KUALA LUMPUR: Farmers from Perak are pleading with the federal and state governments to halt all land eviction measures in the state in order to preserve their livelihoods.
In a peaceful gathering on Tuesday (Sept 12), some 50 individuals comprising both farmers and Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) members marched from Tugu Negara to the gates of Parliament to voice their plight.
A memorandum was also handed over by the gathering’s organisers to the political secretary of Agriculture and Food Security Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Sabu and an officer from the Prime Minister’s Department.
Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman and Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim were also on hand to receive the memorandum from the farmers.
In the memorandum, the Perak Farmers Coalition asked Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to cease all land eviction activities in Kanthan, Tanah Hitam and Changkat Kinding for the time being.
It also requested Anwar to work with the Perak state government to form a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate the role these lands play towards ensuring Malaysia’s food security and whether the farmers could continue occupying these lands through the Land Acquisition Act where developers are given alternative lands.
Chemor Modern Farmers’ Association chairman Tan Tean Chee said the group came in peace and to let the government know of their predicament.
“Our generations began working on these lands since the 1920s. The government has remained silent on this issue. When the price of crops increase, there are complaints saying the farmers intentionally increased the prices.
“In reality, from my father’s time (as a farmer) to mine, we have never had a say in the price of crops.
“Infrastructure developments can be made anywhere but agricultural crops especially are different, and the lands in Perak are very suitable for this,” he said during the gathering.
Tan also called for the Perak state government to move infrastructure development to other areas and allow farmers to continue working on their current lands.
“Repeal licences given to developers and let the farmers use the lands,” he added.
PSM chairman Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj said the government could use the Land Acquisition Act to resolve the issue.
“In the national interest, we can use this. We’re not here to make trouble,” he said.
Protest organiser, Lawan Lapar, also called for the government to implement new systems and expand existing systems of gazetting food-producing lands.
This system, they said, should be implemented through the acquisition of state land by the federal government.
Lawan Lapar is a movement aimed at ensuring food security in Malaysia by empowering food producing communities and increasing awareness of the importance of food security and the rights of food producing communities in every corner of Malaysia.
Lawan Lapar also urged the federal government to reform existing land laws in Malaysia, specifically to extend the maximum duration of Temporary Occupation Licence (TOL) from one to five years.
“A subsidy system must be created by the federal government to encourage state governments to preserve agricultural lands which directly contributes to our food supply,” it said in a statement.