Penang govt a victim of federal laws, says Guan Eng

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GEORGE TOWN: Pakatan Rakyat-led Penang is a “victim” of federal laws on land use and development, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said, in defending his administration from claims of being “pro-developers”.

He said the state government had done much to help residents facing eviction from their village lands by providing legal aid and through new state policies, but some landowners who had close links to the Barisan Nasional (BN) insisted on using court orders and the National Land Code to evict squatters.

“They just want to exercise their powers in court to remove squatters. The state government is powerless when these BN-friendly landowners, armed with a court order, forcibly evict squatters because the Pakatan state government is bound to respect and obey the rule of law,” Guan Eng said in a press statement yesterday.

Guan Eng, who is also DAP secretary-general, said the state could only hope the people could see through the deceit.

He said the Pakatan government has made policy changes, refusing to grant development orders until squatter issues were resolved. When BN ruled the state, he noted, development orders were approved while squatters were still living on the land.

“Armed with the development orders, some developers then moved in ruthlessly and mercilessly to forcibly remove the squatters.

“Instead, the Pakatan government ignored the protests of developers by deciding on a more people-centric approach in refusing to give any development orders where there are squatters still residing on the land.

“Development orders will only be considered on land that is empty. This has generally facilitated discussions between developers and squatters to find an amicable solution that is fair and reasonable to both parties.”

Some 25 traditional settlements are said to be threatened with eviction, including Pepper Estate in Tanjung Bungah, Kampung Perda in Teluk Bahang, Kampung Mutiara and Kampung Chetty in Batu Ferringhi, Kampung Tanjung Bungah, Kampung Pokok Asam, Kampung Batu Uban and Kampung Binjai in Bayan Lepas, and Kampung Tok Subuh in Seberang Perai. — by Looi Sue-Chern/The Malaysian Insider

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 16, 2014.