Thursday, July 11, 2013

Arrest of 2 worker leaders - when police became tool of the capitalist - S.Arutchelvan

The blatant arrest of 2 worker leaders from Ladang Bangi
When Police became the tool of Capitalist by S.Arutchelvan

Kajang, July 10, 2013
This morning two key leaders of the Ladang Bangi struggle – Krishan – the Chairperson and Rajan the Treasurer were arrested by the D7 team from the Kajang police station. Both these leaders were picked up from their home and their workplace respectively. D7 is a team in charge of secret society. The arrest took place around 11.30am. The police initially tricked them by saying that they are needed to record a statement. Later they were told that they are being arrested.

Why were this two key leaders were picked up ? Krishnan and Rajan are the top two leaders of Ladang Bangi, a plantation estate just a kilometre away from the old Bangi town in Selangor. These two leaders lead 24 other plantation families in fighting for a house after they were retrenched from work in May 2000. Though there is a Selangor State Government policy that no estate workers must be evicted from their estate homes until they are provided with an alternate permanent houses, yet after 13 years from being retrenched, they still face eviction and still continue to fight for a home.

After eviction notice was served in 2000, the dispute went to the Labour Court.  In 2002, the Labour court awarded the plantation workers their retrenchment benefits and rejected the Plantation company (I&P) request that they must be evicted from their homes if they wanted the retrenchment money.  The plantation company was unhappy and went on to appeal the case in the High Court but in 2006, once again the workers won when the High Court agreed with the Labour Court decision.

The retrenchment benefit they got was small and hardly enough for a family to get going. Most workers after working around 20 years, just obtained around RM10 thousand as compensation. After four generation toiling the fields, the capitalist now decides to sell the land for more profit while they workers are left to rot. This is why some describe the plantation workers as sucked oranges.

With the plantation owner defeat in the High Court and a General election coming, the MIC brokered a meeting attended by the Local authorities as well as the State Government. The meeting held in August 2006, instructed the plantation company to built 43 units of houses for the plantation workers as well as ensure the workers have a temple at their housing estate.

This was the only promise on houses and yet this promise was not kept and after the election in 2008, the workers were shocked to find that their estate land has been sold to a private property developer – Transloyal Development Sdn. Bhd.  Transloyal now the new owner of the land called the four generation plantation workers as squatters and illegals. It is amazing how the estate owner managed to escape from his responsibility in building houses.

The Developer refuse to built houses but agreed to pay some compensation. They harassed the workers by bringing thugs to demolish empty houses, the wanted to clear the rubber trees surrounding the estate so that dust and flooding can ultimately evict the people. The estate houses are located in a low land while the trees are at the upper level. They tried to bribe some leaders and used UMNO and MIC local leaders to help them evict the workers. The developer faced resistance. His tactics of throwing some cash is not picking up.

The workers fought hard. With the help of PSM and JERIT, they organised themselves. They held meetings regularly. The lodged many police report against the developer. Stopped the developer’s work near their homes, send protest letter to SUHAKAM and held night patrols’ to ensure safety. Many meetings were also held at the now Pakatan Rakyat controlled state Government including meeting at the Local Council MPKj. 

The PR Selangor State Government and its exco in 2009 declared that if the developer does not built houses for the workers then the Company will not be given permission to develop the piece of land where the current estate houses are located. The MPkj also denied the Company permission and only allowed them to construct a detention pond to control flooding. Transloyal were given 3 months to build the detention pond starting from 1 August 2012 but they have yet to start any work till today.

While the company continued to play lip service with the State Government and the MPkj that they plan to built houses but behind their back on October last year, they filed a case at the Shah Alam High Court for vacant possession. The case never took off as at every court dates, both parties agreed to postpone the case pending a settlement outside court. On 22 April this year, the Shah Alam High Court gave a shocking decision allowing the Company’s request for vacant possession on a mention date. The workers appealed again this blatant order given on a mention date without even a day of hearing. The workers successfully obtained a stay order on July 1 this year.

If the decision of the court was bizarre, more surprises were developing. It is still puzzling how  the developer can get an eviction order on a mention date. It is also puzzling that the developer can continue to ignore the State Government decision. How come the developer is so powerful? Is it the power of money?

In spite of the workers getting the stay order, in spite of MPKj not allowing developer to do work 100 meters from the estate houses and in spite of the State Government order, the Transloyal company continue to encroach the estate land and continue to cut trees. They had totally no respect nor fear.

In the last one week, there were three incidents when he workers successfully stopped the developers work. In all these occasion, the police were present and there were no untoward incidents. The developer also threatened that they will demolish the homes and even said that he will steamroll over the workers who stop his work. The ex workers including elderly women and their children faced the bulldozers, the developer and sometimes his thugs. Guarding the surrounding trees was becoming a daily routine in the last one week.

The developer was getting very impatience with the local police as they felt that the police did not want to take action. This morning  suddenly the police took action. They arrested 2 key leaders and were very adamant to remand them. They were arrested for criminal intimidation. In spite of dozens of similar reports against the developer, yet no developer was arrested till to date.

This morning when we pressured the police, we were told that the arrest were made on the orders of the Selangor State police - IPK. Many policemen in Kajang conceded to me that this arrest is the work of instruction from IPk. They also said that the developer has a strong cable and they have used their connection to make this arrest. Initially the OCPD said that his hands are tied and he will remand them as this was the IPK call.

The developer has now got the police working for them. Initially they used gangsters and the courts and now they have utilised the police. This is class struggle between the rich and the poor. Many lower rank policemen were very sympathetic with the plight of the workers. Some said that they don’t believe the” two uncles”  did anything wrong.     

The arrest today puts the struggle to a new height. It seems that the developer has now got the police working on their side.

The plantation community of Bangi estate started to gather at the Kajang police station. They did not have kind words for the police. They questioned how come their many reports had no weight. The workers then started to carry placard. The police came to stop them but were told that the entire estate community is prepared to be arrested.

They workers were ready and wanted to stay put in the police station until their leaders are released. PSM and JERIT activist stood by the oppressed workers. Wathyamoorthy the new Deputy Minister also came by to lend support.

The workers lodged 40 police report against this unlawful and blatant arrest. The arrest was unjust and was merely done to appease the capitalist. The police were definitely on the take. It is sad that the Kajang police had to do the dirty job because of the instruction from IPK. It is a reality that the police force can be bought by the rich and powerful.

A vigil was planned for the night and mobilisation was starting to take place. We declared to Kajang District Chief that we will stay here until they are released.his is the first day of Ramadan and what a day it has been for the Kajang police station.  The police Chief who initially talked about remand, started to now say that he will do his best. He was also dumbfounded when questioned why no developer was arrested in spite of reports against them. 

Suddenly 15 minutes after that, the 2 worker leaders were released. It was small victory for the  people and a setback for the capitalist. Both leaders were released and the loud applause was heard . Krishnan said that the developer may have money power and we have people power. Let’s see who wins. Rajan the other released leader said that he is ready to stop the bulldozer again. Many other workers agreed that the fight is still on. Today we go back with a victory and tomorrow we will continue to fight on till we have a home. The Struggle continues........



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