For the past few months, the story of once little known Kampung Buah Pala on the island of Penang and its inhabitants have seem to be the only talk of the island.
Also popularly known as 'Tamil High Chaparral' to Penangites due to its traditional population of cowherds, this old settlement is located at the heart of the rapidly developing eastern part of Georgetown.
The plight of the Kampung Buah Pala villagers hit the headlines recently after they received a court order to vacate their old village of which three generations have lived to make way for a modern condominium.
Local historians claim the village had existed for more than 150 years. It was part of a large coconut plantation owned by the family of a Margaret Brown.
Certainly there seems to be a document testifying that Margaret Brown had stated before leaving for Britain that the land is to be left to the people who were living and working there. This was in 19XX. The current residents are believed to be descendents of the original settlers.
Because of this bit of history, there are parties who are pushing for Kampung Buah Pala to be gazette as heritage property. It’s perhaps the only way to save this village from certain disappearance.
Malaysiakini visited the village to document for posterity a peace of history that is about to be wiped out in one fell swoop.
We were expecting to see a large settlement of 300 villagers, in 33 houses with 50 or more families living harmoniously in a highly cultured village because it was referred to as a model Tamil Hindu settlement, with a traditional population of cowherds and many other essences of Tamil heritage.
But we were disappointed. There wasn’t even an ‘old’ Hindu temple central to a Tamil settlement.
Kampung Buah Pala in reality is a stretch of road lined by less than 30 houses standing next to modern residential properties.
The hey-day of a bustling coconut plantation population has certainly left Kampung Buah Pala many, many years ago.
Produced by Indrani Kopal
Narration by Nick Josh Karean
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