KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: The Association for Welfare, Community and Dialogue (Acid) condemns the action of the authorities in evicting farmers in Kanthan, Perak who were growing various food crops serving the local market.
On 24 October six farmers were forcefully evicted ahead of the impending destruction of farmland, including the cultivated crops.
This area comes under the Tambun constituency, where Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim is the MP.
According to reports, there had been an understanding between the Perak State Development Corporation (PKNP) and the farmers.
The farmers were willing to cooperate and move to a suitable alternative site, but this has not worked out. Instead, the farmers faced eviction under Section 425 of the National Land Code.
Malaysia currently suffers from high food inflation. A responsible state government would have searched for solutions to resolve issues related to land ownership with the objective of enhancing food security.
Three elements of injustice need to be highlighted in this issue.
First, in 1989 100 farmers in the Kanthan area applied for temporary licences at the Kinta land office.
They were refused, and this has a bearing on their identity as farmers on the land where cultivation can be traced back to the World War Two era, even before PKNP was established.
Second, since PKNP claims the land, the farmers should have been given at least alternative land suitable for farming, which was not done.
Third, the Perak state government has deliberately ignored the most basic aspects of fair governance in looking for a win-win solution that not only meets the development responsibilities of the state but also ensures food security by empowering farmers.
The mishandling of the crisis clearly shows that the previous and current Perak state governments have a poor sense of justice and lack depth in understanding issues such as food security.
One is also surprised by the conspicuous silence from reformasi-preaching PKR and the so-called socialist-rooted DAP in the state government – whose deafening silence is for all to witness. They should have at least convinced the chief minister to work on a win-win solution on this issue.
Therefore, Acid urges the Perak state government to restore some sense of justice in its governance and understand that food security is closely linked to the nation’s security.