The Government Must Stop Evictions

By Raveen Veerasenan Jeyakumar
Photo: Pixabay

All state governments must stop evicting ordinary citizens from the land on which they’re living, growing crops, or raising livestock.

One group very important to our country that has been facing eviction for a very long time is small farmers. Based on history, these small farmers have been working on their land since before World War II. Usually for eviction cases, the land used by these small farmers is first alienated to a GLC, and later, sold to private developers for housing or industrial projects. The small farmers are required to vacate the land, and are rarely offered suitable replacement land.

In Malaysia, about 25% of the total land area, or 8 million hectares, is used for agriculture. Of that amount, more than 80% of land is used for commodity crops (e.g. oil palm and rubber). Only 0.4 million of the 8 million hectares is used for production of vegetables, fruits, freshwater fish and dairy products.

In addition, Malaysia has a high dependence on foreign countries for food, with a yearly import value of about RM60 billion. We’re still very dependent on Thailand, Vietnam and India for our rice supply. Most of our dairy products are also imported. Our local production of beef is only about 22%, mutton 14% and milk 60%. If a major problem occurs whereby our currency’s value significantly depreciates, or the climate crisis significantly worsens, the prices of our imported food will rise dramatically and our country will face a serious food shortage, potentially resulting in a crisis. As such, it cannot be denied that our country’s current food security status is weak.

Taking into account all the above factors, the ongoing evictions by state governments and companies of small farmers who produce food don’t make sense at all, given that it will certainly worsen our food security status. It also adversely affects the source of income of most of the small farmers and livestock rearers, regardless of their race, thus deteriorating the local economies.

In addition, there are many cases of eviction of small farmers where they were willing to pay rent to the government earlier on, but the Land Office refused to approve their applications. Instead, the Land Office gave land ownership rights to parties who had never worked on that land. Therefore, allegations that these small farmers want to use the land for free and refuse to pay rent, is clearly not true at all.

Evictions also have adverse effects on urban squatters and settlers from the B20 group who have occupied the land for a long time. They do not have the financial resources to move and rent low-cost houses elsewhere, and therefore, are forced to occupy that land.

These ongoing evictions clearly reveal the true intentions of certain politicians and bureaucrats in state governments who are more concerned with the interests and greed of certain developers and companies for profit than the socioeconomic statuses and livelihood of ordinary people, especially the B40 group. The federal government together with the state governments need to change their political mind-set and implement systemic reforms at the state and federal levels immediately to stop evictions, such as:

  1. Immediately stopping all evictions of farmers. 
  2. Maintaining areas that are being worked on for growing vegetables, fish rearing or cattle rearing, as food production areas and not be alienated to any party for any development project. The Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for all state governments in Malaysia related to land alienation must be amended in order to protect small farmers who are working on the land. Any development projects should instead be carried out on abandoned land.
  3. 3. Leasing existing farm land for a period of 10-20 years to small farmers, with the condition that the land can only be used to produce food and cannot be converted to palm oil plantations. This includes land that has been alienated to developers, but is still being worked on by small farmers and livestock rearers.
  4. Amending laws such the National Land Code and the Land Acquisition Act in order to recognize and legalize urban squatters and settlers who’ve occupied the land for more than 20 years, by providing them land ownership at reasonable prices, upgrading their basic surrounding infrastructure and essential services, and providing them with low-interest small loans to make repairs and upgrade their houses.
  5. Amending land laws to create a check-and-balance mechanism to ensure that the government’s land assets are not “liquidated” simply to gain political funds or for the self-interests of those in power. State-level committees with veto powers must be established in order to stop land alienation if it affects poor communities including small farmers and livestock rearers.

The federal and state governments must take holistic measures such as the above immediately in order to stop evictions and responsibly protect our B40 and marginalised communities.


Full Name: Raveen Veerasenan Jeyakumar

Author Description:  Raveen Jeyakumar is a writer who’s passionate about social and environmental issues, whose work can be found at

Address: No 2A, Jalan Sitiawan, Lim Gardens, 30100 Ipoh, Perak

H/P No: 017-5100036


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Ipoh Echo

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