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Bulldozers to demolish Malaysian Indian village

Bulldozers to demolish Malaysian Indian village

Bulldozers moved in Thursday to demolish a village of ethnic Indian cowherds to make way for a condominium complex, raising tensions in a confrontation that has focused attention on the lack of traditional land rights in Malaysia.
A police barricade separated scores of slogan-chanting villagers from the demolition team in a tense standoff in Buah Pala village, political blogger and journalist Anil Netto wrote on his blog.
A court bailiff posted a demolition order on one of the houses, Netto wrote from Penang, the northern resort island where the village is located.
Indian activists and police officials at the scene were not immediately available for comment.
It was not clear whether the demolition would start Thursday.
Some 300 residents of Buah Pala were told to vacate their homes after the government sold the land in 2005 to a cooperative of state government workers to build condominiums.
Malaysia's top court ruled in June that the villagers must vacate the land without compensation. Villagers say officials should have consulted them before selling the land where their ancestors have lived since the 1850s. But they never formally owned the land, highlighting the lack of clear land rights for traditional communities.
"The demolition team marched into the village followed by the two bulldozers. A crowd of chanting villagers goes up close and eyeballs them. A police barricade separates the two sides. About a hundred (police) Light Strike Force personnel are at the scene," Netto wrote on his blog.
Some villagers brought out mounds of cow dung in an apparent threat to hurl it at the demolition team.
The villagers earlier this month refused the cooperative's offer to provide them with new houses elsewhere, saying they also want other compensation. Some argue their village has immense cultural value because it is their oldest remaining settlement in Penang state.
Cooperative chairman Abdul Razak Mansor has said the court-sanctioned demolition will go ahead even though the villagers have appealed to the Federal Court to review its decision. Their application is set to be heard Friday.
Ethnic Indians comprise about 8 percent of Malaysia's 27 million people and are among the country's poorest citizens.
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On the Net:
http://anilnetto.com/


Updated : 2021-04-19 04:08 GMT+08:00