Last month, a villager from Kampung DBI in Buntong died from a snake-bite. Things would have been different if the Perak Mentri Besar had been more responsive to the people, writes Rani Rasiah.
That Mentris Besar lie or twist facts is nothing new or unknown, and it is said that they do so to survive, meaning hold on to their position. But one would think that someone like Zambry Abd Kadir, who got the Perak Mentri Besarship by foul means, would be at his honest best, trying to impress the Perak electorate that he is not such a bad guy after all. Indeed that is what the mainstream media or BN mouthpieces have been striving hard to do ever since he took over.
Last month one lie of the MB got exposed when the inaction and lackadaisical attitude of his government contributed to the death of a villager by snake bite in Kg DBI in Buntong.
Kg DBI which was part of a 37-acre plot of land owned (still owned I think) by the Ipoh City Council has been neglected for the past 13 years since the City Council decided to develop its land. The Council hit a snag when it tried to evict the villagers without offering them alternative housing, and since then there has been a stalemate. Despite promises of alternative housing by every MB since 1999, nothing concrete has been done to resettle the villagers.
During this lengthy period there has been total neglect of the large area around the villagers’ homes which has resulted in a proliferation of snakes.
In August 2009, MB Zambri was quoted by Bernama as saying that people who have lived up to ten years on government land will automatically qualify for grants. The people of Kg DBI have lived there since before independence, in tiny one-room quarters, doing the most unappreciated of duties for the lowliest wages. Upon retirement, having no savings and resources, they built wooden houses behind their former quarters and continued living there with the tacit approval of the Council then. Surely they qualified for the automatic grants the MB was talking about.
In January 2010, MB Zambry visited an urban pioneer village where the villagers were facing eviction by their private landowner. Here he lamented that had the land been owned by the government, they would have settled the housing problem long ago.
This was the kind of MB people needed. Unfortunately he turned out to be a slick liar. No one in his establishment is aware of his policy of automatic grants. He himself prefers not to discuss his promises and public announcements. For the past almost one year there have been no attempts by the MB to resolve the people’s housing woes and the threat to their lives caused by the snakes menace.
And so a life was needlessly lost. Things would have been different had the Perak MB been responsive to the people, and walked the talk.
Rani Rasiah, an Aliran member, is coordinator of the Oppressed People’s Network