Saturday, August 10, 2013

2000 acres land for Tamil schools in Perak: New MAIKA HOLDINGS in the making?

Media Statement by M. Kula Segaran, MP for Ipoh Barat and DAP National Vice Chairman in Ipoh on 10th August 2013

2000 acres land for Tamil schools in Perak: New MAIKA HOLDINGS in the making? 

One of the directors of a newly formed foundation called Perak Indian Education Development Foundation has advanced payment amounting RM 60,938 to Perak Government as land tax and premium for the 2000 acres of land which the state had earlier alienated for the 134 Tamil schools in Perak.

It has been reported that the composition of the Board will be announced at its first Board meeting by the Menteri Besar of Perak after the Hari Raya holidays. The land is slated to be developed by National Land Finance Cooperative Society (NLFS) under a joint agreement with the newly minted foundation.

This has raised many eyebrows on some pertinent issues.

• As per the existing rules, a foundation has to have a minimum of RM 1 million before it can be registered as an official body.
• Who has forwarded this amount of money into this foundation?
• Will the land be registered under the name of the foundation or under the names of individual directors?
• Was the RM 60,938 for the land advanced by MIC or Dato Veerasingam himself? (It has to be noted that the Perak Chinese school board representing 9 independent schools paid a premium of only one ringgit for a similar land offer by the state government in 2008). 

The public has the right to know the details of the dealings especially so when it involves the state land meant for the educational needs of the poor Indians in the state.

To complicate and contradict the issue further, former state speaker and current MIC state Chief Dato Ganesan played naïve and claimed of no knowledge on the new foundation.

Further, he stressed that the land should not leave the grip of MIC as it was MIC that got the land in the first place.

The arrogance and choice of words exhibited by Ganesan sends a strong message that only   MIC and no other body is capable of looking after the educational needs of the Indians in the state. This kind of e mentality on the part of MIC leadership is highly deplorable especially so when almost all the business ventures undertaken by MIC have gone sour with millions of ringgit lost, like MAIKA Holdings , MIED, Koperasi Pekerja Jaya (KPJ) , to name a few.

I strongly feel that the 2000 acres of land should be rightfully alienated to a body that truly represents the interest of all Tamils schools in the state.

In 2008, many arrows were shot at PR government which was ruling the state then on why no land was alienated to aid Tamil schools when the same was done for Chinese Independent schools and sekolah agama.

Unlike the Chinese Schools, the Tamil schools then did not have an umbrella body to represent the Tamil Schools, thus the alienation could not take place.

However, the PR state government led by former Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Nizar agreed in principle to give 2000 acres of land to Tamil schools which will later be registered under a body once it is formed.

However due to change of government this did not materialize and the rest is history.

When Barisan Nasional took over the state government, the land matter was brought up by MIC and the BN state government alienated 2000 acres of land to Tamils schools.

The land, however as per Datuk Veerasingam was to be temporarily (till now)  parked under Yayasan Perak, a statutory body under the state government until such time a proper body to represent the Tamils in Perak is set up.

Association of Perak Tamil Schools Board of Governors (APETS), representing the Board of Governors arising from all schools and districts in Perak, was registered on 23.2.2012 under ex Senator Dato Marimuthu Nadesan to accommodate the requirement of state government to take care of the 2000 acres.

Its members consist of senior members of society, academicians, professional who were selected through a stringent process and are directly involved in the welfare of Tamil schools by being the heads of Board of Governors in their respective schools. However, Dato Veera who was initially receptive to the idea of APETS changed his stand and wanted to set up a new body to take over the land.  

Now through a press statement in a Tamil Daily, he says that the Menteri Besar of Perak will announce his new board members after Raya holidays.

As anticipated the obvious has happened, Veera had gathered his cronies and formed a new foundation comprising of people past 70 years to lead the venture.

In what capacity is Veera planning to take over the 2000 acres land?

He is no more the MIC state chief and has been removed as the special advisor to Perak Menteri Besar. The position as state MIC is currently held by Dato Ganesan who should be the right person to make announcements on matters relating to the 2000 acres land.  

Is Veera the right person to head the foundation? Or can we assume that 2000 acres is a “gift” by the Menteri Besar for his” memorable and dedicated “services to the Indian community during his tenure as the head of Perak MIC?

Why should a new foundation be formed when there is already one in like APETS?

If not for malicious intention of hijacking the land to fulfill his vested interest, what else could have been the motive behind this new set up?

Why did he renege on his words of surrendering the land to APETS, one that is similar to the Independent Chinese Schools?

There is allegation that a serving Tamil School headmaster is also on board which clearly indicates a conflict of interest if it is true. A commercial enterprise will have no place for a civil servant when there is a likelihood of making decisions in conflict of his position as Head Master  and a director of  a company when  allocations are planned for schools.

I opine that the Perak Menteri Besar has also been wrongly advised on this matter as he should have dwelled deeply before recommending the land for Veera. The Menteri Besar will inevitably be implicated in this dubious dealing as he is the head of land matters in the state and it does not bode well for him.

MIC has recorded a string of failures in its business ventures in the past three decades, and individuals like Dato Veera and others were part of the people responsible for all the debacles. Yet the same person is trying to set up a new venture at the expense of the Indian students’ future in the state.

What is the assurance that this will not end up as another fiasco similar to MAIKA Holdings?  

I call on the MIC President, Datuk Sri G.Palanivel to personally interfere and put a stop to this nonsense and make sure that a body like APETS is given a prominent role in managing the 2,000 acres of land.  This will at least help to prop up the ever damaging image of MIC in the eyes of public.

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