Eviction of Farmers in Padang Tembak
20 October 2015
Padang Tembak is located some 5 kilometers north of Sg Siput town. There are approximately 70 acres of vacant government land adjacent to this police shooting range. Several small farmers have been using this land for the past 10 to 20 years – vegetables, fruits, cattle and fish rearing. In April 2015 the 10 farmers were served with Notices from the Land Office asking them to vacate their farms within 2 weeks or else face the penalty of a RM 10,000 fine or a jail sentence of 1 year or both! There was no prior warning or discussion with the farmers regarding alternative sites. (This is the norm. At this point in time, PSM is handling 24 farming groups in Perak who are facing eviction.)
Letters by the farmers to the Assistant District Officer and by their Member of Parliament to the Menteri Besar did not yield any positive results. We then decided to file a Judicial Review arguing:
a. That even though the State Government has the right to allocate government land for development, the Government should have given the farmers due notice so that they could phase themselves out.
b. The State Government should have, in the interest of Food Security for the Nation, advised and assisted the small farmers in finding alternative sites to continue their farming or animal husbandry.
c. Alternatively the State Government should have considered using the Land Acquisition Act to acquire several acres of land from the large plantation companies which own more than 15,000
acres of land in Sg Siput District.
This case was filed at the Taiping High Court in July 2015 with Dato Ambiga Sreenevasan as our Counsel. The AG Chambers have indicated that they wish to contest Leave. The Hearing for Leave Application has yet to be fixed.