Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Squatters Stranded For 13 Years

This is a video produced by me after being approached by a villager of Jalan Raja Uda during my coverage at Kampung Buah Pala recently.

Citizen Journalist Video About 13 years ago, Cherating Development Sdn Bhd persuaded a group of squatters in Prai, Penang, to vacate their homes for development projects.

As compensation, the developer promised an 800-sq feet flat for each family, and cash payment of RM450 until the flats were ready.

Convinced it was good offer, the squatters from Jalan Raja Uda (JRU) agreed, but till today, the promised flats has yet to seen.

The squatters were temporarily provided with single story long houses in late 1996. They built to last for two to three years.

However, after 13 years, the condition of the houses has worsened.
A Malaysiakini's citizen journalist video captured the deterioration of the houses, ranging from crumbling walls to leaking roofs.

Shabby living conditions

"We have been staying here for 10 years, (and) everything is falling apart. There are termites everywhere," said Ng Lean Sim, 53.

The shabby living conditions are especially troubling for some older squatters, as most of them are poor and in frail health.

Ng and another squatter, Tang Lee Lee, 70, have made appeals at the developer's office.

They submitted revelant documents for relocation to the promised flats, but their requests fell on deaf ears.

Another squatter, Lim Eng Hock, told Malaysiakini that in the eviction letters from the developer in 1996, it was mentioned that the developer will compensate us with an 800-sq foot flat.

New developer

"If we didn't move out once the letter of eviction was served, we would be fined RM100 a day. Since we were promised a flat, we quickly shifted to this place by Dec 26, 1996, the deadline," said Lim.

The current developer of the project is Woolley Development Sdn Bhd. They inherited the project from Cherating Development in 2000.

Showing Malaysiakini documents pertaining to the project, Daniel Leng, 54, identified in the video as the JRU squatter's spokesman, said that part of agreement was that Woolley Development take over the liabilities of the project as well.

"The developers promised the squatters that their flats would be ready in two years, and that should have been in 1999," said Leng.

It has been 10 years since, and the developers have yet to keep their end of the bargain.

Story by Emily Chow, Malaysiakini.

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