Saturday, June 14, 2008

Know your state rep: Squatters depending on him to secure land titles - NST

MALIM NAWAR: Jun 14, 2008 By Jaspal Singh

Malim Nawar state assemblyman Keshvinder Singh wants to set up associations and clubs for youths.

The odds may have been against Keshvinder Singh in the general election but he proved his detractors wrong by winning the Malim Nawar state seat.

The 37-year-old father of two who joined DAP in April 2005 was seen as a political greenhorn with little chance of taking over the seat from the Barisan Nasional.

"Many, including friends and relatives, did not expect me to win as they considered me a greenhorn but that did not dampen my resolve to do my best to win the seat," he told the New Straits Times.

However, Keshvinder, who defeated Barisan Nasional's Chai Song Poh with a majority of 1,362 votes, acknowledged that the next four or five years before the next polls will not be easy for him.

Just two months into his new job, he has already received close to 1,000 appeals from constituents to help them to either get new land titles or renew old ones.

Many of them have been squatting on state land for two generations or more and, so far, have failed in their attempts to apply for land titles.

Some of those whose titles have expired have been trying to get them renewed for more than 20 years.

With the Pakatan Rakyat state government in power, the squatters are hoping that they will be issued titles to the land on which their houses stand.

"These people have been waiting for years to get their land titles and now they want their problem to be solved by the new state authorities.

"There is a lot of pressure on the state government and myself."

Besides the 1,000-odd families seeking land titles, Keshvinder said he had also received requests from more than 50 farmers who were asking for 30-year titles for the land they were farming.

Almost 40 per cent of his constituents are involved in farming activities, including cattle and buffalo breeding. Many of them are occupying ex-tin mining land without approval from the state government.

While the land issue is certain to occupy his time until the next general election, the lawyer hopes to accomplish much more.

Topmost on his mind is the creation of sports associations and recreational clubs for youths in his constituency.

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