Monday, April 28, 2008

Perak to check if eviction of 53 farmers was fair


IPOH: The state will investigate if a decision by the previous Perak government to evict 53 farmers, who have to make way for a quarry and cement factory at the Malim Nawar new village, had been fair.

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin said the state government would have to first check if there were elements of "injustice" in the decision to evict the farmers who had been toiling there for some 30 years.

"We will look into whether we could set aside the decision of the previous government," Nizar said Monday after meeting some of the farmers at his office at the State Secretariat Building here.

"If there were elements of 'injustice' in the decision, we will cancel it," he added.

He said state executive council (exco) member Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi, in charge of agriculture, would study the matter for discussion at the next exco meeting.

Nizar reassured the worried farmers that the state government would discuss the matter with the relevant parties and in the meantime, the farmers can continue to work there.

Malim Nawar assemblyman Keshvinder Singh, who led the entourage of farmers to meet Nizar, said the 53 farmers, of whom 40 are freshwater fish rearers and the rest vegetable cultivators, received a notice to vacate the land on April 17.

"We managed to stop the tractor on that day when it came to bulldoze the land. Fortunately the workers agreed to hold on for a while until we sort out the matter with the state government," he said.

He added that he was puzzled how the land could have been awarded to the company when the farmers were working on it.

Farmer Hon Eng Kee, who attended the meeting, said he was happy that Nizar had reassured them that the government would look into the matter.

"We depend on the land for our livelihood but now we are being evicted," he added.

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