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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Broken promise: Ladang Siliau low cost houses


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This article from Free Malaysia Today: BN does number on estate workers... again will be the second of the series of compilation of BN sins and the first for Broken Promises:

BN does number on estate workers... again'

THU, 22 JUL 2010 06:06
By B Nantha Kumar and G Vinod

Protests by workers of Ladang Siliau over BN broken promise

FMT EXCLUSIVE LUKUT: Workers at Siliau Estate, near here, are angry with the Barisan Nasional for being fork-tongued in its pledges.

During the Bagan Pinang by-election last year, the BN government had promised to build as many as 150 low-cost houses under its Hardcore Poor Development Project (PPRT). The houses were to be sold to the estate workers.

But less than a year later, BN went back on its word saying that it had never promised to sell them the PPRT houses but merely pledged to rent them to the workers.

During a recent visit to the estate, FMT discovered that few, if any, knew that the PPRT houses were not for sale.

Said K Chandra, 42, a palm oil harvester: “I don’t know anything about this. They did not tell us that the houses were for us to rent. They told us we could buy them.”

Chandran, however, did not seem surprised at BN’s about-turn on the election promise.

“I am not shocked or upset. We all heard BN promise to sell us the houses. If it does not fulfil its promise, our votes won’t go to BN anymore,” he said.

He said there were now 30 families in the estate. The rest had left and were working outside.

"But we are still close and keep in touch with each another. So it's not easy to break the Siliau estate population for political purposes," he smiles.

He also said the estate people were not staunch BN supporters and had only given BN a chance in the by-election to see if it would keep its promises.

“If BN fails to fulfil its promise, more than 400 voters will turn to Pakatan Rakyat,” he said, adding that most of the estate workers had sent their applications and documents to buy the PPRT houses by the end of this February.

“We filled up the forms and attached the necessary documents. The MIC branch chairman himself collected the forms from us,” said Chandran.

Unfair deal

Another harvester, C Puspavalli, said it was not right that the BN “change its words” now that it had won the by-election.

“I am very disappointed because once the BN said it wants to sell the houses to us, now it wants us to rent. This is not fair at all.

"During the Bagan Pinang by-election, MIC promised that the houses would be sold to us.

“After the BN won the election, the local MIC chief met us and gave us several forms to fill so that we could buy the house.

“But he did not collect back the forms although he stayed only two rows in front of my house," she said.

A mistake

MIC secretary-general and state MIC leader T Rajagopalu could not be reached for comment.

However, Negri Sembilan exco member and MIC's elected representaive VS Mohan, when contacted, said the Housing and Local Government Ministry made a mistake in announcing that the houses were not for sale.

"We have already informed the ministry and brought the matter up to Negri Sembilan Menteri Besar Mohamad Hassan.

“There was a mistake… normally PPRT houses are only for rent and not for sale but the Ladang Silau PPRT project is an exception, which the Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin himself had announced.

“So, I feel the estate workers need not worry or be concerned about the matter,” he said, adding that he will meet the estate workers soon to explain the situation.

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