Translated by WINNIE CHOOI
Sin Chew Daily
BIDOR, Perak -- Several years ago, the Perak state government awarded 1,200 acres of land between Kampung Baru Bidor Stesyen and Kampung Baru Tanah Mas to the state economic development corporation for development into Bidor New Town.
The development plans were unveiled but residents of both villages were concerned about losing their livelihoods since they had depended on the land for farming for generations.
The villagers hoped the development could bring them a better future, but not at the expanse of their livelihoods.
Local leaders voiced up their views and offered suggestions for the development of Bidor New Town.
Kampung Baru Bidor Stesyen village committee chairman, MCA branch chairman cum SRJK Ping Ming board chairman Guo Chun Xiang told Sin Chew Daily although a piece of land had been set aside for farming purposes under the development blueprint, it would not be enough for allocation to all villagers.
"In the event the villagers' farmlands are taken back, I hope proper arrangements could be made, probably like in Kuala Bikam and Kampung Baru Coldstream where the farmlands are legalised through leasing agreements for the farmers' long-term protection."
Chairman of the Goddess of Mercy Temple council at Kampung Baru Bidor Stesyen, SRJK Ping Ming vice chairman, MCA member cum village committee treasurer Lin Sook An said the blueprint showed the core development of Bidor New Town which included shophouses, residential and industrial precincts, while a piece of land near Tanah Mas new village has been set aside for agriculture.
"The authorities have wanted to develop the township in 20 to 30 years but this is not going to be easy."
"Firstly, we have enough supply of shophouses in Bidor town centre and many commercial units in the fringe areas are still vacant. Meanwhile, the annual school enrolment statistics show that young people prefer to work in larger towns and cities, and it wouldn't be easy to develop housing projects further away from the highway. In addition, a light industrial estate developed years ago is still largely unoccupied today. Attractive perks must be provided in order to develop the industrial project, or the New Town project would be reduced to nothing more than an empty talk."
A school board director of SRJK Ping Ming Kampung Baru Bidor Stesyen, MCA branch secretary cum village committee secretary Zheng Yong Xiong told Sin Chew Daily, most villagers rely on farming for living. Among the crops are sweet potato, turnip, ladyfinger, cucumber and guava, most of which are sent to KL, Johor Bahru, Ipoh, Penang or Singapore.
"Although many university graduates prefer to work in big cities, some have chosen to come back in recent years having weighed the advantages of farming over a nine-to-five job in the city.
"If the authorities decide to take back the farmlands, it would deal a major blow on the aspiring young farmers."
Across the rail line from station
Kampung Baru Bidor Stesyen was established during the declaration of Emergency in 1948 by the colonial government. The earliest 30 households settled down at 4km, Jalan Teluk Intan.
The village derived its name from the fact that the village entrance was just across the rail line from the station.
There are 200 households with 1,500 people now living in the village, mostly Hakkas and Hokkiens. The Hakka and Cantonese dialects are widely spoken here besides Mandarin Chinese.
SRJK Ping Ming was established more than 60 years ago. With young people moving to the cities in droves, the school only has 81 students and 11 teachers today.
The Goddess of Mercy Temple was built in 1969. The temple council would hire artistes to perform during the annual celebration of the Goddess of Mercy Festival.
A basketball court is the only sports facility available in the village.
During the 1960s, residents of Kampung Baru Bidor Stesyen, Tanah Mas and Coldstream started growing their crops on disused tin mines, turning Bidor into one of the major fruit and vegetable growing areas in the state.