KUALA LUMPUR, June 12:
After walking for the past 12 days from Johor to Kuala Lumpur, the “Kembara ke KL” group finally handed their memorandum protesting against a non-Muslim grave relocation effort in Pengerang, Johor.
The relocation of the graves is being carried out to make way for multi-billion ringgit projects on an area covering 8,000ha in Pengerang.
The projects include the construction of the Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex (PIPC), which will house storage facilities, oil refineries, petrochemical plants and a LNG Regassification Facility.
The second mega-project within PIPC is Petronas’ RM60 billion Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (Rapid) Project.
Two days ago, it was reported that the relocation of five non-Muslim cemeteries in Pengerang had proceeded smoothly, with the appointed contractor having exhumed 436 bodies up till Monday. This was according to Kota Tinggi district officer Mohd Noorazam Osman.
The contractor, Pengerang Memorial Sdn Bhd (PMSB), resumed work on June 6, with completion scheduled for end of August.
The contractor had earlier suspended work due to some confusion over a suit brought to the Johor Baru High Court on May 26, which purportedly resulted in an interim order to stop work.
“We hope Petronas can give a quick and satisfactory answer over this
“The graves are just a small portion… why must they take that, too?,” the group’s leader, Chua Peng Sian, 49, asked during a press conference after handing the memorandum to Petronas representatives.
Chua said that the group was not against the project, but found it offensive and insensitive for Petronas to continue clearing the graves where their ancestors were laid to rest.
The farmer from Pengerang claimed that Petronas had selected a consultant last year in September to engage with the locals in the area, adding that he had reminded them at the time not to touch the graves.
“The consultant told us that Petronas will give us an answer on the issue soon, but it is almost a year now and we are still waiting for a reply.”
Chua said the area for the graves was only about 40ha, making up only 0.6% of the project grounds.
“Why can’t it be left alone? I hope that Petronas, as an international company, can act more responsibly and respect our request.
“I hope that its CEO (chief executive officer) can be more humane in this matter,” Chua said to applause from the group’s volunteers and onlookers.
Earlier today, Chua stopped by Parliament to present his case to lawmakers with the hope that they would either cancel the project or at least put it on hold.
Wearing in a purple batik shirt that he had to borrow from DAP Member of Parliament Er Teck Hwa, of Bakri, after initially being prevented from entering as he was not dressed appropriately, Chua was seen speaking to Teluk Intan Member of Parliament Datuk Mah Siew Keong.
Chua was not impressed with the newly-minted MP as he said: “He didn’t dare answer.”
While his walk may be over, Chua now needs to focus on nursing a cough, which he caught on the sixth day after being drenched by rain.
“I want to go home and relax.”