IPOH, July 27 — The Perak government has offered to rent out land belonging to the State Agriculture Development Corporation (PPPNP) to seven farmers from Chemor, after the state-owned land on which they have long toiled, were awarded to the Perak football team.
The farmers who received a 14-day eviction notice dated July 5 had on Thursday handed over a letter to Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu, seeking his help to intervene in this matter.
The Mentri Besar’s Office in a statement said that the government has no intention to take action on the encroachers despite occupying the state land without paying any revenue for more than 50 years.
“According to State Land and Mines Office record, a series of discussions were held with the farmers. An initial understanding was agreed, before the notice was issued to them.
“The illegal farmers were offered to rent land in a new location at Tanah Hitam, Chemor. The land was in the process of being transferred from the state government to PPPNP,” the statement read.
The statement also said that the 14-day notice given to the illegal farmers is a standard procedure for giving them time and space to prepare to clear the land.
“The move is also part of the state government’s effort to resolve encroachments in the land owned by the state and government-linked companies (GLCs), which have been going on for decades.
“The government is committed in solving illegal encroachments and squatter problem, but at the same time will help small scale farmers to continue their farming activities in a legitimate way by renting out the state and GLC’s land at a very affordable rate,” the statement further read.
On Thursday, PSM chairman Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj, who represented the seven farmers, told reporters that those affected are small scale farmers who occupy a small piece of land measuring between 0.81 hectares and 2.02 hectares each.
Dr Jeyakumar said that the government should consider giving the farmers a temporary grant or licence to occupy the land as they are not big scale or commercial farmers and are merely cultivating to make ends meet.
On May 3, Ahmad Faizal awarded the said land to 39 Perak footballers and officials for winning the Malaysia Cup final last year against Terengganu.
The statement also pointed out that encroachments into more than 24,000 hectares of land belonging to the state and GLCs has affected the government’s plans to undertake development projects, build affordable housing, economic activities and efforts to bring investors to Perak.
“Subsequently, the government has set up a special committee earlier this year to resolve the problem of squatters and the illegal occupation of government lands, with the main focus of enforcement action on illegal ‘corporate’ encroachers,” the statement added.