Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Page 15 of NST Today
Something that was published on page 15 of The New Straits Times Today:
When he initiated legal action against the government last year, all Ong Pok Kok wanted was to fight for his right to be free from the nuisance caused by swiftlets.
His lawyer issued a letter of demand, dated Nov 7, to the state government and the Kuala Terengganu City Council (MBKT), to put a stop to the more than 20 swiftlet nesting operations in shophouses near Ong's residence and workplace in Jalan Tok Lam.
The letter, according to Ong, stated his intention of suing for compensation of RM10 million should both the state and MBKT fail to comply with his demand within seven days.After more than five months, his demand has not been met and he has yet to see his day in court.
He said his lawyer had apparently failed to follow up on the case after submitting the demand letter."It is strange that I have not received any correspondence from my lawyer after getting a copy of the letter of demand and come to think of it, I have yet to receive a receipt for my initial payment of RM1,000 to the law firm.
"I want to know if the lawyer is still on the case as I cannot wait forever while more and more swiftlet nesting premises are being built in the area." He lodged a report at the Kuala Terengganu police station last week and a complaint with the Bar Council.Ong, 55, a coffee shop owner, said he had been fighting a battle against the swiftlet- rearers for the past five years.
"Countless complaints to the local authorities, police, politicians, health department, environmental department and several other government agencies have amounted to nothing and now, even my legal action seems to be heading nowhere."He said the situation was bad in the sense that the birds' nest industry in Terengganu, unlike other states, was not regulated or licensed."But it is worse now because word has got out that in the next few months, the government will issue licences to existing operators.
Unscrupulous entrepreneurs are quickly setting up new swiftlet nesting premises to take advantage of the situation."Several upper floors of shophouses near mine are being converted into swiftlet motels and, although our grouses have been highlighted by the press, it makes little difference to these profit-driven businessmen," he said.
His mother Foo See Guan, 76, who has been living in the shophouse since 1967, said the invasion of swiftlets in her neighbourhood had caused misery to her and her family."Family members moved out to be as far away as possible from the birds.
At my age, I no longer have the desire to start anew somewhere else."Hopefully, a miracle will happen and these birds will fly away without ever coming back."