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6 Apr 2009

Cheer for railway land squatters

TAIPING: Perak has agreed to swap land with KTM Berhad and the Railway Asset Management Corporation to allow squatters in Kuala Sapetang to remain on the land.

Announcing the good news yesterday, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat said Mentri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abd Kadir had agreed to the suggestion after a meeting on Saturday evening.

Details on the land swap will be worked out later as the state would have to carry out a census to determine the number of residents and land area involved, he said.

A preliminary census carried out by KTMB last year showed that the move would benefit more than 300 families at Kuala Sapetang and Simpang Halt.

It was reported that most of the squatters were fishermen staying on land which has a railway track connecting Port Weld (now Kuala Sapetang) with Taiping.

Speaking to reporters after a walkabout in Kuala Sapetang to meet voters in conjunction with the Bukit Gantang by-election, Ong said negotiations for the land swap began in 2007.

“But the negotiations somehow got interrupted and no news has been heard since March 2008,” he said.

“I hope that our efforts, which were once interrupted, would now be put on the right track.”

To a question, Ong said the state would alienate an alternative piece of land within the state to KTMB and the corporation.

On whether the outcome of the Bukit Gantang by-election would affect the move, Ong, who is also MCA president, replied: “I am here to talk about railway track.”

He also said it was unfair for anyone to say that decisions made by the Barisan Nasional were merely aimed at wooing support for the upcoming by-elections.

Asked to comment whether the 1Malaysia concept and the release of 13 ISA detainees from Kamunting by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will have any effect on the by-elections tomorrow, he asked: “Why are we so obsessed with ballots?”

He said the Barisan hoped to win in all the three polls as the ruling coalition was striving to do its best for the people.

Source: The Star