PORT DICKSON - The 79 former pig farmers who had invested in the now shelved 480ha Pig Farming Area (PFA) integrated complex in 1997 near here will get every sen of their money back plus interest.
MCA deputy president Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong said that the party managed to convince the former developer of the proposed project, Nikmat Maju Development Sdn Bhd, to refund the individuals after the group made an appeal to him recently.
"Sixteen of the former pig farmers met me at the MCA headquarters on Sept 14 and I promised to get them their refunds within 10 days.
"I am more than happy to be here eight days later with their cheques," he said after handing over the cheques at a brief ceremony here.
Dr Wee, also Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, said the 16 recipients received between RM2,737 and RM56,000 each, totalling RM448,426.
He said MCA had since received another 13 applications from the former pig farmers and they were being processed.
"We are also prepared to assist the other 50 former farmers but we hope they will submit their applications by the end of this month," Dr Wee said, adding that those affected would be paid a 20 per cent interest.
Also present at the ceremony was Telok Kemang MCA division chief Datuk Seri King Lim Chin Fui, who helped raise the plight of the former pig farmers.
The authorities decided to set up the PFA in Tanah Merah but this was delayed following the outbreak of the Nipah virus in neighbouring Bukit Pelanduk, which claimed the lives of 108 people the following year.
The proposed PFA was to ensure farmers practised high hygiene standards and proper waste disposal. However, it was shelved after the authorities decided to ban pig farming in the area due to the outbreak.
At present, the state government only allows pig farming to be carried out in Air Kuning where the sole farmer is permitted to rear fewer than 1,000 animals at a time.
In 2009, 41 other former pig farmers sued the developer to recoup their investments and received a judgment in their favour last July.
"This group only managed to get a 4 per cent interest per annum on their investments and had to part with some of their monies to pay their lawyers.
"MCA has not only saved the time of the 79 other former farmers but they will also receive a higher interest rate and won't have to pay a sen in legal charges," Dr Wee said.