Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Pig in a Poke

High Chaparral, the pig abattoir, the race card, double standards…. What you see is not what you get. It seems as if many politicians – and I use that term to also include some activists – have gotten all hot under the collar about the DAP’s failings in the Kampung Buah Pala and for locking horns with PAS on the pig abattoir matter in Kedah.

Get a grip people. First, Hindraf and Uthayakumar needs to cool-off; perhaps have some refreshing chendol and think through the High Chaparral matter a bit more constructively. Does he really think Lim Guan Eng is in bed with the developers? For a lawyer, he must know better the potential implications of a breach of contract – in this case, a contract the former state government – had undertaken - under the former chief minister’s watch. Yes, perhaps a stroke of the pen by the current chief minister may save the homes of the residents of Kampung Buah Pala. But at what cost to the rest of the residents of the state? Now that the current DAP state government finds itself in a dilemma like this, does it not matter what it might cost the rest of the residents of Penang to go back on their word?

As I’m sure we all – including Hindraf and Uthayakumar – surely understand, the former state government under Gerakan/BN was supposedly acting on behalf of the welfare and interest of the state when it undertook the agreement the developers. This is where Gerakan has put the residents of Kampung Buah Pala and the people of Penang. No, unlike what some might like to think, it doesn’t just take a stroke of the pen, to undo the BN’s mess. Indeed, Uthayakumar ought to know better. If he’s worried about the marginalised Indians in Kampung Buah Pala – as is understandable – just imagine the legal and financial bind a stroke of the pen by the current chief minister to undo the agreement with the developer may cost the state government. The multi-millions that this will cost the people of the state will inevitably impact lots of other marginialised people who again will have to endure the consequences of further depletion of the state’s resources.

Am I suggesting the residents of Kampung Buah Pala should therefore just become sacrificial pigs? No. They’ll have to accept the reality that the former Gerakan/BN state government did them in. And they have to be willing now to work with Lim Guan Eng and find a solution that can be a win-win situation for them, the developers (who now have a legal stake in the property), and the rest of Penangites who also have a big stake in the matter.

Probably much like the hullabaloo about the pig abattoir controversy in Kedah, what you see about the Kampung Buah Pala is not all that simple and straight forward as some would make it out to be.

So, Hindraf, here's my advise to you: Have some chedol, sit down with your one hope - the DAP and Lim Guam Eng - and find a compromise where the residents can be reasonably compensated and relocated while the rest of Penangites are also not unduly screwed by your intransigence due to a situation created by the DAP's predecessor.

G. Krishnan