Perak farmers seek Putrajaya’s help with land issue

Dr Jeyakumar standing with memorandum.

PUTRAJAYA: A coalition of Perak farmers wants Putrajaya to intervene after the state government awarded to developers around 1,200ha of agricultural land the farmers had been working on since the 1950s.

Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) chairman Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj submitted a memorandum to the agriculture and food security ministry on behalf of the affected farmers at its headquarters here today.

Speaking to the media, Jeyakumar said the affected area involved farming land in Tanah Hitam-Changkat Kinding and Tanah Kantan-Kuala Kuang.

“Around 95% of the land had been awarded to developers to turn them into housing or industrial areas. So far, a piece of land spanning 500 acres (200ha) has been cleared and the farmers have been evicted,” he said, adding that about 300 farmers were affected.

Jeyakumar said it was a serious matter as the state government is destroying the nation’s food security.

The former Sungai Siput MP also brushed off arguments that the farmers were working on illegal land, saying that they had applied for the land for agricultural purposes since the 1960s but to no avail.

“It’s not like they didn’t apply for it. Applications were made in the 1960s but there was no reply from the government. After 60 years (of occupying the land), the government is now saying that the farmers have no documents, so who is to blame here?”

He lamented that not only was the farming land taken away from farmers, but it was given to developers instead of the poor people.

“We want the minister, Mohamad Sabu, to intervene,” he said.

On Oct 24, Jeyakumar was arrested by police along with two PSM members and a farmer in relation to a protest held at the Kanthan vegetable farm. The enforcement team also cleared the farmlands of all crops.