Prelude: Sometime back when I visited AL of Harakah at his house in Ampang, we got into a conversation about land-grabbing in Selangor by a certain elected official in a high position. This officer, one we shall call Toyol for his dastardly treacherous acts, is a sleek politician with greed knowing no bounds. In short, this is how he would do it:
Being a high official, Toyol would identify the lands which he could swing his way. Once identified, he would instruct a Company Secretary-friend to provide him an off-the-shelf-company for Toyol to award the land to. Now, like most off-the-shelf companies, if not all, the directors named there are only temporary and usually those working for the Company Secretary. These honest and loyal workers know their names are being used to set up the company, but they know nothing else after that. In fact, their bosses would make sure these 'directors' sign an undated resignation latter. This is an act to facilitate the transfer of company's ownership. Nothing sinister there.
But what these people do, or rather, did not know, is that Toyol awarded several pieces of prime land to companies such as these! After a 'cooling-off' period of about 2 years, Toyol would then instruct the Company Secretary-friend to effect the transfer of company ownership to a new set of names provided. The former 'directors' were kept in the blind, until AL did some investigation. But by then, nothing could be done. And Malaysia being what it is, no matter how many police or ACA reports one makes, nothing came out of them.
Some of the lands grabbed, include the settlements marked as 'tanah teroka' or 'pioneered land'. What this was supposed to mean, is that the pioneers of such land would be given titles to the land they occupy. But if you noticed, I used the word 'supposed'. For in truth, these people had their land grabbed by Toyol.
This, is part of the story for Kampung Rimba Jaya, Kampung Berembang, and several more 'squatter' colonies in Selangor.
When I read the news about Kampung Rimba Jaya on the eve of 27 October, the first thing that came to my mind were the scene of Kampung Berembang when it was demolished earlier this year. Then, pictures of the residents - including women and children - vehement stand against the local authorities flooded my mind like nightmarish scenes of native American's stand against Custer's charge at Little Bighorn, and the slaughter of Palestinian in many refugee camps, mainly Shabra and Shatilla; have we come to that?
Though I was not present at Kampung Berembang, I literally cried reading about their plight. And when I read about Kampung Rimba Jaya, I vowed to stand by them.
The morning of October 27, I drove straight towards Padang Jawa, Shah Alam, and straight into a small lane hemmed in between 2 blocks of wooden shop houses. As I drove in deeper, the lane became narrower allowing the passage of a single car only. This, I asked myself, is the promised development in Klang Valley that has been extolled world over?
For a village that is about to face the wrecking-balls of the local authority, I was amazed at the calmness in which the villagers moved about. There were no frantic scenes I had imagined the night before, though many villagers were seen packing their belongings into their transportations. I noticed too, several people were on or about several houses. They, I was informed later, were contract workers engaged by the villagers to dismantle their house, plank by plank, and zinc by zinc. Rather than watch their property heartlessly demolished, the villagers were trying to salvage what little they could.
I parked the car on a cement flooring of what perhaps could have been the floor of a house or shed, with some of its wooden walls still standing, then walked towards a group of men who were busy dismantling a house. Though I was wearing my webtv8 vest, I introduced myself as from Lajnah Kebajikan Pusat, the parent organisation for Kelab Kami Perihatin. Alhamdulillah, the introduction put them at ease and I was soon informed of the situation, which I relayed back to Dr L.
The villagers had decided to abandon all hopes for Kampung Rimba Jaya. Though they once won a court decision, it had since been overturned by higher courts and the villagers have no other recourse to turn to. As such, most of the villagers have decided to move out, leaving several families who were still adamant about their rights having lived there for close to 40 years! But their brave stand was to no avail as the local authorities - to me - are akin to the brutalities against the Palestinians (click here for full story).
As the roads to Kampung Rimba Jaya was cordoned off, sympathisers had to park their car a distance away and walk in. I am ashamed to admit that I was not able to. Nursing a bad ankle and a text message from Raja Petra Kamaruddin had me going down to KL. At noon, the message read, the controversial Director of Commercial Crime, a Dato' Ramli, will be giving an explosive press conference. But Wak and I were late and missed the scoop. The PC however, we were told by other journalists, was not what they had expected.
Back to Kampung Rimba Jaya, Alhamdulillah, with the grace of Allah s.w.t., the local representatives of Lajnah Kebajikan were able to find some accommodation for several families, and a small warehouse for the villagers to store their belongings. But this is only a temporary measure as Lajnah Kebajikan - both pusat and local - are hard strapped for cash.
To anyone reading this and my prior entry, I had promised to write about the conversations I had with several of the villagers. InsyAllah, I will fulfill this promise so that you, as a reader, may know the truth about the plight of Kampung Rimba Jaya residents, and not judge them based on the lopsided reporting of mainstream media in Malaysia.