GEORGE TOWN: Penang Deputy Chief Minister II Professor Dr P. Ramasamy says treachery and betrayal by Barisan Nasional, in particular MIC, caused the destruction of some 60 farms in Sungai Ichat, Cameron Highlands, today.
The DAP lawmaker accused MIC of deceiving the farmers.
If MIC had not convinced the gullible farmers of its good intentions to help them to solve their problems, he alleged, they would not have withdrawn a court injunction that had halted the eviction of the farms.
He said they could have gone for a lengthy trial and fought for themselves.
“The MIC spoilt it by accommodating closely with Umno and the Pahang state government.
“I would have hoped that the MIC and BN might have done something useful for the farmers, especially since both are in their twilight years.
“Rumours of the resignations of MIC members holding positions in the Pahang state government as a result of the demolitions are just acts to deceive the Indian community further,” he said.
In April, the state government had destroyed about 15 farms, mainly belonging to Chinese farmers, before protests put a stop to it.
In the immediate aftermath of the demolition, the farmers obtained a court injunction to prevent further destruction of the farms.
However, on Sept 30, the court injunction was withdrawn by the farmers after they were convinced by the MIC that the menteri besar was willing to give them land elsewhere.
Ramasamy said the withdrawal of the injunction paved the way for the enforcement units of the state government to evict the rest of the farms along Sungai Ichat, in Kuala Terla, Cameron Highlands, this morning. He said the reason given for the demolition of the farms was the issue of water pollution in Sungai Ichat.
“However, not far from this is Sungai Terla, which supplies water to the residents in Cameron Highlands.
“It is not Sungai Ichat that is polluted, but Sungai Terla. “This has been pointed out to the state government many times.
“But, why did the state government take more interest in demolishing the farms located near Sungai Ichat that were not the cause of water pollution, remains a mystery,” he added.
Ramasamy said the state government had not taken the initiative to address the real cause of water pollution in Sungai Terla.
“Upstream where some illegal farms are located no action has been forthcoming, even though these settlements are the ones which cause water pollution.
“If the farms located near Sungai Ichat were not the real cause of pollution, why was action taken against them.
“The farms were not illegal in the sense that they have been given temporary occupation licences for the past 60 years or so.
“Political calculation on the part of the BN Pahang state government cannot be ruled out.
“Most of the farmers were owned by supporters of the Pakatan Harapan government in general and DAP in particular,” he claimed.
Ramasamy also stressed that as long as the injunction was imposed, the state government could not have made a move on the matter.
He said there was fear that if the matter was taken to court, it was not certain that the state would win the case.
“But what transpired was not an amicable settlement by way of alternative farming sites, but demolition and expulsion of the farmers.
“Both the Pahang state government and the MIC misled and betrayed the farmers without any redeemable prospect of a new alternative.
“The Federal Government, which refused the services of the police and armed forces for the demolition exercise earlier, succumbed to the request of the state government,” he said.
This afternoon, Pahang State Secretary Datuk Seri Dr Sallehuddin Ishak had said that enforcement conducted by the state government to curb illegal encroachment into the Kuala Terla water catchment area in Cameron Highlands was done in compliance with the law.
He had said that action was taken to ensure environmental sustainability and safeguard the people’s interests.