6 generations, I don't particularly like having to share my space.

There's this new apartment being built across the road from my house. During construction, my house was covered in dust. But that's nothing compared to what will happen when the owners eventually move in.

A survey was carried out recently, and according to the findings, the average family in KL owns 2 cars. I can already imagine cars parked outside my gate in the evenings, blocking my entrance like it happens when someone in the neighbourhood throws a party.

But do I have a choice? Not really. As always, people will move to the city in search of better opportunities. More roads will be built. More condos will be built. More babies will be born.

So the squatters of Kg Buah Pala may protest the demolition of their houses. And they may rally others to assist them in going against the flow.

I sympathise. I really do.

But at some point, even Kg Buah Pala will have to make way for 'progress', whether you like it or not.

11 comments:

Patricia said...

The definition of 'progress' can be a bad word to some. And with it, the other 'ogre': development.

There are those who love the simple life - but do note how this life must now come equipped with electricity, clean drinking water, and the internet!

That's also progress, even if you live in a kampong, or a shack by the sea.

Yes, progress is inevitable. But it doesn't always need to be a bad word!

Crankster said...

Pat, that's my point, exactly. Perhaps the squatters at Kg Buah Pala are content to live in the barest of conditions.

But should they pick up typhoid or cholera from the well water, who should bear their medical costs? It would be the taxpayer eventually. Not to mention the risk of spreading disease.

The example above may be extreme, but my point is, change is not always a bad thing and sometimes, people need to realise it can be an opportunity for improvement.

If it is a genuine case of fraud, then evidence needs to be put forward and the Gerakan government needs to be taken to task.

But trying to buy over the land or merely make an exception this time is an exercise in futility because we sure as hell can never maintain all the villages in Malaysia, no matter how much their inhabitants love them.

walla said...

If they are illegal squatters on state land, then their recourse to generational settlement has no legal ground. Giving in will only encourage other illegal squatters to park in every open spot and claim right against eviction later. How does that differ from blackmail?

The second wrong was for the civil service cooperative to buy up that state land at special price and then sell it to the developer at grossly inflated price. Was it the right of the cooperative to buy it at special untendered price in the first place?

What's happening now is that all the worms are coming out of the woodwork to show how past BN component parties have been abusing their state powers. The opposition has to pick up the pieces, face the indifference of the BN culprits and try to solve something which requires funds that BN as federal is withholding from them just because they are the opposition. In the political crossfire, the rakyat suffer.

Out of this particular case, the squatters seem to have received two gifts they are not entitled to. One, free stay on state land over five generations; that's already not a bad deal. Two, unearned duress money upon leaving, and that's not a small sum. Additionally, no one seems to notice that the developer may be incorporating the sympathy money paid out into the price of the property that it will be selling soon.

Which means legal buyers of the new property are the ones who will be subsidizing the squatters relocation to their new and more hygienic homes.

Taken from any perspective, this seems downright wrong.

Yet there is another third wrong. It is that the government, federal and state, have not put their heads together to figure out proper and legal solutions to squatters. Knowing full well that urbanization is a given, they should have factored the need for housing for the urban poor. Parallel to that, they should have controlled better the illegal use of state land. As can be seen, closing one eye today will only push the problem to someone else tomorrow whose only resolution will be a clash between the common heart and the federal rule book in a political arena no one can afford to view.

Admittedly, there's something sentimental about the notion of growing one's roots and identifying one's familial lines with a particular place. It grows onto one, an old saying. But the world as we all know tends to overturn all comfort zones. What one desires to attach to the most will be detached the very next minute as though to deliver a biting lesson about life.

A rustic life?... to walk across the wooden floor of a book-lined room on the first floor and sit at a comfortable cane chair looking at the computer screen enabled by highspeed broadband with one hand touching the big green leaves of a tree whose branches embrace the balcony..and the other warmed by a hot coffee whose fragrance assails the pristine air cleaned by an afternoon shower of rain, leaving gems of dew as they glisten in the returning sun gently throwing cheerful shadows across the room...and then suddenly the mind floats to her, one hot momma waiting to have you for dinner.

shar101 said...

Hmmm .. anybody wanna take a shot at Kg Baru in KL?

Will be making a field trip next week to gauge if it's true that 'pendatangs dari seberang' have taken over the enclave.

Anonymous said...

are you guys that stupid ,look at exco minute and do a bit of research ,it's a crown trust .so the using the words illegal and squatters are wrong. anil has posted a legal document regarding helen brown and the government.makes me sick that people are trying to deny this.

Yes2ISA said...

PR supporters, go ahead and play politics if you need too.. after all, you are indeed POLITICIANS...

but while playing politics, make sure that you do not cross the line..

or u will be playing with fire

Crankster said...

Walla, you do have a good point about the right of the cooperative to buy it at special untendered price in the first place.

I personally believe that the Kg Buah Pala squatters/villagers/residents should be compensated properly. I am against throwing them out with no redress.

But I don't believe that they should own and have exclusive rights to that land. We can't even prove it belongs to them.

All three of your points were brilliant. I'm actually considering reproducing it in its totality.

Your ending threw me off guard. :)

Crankster said...

Shar, Kg Baru would be a minefield, I'd say. :) But I personally believe it should be reorganised. That part of town is chaotic.

-naga- said...

Yes2ISA, threatening uh?

romerz said...

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Crankster said...

Hi Romerz, I thought your blog was great too. :)

C