Residents of Kampung Bagan Ajam in Butterworth and Kampung Chubadak in KL are the latest folk to face eviction at the hands of developers.
In Kampung Bagan Ajam, some 120 households are affected: 47 have reportedly accepted the developers’ offer of compensation while 73 claim it is too low.
The residents reportedly say they have been offered compensation ranging from RM7000 to RM25000 each.
The developer is Tah Wah Group, which has bought up tracts of land on the mainland. Tah Wah had last year sponsored the RM350000 refurbishment of the Anjung Bagan recreational park under its corporate social responsibility programme.
Kampung Bagan Ajam lies close to the site of the entrance to the proposed tunnel on mainland Penang. Certainly, these residents will not be delighted with the tunnel.
Land in Butterworth presently averages close to RM100psf compared to fives times more on the island. Expect this gap to narrow with the state government adamant about the controversial tunnel.
Speculation in the area near the tunnel in Butterworth is bound to further propel property prices on the mainland even further.
Is this what they mean by the tunnel “opening up mainland Penang for development”? Development for whom?
In Kampung Chubadak, the defiant figure of 73-year-old grandmother Wahidah Md Salleh is now etched in folklore after she faced down bulldozers that were threatening to demolish her home.
The land had been sold to a private developer while the villagers were awarded RM7000 for each family and a low-cost flat – though some complained that electricity had not yet been connected.
According to the Malay Mail:
In 1998, the Kuala Lumpur High Court decided that the land in Kg Chubadak belonged to the people who had started the village. The court added that if the area was to be developed the people must be compensated with an amount equal to the value of their settlement.
However by 2008, DBKL had listed down Kg Chubadak Tambahan as squatters’ settlement under the 2020 Kuala Lumpur City Plan, together with five other villages.
The Malay Mail also reported that “a Court of Appeal decision in 2000 had previously refuted claims that the villagers were squatters and trespassers, insisting that they occupied the land as licensees and with the consent of the state authority.”
Perhaps many of these problems arise because the whole concept of land ownership based on titles in a central register ignores the needs of those who have resided on the land for generations, sometimes entire well established communities. These resident are then cruelly termed “squatters”, when they are really pioneering settlers.
So we allow whole villages to be flattened and these established communities to be evicted with meagre compensation – and then we wonder why there is insufficient low-income housing, how the super-rich are getting wealthier, why household debt is rising, and why income inequality is so wide?