The third-generation farmers question alleged discrepancy in issuance of permits among different parties to operate on the land.
CAMERON HIGHLANDS: Several farmers from Blue Valley here are seeking a meeting with Pahang Menteri Besar Adnan Yaakob over their decades-long bid to obtain land permits from the state for their farms and homes.
Claiming that he has been trying to avoid them, they said they had been operating on state-owned land for three generations but had not been granted any permit.
They said certain owners had been given approval to operate there while the others had not, and questioned the discrepancies in the state’s decisions on the matter.
R Vellu Samy, 63, said his father had moved there in the 1970s thinking it was estate land and started growing crops.
“I followed my father and started working here when I was 14, and continued helping him until he died of cancer when I was 19 and I took over the farm,” he told FMT.
He said the land office told them in 1976 that they had no right over the land and that it belonged to the state.
“They told us to apply for the land and that’s what we’ve been doing since 1976,” he said in an interview here. Also present was Cameron Highlands PSM secretary Suresh Balasubramaniam.
Suresh asked why some farmers had been granted land rights while others were denied.
“It would be very helpful if the menteri besar can enlighten us on what these farmers did to be granted the land rights,” he said.
He said PSM and the farmers attempted unsuccessfully several times to get an appointment with the menteri besar from 2008 to 2012.
Several of them then went to his office in 2012 and refused to move until he agreed to set an appointment.
“There were 26 adults, including four PSM members and five children,” he said. “At 4pm the police came and arrested us. The children were released except for one child who was still a baby then and couldn’t be separated from the mother.”
He said some of the farmers were granted ownership soon afterwards.
“In June this year they again gave land ownership to another four farmers and in September they agreed to an appointment to meet the others on Oct 3. But the office postponed that appointment and it seems now that it will be postponed indefinitely,” he said.
Tanesvaran Manoharan, 20, a third-generation farmer who is helping his father, said they were being hampered from developing the land properly without the necessary permit.
“They also won’t grant us use of third-phase electricity which means we don’t have enough to power our machines,” he said.
Single-phase electricity allows 240 volts while third-phase allows 415 volts. There is no second phase.
Tanesvaran also said some farmers who had obtained land ownership were bullying those who had not.
“They will eat into our farms and threaten to destroy our crops,” he said.
Suresh said outsiders often think of Cameron Highlands only as a holiday destination.
“But there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes, and many issues that other people are not aware of and that do not get much media coverage because we are so deep inside,” he said.