On 27 May, 2012, some 300 residents of Kampung Sungai Kapal braved the rain to protest against the impending RAPID petrochemical project. The project, touted to be even bigger than Kertih, will begin in 2016.
The protest was organised by several NGOs such as the Johor Yellow Flame, Johor People’s Action Group and several political parties and they called themselves the Gabungan NGO Pengerang.
A self-employed trader in fish products Wahid bin Maarof, expressed with vehemence that the government should not grab the land and burial grounds given to his ancesters since the days before Merdeka. He was unhappy that the authorities concerned continued to ignore a memorandum sent three times to the Prime Minister’s Department.
He is active as a committee member of Persatuan Anak Pengerang. He said that it was ironic that Haji Sulaiman whose land was given by Tun Razak, now has that same piece of land taken by his son. Many others are suffering the same fate.
Postman of Pengerang, Hassan bin Yusum, when asked why his hands were trembling, said he had been on sick leave for two months yet he braved the rain because he did not want to see Kampung Sungai Kapal disappear. He has been delivering letters to this area for five years.
Captain Asnal too of Kampung Sungai Kapal, complained about the deteriorating standards of living. He used the proton car as an example saying the price of the car has shot up so much but the quality had gone down.
When Citizen Journalists Malaysia (CJMY) spoke to several NGO representatives, one of whom was the Assistant Chairman of Johor Yellow Flame Alan King said that on 2 June, several prominent photographers would shoot scenes of the area.
“Later, by mid June, 12 artists from the Singapore Water Colour Association including prominent local artists such as Tan Shu Qiay and Khoo Ai Choo would capture scenes of Pengerang before they are lost to posterity.
“The exhibition would take place in July in a gallery on Jalan Tan Hiok Ngee”. He said this was one way the locals could preserve their memories of the place.
Chairperson of Taman Molek DAP, Marcus Siew, was also there to show his support. He felt the authorities, in the name of development, did not care about the loss of land, schools, temples, mosques, burial grounds and culture.
The outspoken pengetua of the madrasah, Abdul Hafiz, is a member of the organsing committee. He came with his mother Awabi Zainal Abidin and claimed that the people who allegedly stole their land was UMNO.
It rained dog and cats during part of the afternoon and yet Rohani Ismail and her five children were undeterred. Squeezing under one umbrella, she told CJMY that she was there because her husband worked in the area even though they were from Kulaijaya. She supported the rally because the government allegedly wanted to steal the people’s land.
Anand Ang, 73 who lives in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, was there to support the cause of the Pengerang folks. He said he loved his country but in recent years, things have gone from bad to worse. He was staying two nights in a hotel in Sungai Rengit. The next day, he planned to join in the Hindraf gathering in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur.
Other stories on the protest against RAPID Project in Pengerang: