PRESS STATEMENT 7 March 2013
I refer to recent reports in the Tamil media quoting T. Mohan MIC Youth Chief who suddenly appears to be trying to champion the Bukit Rajah estate workers. He appears to be asking the question “why 8 acres of land was returned to the developer and also “why not build 144 houses for 144 workers on the land instead of returning the 8 acres”.
These questions are actually irrelevant questions. They actually show his ignorance of the actual facts. There is no question of “returning the land” to the developer because the land belonged to the developer Sime Darby all the time. There is also no question of building houses for 144 workers because at all times only 76 workers were involved in the litigation with Sime Darby which I handled since 1993.
I now set out the facts from the beginning so that readers can draw their own conclusions.
From 1993 my law firm M/s Daim & Gamany has represented about 76 ex-estate workers from Bukit Rajah estate in their struggle against forced eviction by Sime Darby from the estate housing occupied by them. We must remember that at all times until today Sime Darby is a GLC controlled by the Federal government which T Mohan’s party MIC is part of.
Sime Darby terminated the workers in phases from April 1992. They then offered the ex-workers low cost five-storey walk-up flats for RM25,000. Many workers accepted the offer and moved out of their estate quarters. Some refused saying that they were promised single storey terrace houses NOT flats.
Sime Darby then initiated eviction proceedings in Klang Sessions Court against some of them in 1993. The workers asked me to defend them which I did. I managed to delay the inevitable eviction for many years.
Sime Darby then initiated further eviction proceedings against the workers in Shah Alam Sessions Court in 2005. Again my law firm defended them and delayed the eviction from taking place. In all this litigation I acted for about 76 workers and their families.
All this time, T Mohan’s party and their representatives in the Federal cabinet did nothing to stop the oppressive actions of Sime Darby. They were quite happy to see the homes of poor Indian estate workers bulldozed.
In 2007, Sime Darby started using more aggressive tactics and started demolishing empty houses to make the area uninhabitable to force the workers to move out. Tenaga and Syabas cut water and electricity. The area around the worker’s homes looked liked a war zone with debris and broken homes around.
Again T Mohan’s party and their representatives in the Federal cabinet did nothing to stop this oppression of poor Indian workers. Maybe they were completely helpless to do anything – I do not know. But the fact remains that nobody stopped Sime Darby.
Again the ex-workers came to see me and I filed another suit for them and got an injunction to stop these hostile actions to evict them.
All these litigation was done in the public interest and for minimal fees to defend poor estate workers from being unjustly evicted in breach of a promise of proper housing. Furthermore, Bukit Rajah is not the only group of estate workers I have defended – I have defended many others as well.
If the Pakatan Rakyat had not taken over Selangor in March 2008, I am sure that the final outcome would have been that all these poor workers estate homes would have been demolished with no certainty of alternative housing for the workers.
However after the change of government in Selangor, Sime Darby softened their stand and were prepared to negotiate. Dr Xavier in his capacity as a member of the State Executive Council facilitated the negotiations.
The negotiations concluded successfully.
The ex-workers agreed to accept the offer of a 20’ by 70’ single-story terrace house at the price of RM70,000 which when completed under the current schedule for early next year 2014 will be worth at least RM250,000.
The housing estate would also include a temple and a public hall. From the price and the value of the house, it is obvious that it was a good deal and why it was accepted by the ex-workers.
On 1st March 2009, letters of offer with details of design and specifications were accepted in writing by 76 workers. These 76 workers included one Mr Mathialakan who is also being quoted making false statements that the workers were promised to be given a 15 acre piece of land.
There was no promise by the Pakatan Selangor Government at any time to the ex-workers to give them a 15 acre piece of land. In the course of the negotiations a 15 acre piece of land belonging to Sime Darby was identified on which the houses were to be built.
The letters of offer dated 1st March 2009 ( also given in Tamil to the 76 ex-workers ) only speak of a 20’ by 70’ single storey terrace house in a housing estate. No worker including Mr Mathialakan raised a demand for a 15 acre piece of land then. This was because there had never been such a demand even from them. The worker’s demand right from the beginning was for single storey terrace houses which they finally secured. It was on this basis that we fought the litigation all the way from 1993.
The housing estate for the 76 houses and temple and the hall only required about half of the 15 acre piece of Sime Darby land to be used. It is for Sime Darby as the land owner to decide how to use the balance.
T. Mohan needs to learn more about how government works. He does not seem to understand that it is his party MIC and UMNO who can direct Sime Darby as a Federal controlled GLC what to do with the remaining 8 acres of the land. The Selangor government has no control over Sime Darby. He should direct his demands to the Prime Minister and to the leaders of his own party MIC.
I do not know where T Mohan is getting his figure of 144 workers and 144 houses from. I only acted for 76 ex-workers and their families and have secured for them these houses at the price of RM 70,000. But if ex-workers who had accepted Sime Darby’s offers between 1993 and 2008 and moved into low-cost walk-up flats for RM25,000, and NOW are not being instigated to demand a single storey terrace house for RM 70,000 like the 76 houses, that would not be right.
These 76 ex-workers and their families fought Sime Darby in court from 1993 until today. They endured great hardship inflicted on them by the current BN-UMNO-MIC government. Only these 76 families deserve the new houses.
The question T Mohan should ask his own party leaders and his BN coalition is why these 76 Bukit Rajah families were oppressed from 1993 to 2008 by them instead of pretending that this history of oppression does not exist.