Stop all harassment of displaced estate workers

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I again urge Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to place a moratorium on actions against displaced estate workers till a just and win-win solution can be worked out.

Yesterday, Kalyani, 60, one of the displaced estate workers involved in the stand-off between Sime Darby Property and 25 families, died as a result of the stress and trauma caused by that stand-off.

Sime Darby Property, the owner and development arm of the former employer and a government-linked company, tried to evict Kalyani from her home of several decades and demolish it.

The standoff lasted several hours between the 25 families and Sime Darby Property. The planned demolition was to clear the houses of the 25 families of the former estate workers and the temple in their community for property development that would yield hundreds of millions of ringgit in revenue and profits for Sime Darby.

Forcing eviction by demolition of people's houses is not the substance of good governance. Governance is for all the people - not just the propertied ones. Everywhere, these actions are taken on behalf of the propertied against the most vulnerable.

Development, progress and peace should be balanced and for all, not just for the propertied with collusion from the various arms of the government.

Here are some salient points about this episode. These evictions have heavy human costs, in some cases causing even deaths, as in Kalyani's case here or in Murugan's case in Kampung Buah Pala.

This is a nationwide phenomenon. You hear about these sporadically, but they have occurred and continue to occur all over the country and have been going on for well over 40 years. And it largely relates to former Indian plantation workers.

This is no coincidence. This is the result of the totally unbalanced development policies of the government over this period. Unknowing and ignorant politicians and vested interests ask: why is this problem always with these Indians?

When the Indian plantation worker loses his job, he does not only lose his job, he loses everything - he loses his home, his temple, his school, his neighbours and his social system. His life is torn asunder.

And as they are thrown out, as in so many cases all over the country, they are fed a pittance and cleared out.

It is with a keen understanding of these problems and with an attitude of enough is enough that Persatuan Hindraf Malaysia came out with the Blueprint, which is a set of comprehensive and permanent solutions to these endemic problems and took the bold decision to participate in the BN government to create the necessary understanding, empathy and political will to solve this problem.

It is obvious after three months into the decision that it will take a while more before these plans in the Blueprint are put into operation.

In the meantime, we just cannot continue with these mindless and symptom-focused, unsustainable and costly actions.

The human costs of these problems to the nation manifest in many ways - deaths like that of Kalyani and Murugan and in the wanton police shootings.

Increasing anger among the affected estate worker communities in specific and among the populace in general, intensifying hatred of the authority, increasing polarisation among the different ethnic groups because of the ethnic dimensions of the problems are some of these human costs.

Our urgings to stop these actions will go on in the public domain as well as within those closed doors of government, with increasing pitch, till the causes for these problems are effectively addressed and the problems are resolved in a permanent and comprehensive manner.

N GANESAN is national adviser to Persatuan Hindraf Malaysia.

Homes are to fulfill terms of pact with NUPW


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