Pengerang: Durian farmers ill at ease

A crowd of estimated eight thousand people turned up yesterday for the Himpunan Hijau: Lestari Pengerang rally to protest against the purported daylight robbery which has been undertaken by the government.

All the groups that were present be they local NGOs, NGOs from outside Pengerang and political groups were introduced to the crowd.

Among them was a group whose land had been forcefully reclaimed by the government.

Tiong Kee Tien, about to be evacuated from his durian farm.

Citizen Journalists Malaysia (CJMY) spoke to Tiong Kee Tien, 65 originally from Segamat.

He allegedly obtained a 30-year lease from the government to plant 31 acres of mostly durian and some mango trees. The lease has about 12 more years to go but claims that he has been ordered by the government to leave his land.

He has been asked to complete a Borang H and at a meeting with the authority, was verbally told he would be compensated RM1000 per acre. Nothing was given in writing.

Whether his answer is a “yes” or “no”, he has to leave on 19 October 2012.

Tiong is obviously very upset. He said had invested RM200,000 on the land. He has 300 durian trees and each tree can bear 500 fruits. He has the best quality durian fruit which he sells for RM 18 per kilo.

His income is about RM 27,000 per year from his durians which started fruiting only 10 years ago. For all that, he may get RM300,000.

He blamed the government for being so unfair and never think of the rakyat.

He said he failed to understand how the government could offer him only RM 1000 per acre.

Loh Sok Noi - farms without the use of commercial fertilizers.

Another farmer the CJMY spoke to was Loh Sok Noi, 62. Her parents came from China but she was born in Malaysia.

She says that the entire place is so beautiful. She uses well water which is clean and pure and as does not use commercial fertilizer for her 11 acres of durian trees.

If the RAPID project comes on-stream, she expect toxins in the water and air.

Her lease was for 50 years and she is adamant that she will not move. Her fruits are all organically fertilised and her durian is of the mountain variety.

She has not received any money. She knows her name has been written on some document.

There has been no negotiation; she has no news of what is happening. According to Loh, the entire project is not transparent. CJMY then spoke to a student who was there to support the cause.

Lee Jiao Xin - wishes that her playground will be retained.

Lee Jioa Xin, 16 and a student at Foon Yew High School. She hopes to study medicine or pharmacy.

Asked what was so special about the Pengerang, she said she has many nostalgic memories of the town.

She hopes the project can be stopped as it is her playground.

Even though she lives in JB, during the school holidays, she comes here to stay with two aunts.

If project chases her aunts away from Pengerang, they may have to live in town and there would be pollution. Her second time at a rally, she was excited to see such a big crowd today and the support from so many people all over the country, some from as far as Perlis and Sabah.