Monday, 4 January 2010

Rumah Hijau residents : We are not moving (part II)

Their long wait is over. After nearly a 40-year wait, the 236 families living in the slum of Rumah Hijau in Mak Mandin, Penang, can finally move into new three-room low-cost flats in Ampang Jajar, Butterworth.

Rumah Hijau consists of 25 longhouses which were built for residents who gave up their original squatter houses in 1972 to enable the Penang Development Corporation (PDC) to develop the Mak Mandin Industrial Estate project.

About 170 families had accepted the 650 sq ft units in Ampang Jajar, Butterworth, but still, there are 66 families who wish to stay put at Rumah Hijau located about 3km away from the new low cost flats.

The low cost units which cost RM 42,000 will be given free to temporary occupational holders (TOL) from Rumah Hijau.

The state had entered into a privatization agreement with developer Silver Channel Sdn Bhd to build a 20-storey block comprising 304 low-cost units.

Despite the modern infra-structure and a cleaner environment, the remaining families in Rumah Hijau refused to move. They said that they will incur more expenses if they move to the new location.

Madam Tan, a mother of three said, There is a school nearby, it is just walking distance from here and at the same time, I can take care of my mother in law who is blind.

It is going to be very inconvenient for us if we move to the new place. she said.

Madam Tan makes paper shoes and runs a small economy rice stall in front of her house for a living.

In a recent press conference held at Rumah Hijau, UMNO Pemuda Shaik Hussein Mydin said, The Rumah Hijau issue is an old issue. In 2004, an agreement was drawn up by the previous government to build the low cost units at Ampang Jajar.

But after listening to the plight of the residents of Rumah Hijau, the previous state government considered and approved to build the flats at Rumah Hijau vicinity.

The state government should not victimize the poor, these are poor people that we are taking about here. he said.

Shaik also urged the PKR state government to consider alienating one of the nearby plots of land around Rumah Hijau at a favourable price to build a block of low cost flats for the remaining residents.

Resident Pavarthi 62, who owns a small sundry shop, said she sees less customers coming to her shop located at the main road of Rumah Hijau.

I have been doing business here for the past 25 years and the customers are getting less.

Since my customers are poor people, they tend to buy one kilo rice and we also sell one mosquito coil. If the residents move out from here, I have no customers, I have nothing left.

I have to sit at home as I am unable to do anything else at my age she said sadly.

Zainab, 63 who takes care of her bed ridden husband said she wants to stay put due to the condition of her husband who endured a major surgery recently.

My husband had a major surgery and moving him around is difficult. We rather stay here and I urge the government to provide us a suitable house. she said.

Many of the remaining residents are poor and have sick elderly to care for. Their hope is to get the state government to build some low cost units for them at Rumah Hijau.

Last October, Penang Town and Country Planning and Housing committee chairman Wong Hon Wai said that the state had entered a privatisation contract with Silver Channel to build 304 low-cost flat units in Ampang Jajar.

Under the agreement, he said, the developer had surrendered 200 units valued at RM8.4mil to the state for the resettlement of the Rumah Hijau residents. But, since there were 236 families to be relocated, Wong said the state had spend RM4.3mil to buy up the remaining 104 units to ensure there were ample units for the residents.

He hopes that the remaining residents would join their neighbours upon seeing them enjoying a better quality of life, they will move here as well.

Video by Regu G and Jimmy Leow
Article by Jimmy Leow

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