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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

'Balik Pulau needs land reforms, not 'political' statements'



The people of "overdeveloped" Balik Pulau need land reforms, and not any more statements made by politicians for their own gain, former PKR lawmaker Yusmadi Yusoff says.
"What is happening these days is that the locals in Balik Pulau are being accused of being squatters on their own land.
"These are the same people who went to the same school or mosque with me, but now they are squatters," lamented the lawyer, who served as a one-term MP for Balik Pulau, between 2008 and 2013.
He has initiated a taskforce to assist villagers affected by eviction.
Yusmadi, while concurring with statements by Dr Hilmi Yahya (BN-Balik Pulau) and Dr Tan Seng Giaw (DAP-Kepong) that the town is "less green" than before, said that instead of mere statements, what the people of Balik Pulau urgently need is commitment from both sides of the political divide to ensure overdevelopment does not deprive the townsfolk of their homes.
Hilmi had blamed "massive, unplanned development by the DAP-led state government" for the matter and claimed that BN had preserved the area as the green lung of the state when it ruled Penang, while Tan has also said that Balik Pulau was less green than before.
Yusmadi told Malaysiakini that MPs from BN and Pakatan Harapan should initiate a law reform movement in Parliament to recognise the cultural or customary approach to development in places like Balik Pulau.
He said the forceful eviction of locals can happen in any country or state, not just in Balik Pulau, due to poor land rights laws.
Yusmadi said the threat of overdevelopment in Balik Pulau had begun in the 1980s when BN was in power.

"The development there started with good intentions, to build affordable housing.
"But when good intentions were not implemented, development fell into the hands of cronies, where most of the projects had to be sold off," he said, adding that the owners of land and developers continued to change hands as plots of land were sold off for profit, resulting in the current predicament.
Yusmadi claimed the original developers of the villages could not deliver the promised affordable units, even though most of them were federal government agencies.- Mkini

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