IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Malaysia ethnic Indians give up fight for village

Ethnic Indian villagers gave up a high-profile struggle Monday to prevent Malaysian condominium developers from razing their homes, but one grief-stricken woman tried to set herself on fire as bulldozers moved in.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Ethnic Indian villagers gave up a high-profile struggle Monday to prevent Malaysian condominium developers from razing their homes, but one grief-stricken woman tried to set herself on fire as bulldozers moved in.

The fate of Buah Pala Village has been a focal point for minority ethnic Indians, who are among the country's poorest citizens and say politicians ignore them.

Activists say it also exposes Malaysia's lack of clear traditional land rights, saying the northern Penang state government should have consulted villagers before selling the land in 2005.

Malaysia's top court ordered the residents to leave because they do not formally own the land, though they say their ancestors have lived there for generations.

Demolition workers with sledgehammers and bulldozers, with more than 100 police present, began tearing down more than a dozen remaining homes Monday after a deadline to move out expired, said a village leader, M. Sugumaran.

Witnesses said a 60-year-old woman, R. Indrani, poured kerosene over part of her body and lit a match in a threat to set herself on fire. Family members stopped her.

"I've lived here all my life," The Star newspaper's Web site quoted the woman as saying.

District police chief Azam Abdul Hamid confirmed the woman tried to set herself on fire. He said the demolition would be completed this week. Some villagers have agreed to accept the property developer's offer of new homes elsewhere.

Ethnic Indians comprise 8 percent of Malaysia's 28 million people.

___

Associated Press writer Sean Yoong contributed to this report.