The forgotten settler-families of Jalan Raja Uda

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The descendants of settlers from Kwangchow have been waiting a dozen years for the compensation they were promised after they were forced to vacate their family homes along Jalan Raja Uda in Butterworth to make way for a major property development project.


Photos by Anil Netto – click icon on bottom right to toggle to full-screen slideshow mode

Today, their temporary concrete and zinc-roofed homes are rapidly decaying while the elusive agreed compensation – 800 sq ft three-bedroom medium-cost apartments – is nowhere in sight.

Since the mid-1990s, over 300 households scattered over 50 acres have lost their family homes to the Raja Uda Commercial Centre project in Butterworth. This project comprises rows of new shophouses, each priced at between RM500,000 to RM1 million, fronting both sides of a one-kilometre stretch of Jalan Raja Uda towards the intersection with Jalan Telaga Air/Jalan Siram.

Some 200 settlers had accepted cash compensation ranging from RM20,000 to RM60,000 while 72 others signed compensation agreements in 1996/97 for a medium-cost apartment worth around RM80,000. Another 50 households or so are affected by the latest phase of the project.

Of those 72 households, 27 chose to find temporary rented accommodation elsewhere while 45 were given temporary housing: 600 sq ft two-bedroom units in rows of long-houses (the blue-coloured area of the map).

But these houses, not built to last, are falling apart. A few residents have placed additional corrugated sheets – held down by bricks to prevent them from flying off – on top of damaged roofing. Gaps in the roofing have led to leakages, which have stained ceiling boards. Termite infestation is worsening.

The 27 who opted for rented accommodation while waiting for the apartments were given a RM400 monthly rental subsidy, but this stopped after about 18 months, say village committee members.

In 2001, the Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP), then under the BN, stunned the settlers when it approved the construction of low-cost flats on the site that was meant for the settlers’ medium-cost apartments. These low-cost flats (see photo), to meet the developer’s social housing quota, are meant for the general public – not the affected settlers – and are to be allotted by the state. The low-cost blocks are almost completed but have not yet received Occupational Certificates (OCs).

The site for the medium-cost apartments was moved to the site originally meant for the low-cost housing – the same spot where the settlers now live in their longhouses (the blue area). This creates another dilemma: how is the developer going to build the medium-cost apartments as compensation for the settlers when their temporary longhouses are located on the site?

The original developer was Cherating Development Sdn Bhd. In 2000, the business was taken over by Woolley Development Sdn Bhd.

The 50 households affected by the latest phase of the project – another row of shophouses possibly priced at up to a million ringgit each – could receive cash compensation ranging from only RM8,000 to RM20,000.

Most of the settlers arrived in Jalan Raja Uda in the 1920s and 1930s from Kwangchow, a sub-provincial city that is the capital of Guangdong province in southern China. Mostly Teochew and Hokkien-speaking, they toiled as farmers and reared livestock in the area, selling their produce in the town market near the Maha Mariamman Devasthanam Temple in Bagan, the Butterworth old town centre. Next to the temple stood the old jetty where open-air wooden-platform ferries, guided and pulled forward by cables, plied between Butterworth and George Town. (Bagan incidentally means jetty or landing point; there is even a Bagan in Burma.) The sole Punjabi family in the area, who reared cattle, supplied the local folk with milk.

In the 1950s, the younger generation began working at the new Khian Guan Biscuit Manufacturing Company in Jalan Siram at the intersection with Jalan Raja Uda. It was the first factory in the area, well before the establishment of the nearby Mak Mandin Industrial Estate, one of the oldest industrial zones in the country.

Jalan Raja Uda before the 1960s was just a sand road, largely traffic-free, on which kids sometimes played marbles. Alongside the road, the more mischievous ones climbed trees and snared birds with glue. If they were unfortunate, a passing policeman might order them to come down and do ear-squats. Whole families would pull out brightly coloured chairs, made of plastic straps around a metal frame, to sit by the road and savour the evening breeze. The children studied at the nearby Chung Hwa (Central) School in Kampong Gajah Road and the branch school in Telaga Air Road.

Today, the children of the pre-war settlers may not live long enough to see their final homes and die with dignity if the compensation is not hurriedly given. Seven or eight of them have already passed away since the compensation agreements were signed a dozen years ago.

The MPSP, now under Pakatan, still has some leverage: it can see to it that the settlers are properly compensated before issuing the OCs for the project. Will those still alive receive a fair deal before it’s too late?

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LOH HUEY LING

i just get my key on 11 Feb’2012 and found that dont have fan hock,water tap and shower head tap.but the developer guy name “bell” said fan hock i got but the water tap or what tap we DONT HAVE stock any more so “EAT YOUR SELF” follow by the collect key date already expiry so we also got rite to reject u .
one more case is the “Late delivery Charges” also over the date u cant get anything !!!! anyone can help for this issue !!!!
how come poor people always kenal bully !!!!

people power

AAAH! Malaysians political as usual, Hope one day we will all grow up to see beyond our own needs for the community beyond the horizon or racial factors. What is the so called facts or the law of the land is within the domain of us for it what it serves us individually more so we created it in our silence all these years. What is the reality and truth that faces our community, will make us understand what needs to be done rather than wasting our time in fighting our fellow brothers and sisters without understand that the law… Read more »

leonghuat

Just got new info, buyer of low cost flat in this project waited for 6 years but flat cannot deliver to buyer yet. What happen? Poor people got sellected by goument to buy low cost flat, nad now (what happened)? These poor people are paying high bank interest every month, and these developer cannot deliver a complete flat to them? Why is the goument not doing anything? Nose got hook kah? Can this CAT goument please do something good for poor people. So many poor communities are neglected by this goument. Rumah Hijau Mak Mandin, Kampung Pala, Tanjung Bungah Residents… Read more »

leonghuat

We thought the government would help the people when they got cheated. We thought MPSP have power to take action on the developer when the people suffers. If powerful people can go round bullying the people, surely there is no goument. Or is the goument giving support to these bully?

People will believe the goument is also a gangster… We buy shops but no title. And the goument also let they go. Now they also doing business, and (will) more New buyers (get played out) again? And the goument just watch.

leonghuat

My parent bought 1 unit of shop in this project, but no title for the shop is available for so long. Already waited for 6 years. Where is the title? This is a serious problem to this company and also this project. The squatters have signed compensation agreement and entitled to 1 unit of flat each, and they can’t get the flat even waiting for 12 years? So you see, this company do get care about any agreements that they have signed. They do not (seem to) respect the law. They are powerful people. They can play around with the… Read more »

Penang bolih

Aiyo, yoyo… tripods, tripods so many tripods!

Yang busuk pun dia cakap wangi…

straight talk

Another disgraceful legacy of the (political) eunuch Koh Tsu Koon and it will be reflected on his karma.

x

Been waiting 12 years.

First 10 years … by BN.

Will DAP continue this … job?

Or put a stop to these nonsense.

Sunny

anil,
I would like to get your stand on squatters. From your posts so far you seem pro-squat. I live in sungai ara, penang and over the last 6 months a squatter started building a nice home for himself on state land 50 meters from where i live. By your standards, how long more before he deserves compensation?

Also, when you have the time I invite you over here so we can both pay him a visit. What say you?

zozdaniel

Malaysians are fortunate to have civil societies who are championing the rights of the ordinary man in the street. They see it upon their common sense of giving ideas, moral support and lending assistance without getting a cent for their efforts. Throughout the history of ALIRAN, and in particular the many articles contributed by the person known as ANIL NETTO, he is always fortright and fearless in voicing out the rights and sufferings of the small man in the street. During the long tenure of the BN government in Penang, Anil has spoken out against the many WRONGS of the… Read more »

AbitOfSunshine

I think the penang government under PR is a tad sensitive to criticism. This was evident from the number of people they had in blogs to counter any negative comments of their handling of the KBP issue. They did not realise that criticisms are often good if it pointed out a serious blind side in their assessment of events and issues. In system science the only valuable feedback is the negative feedback. Only systems that can study and evaluate negative feedback can take appropriate action to remain dynamic, effective and benefitial. Systems that love positive feedback become saturated very quickly… Read more »

O

Uthayakumar, HRP, MIC Youth from Mak Mandin, where are you? Gerakan, MCA where are you all? You all took part in the protest against the Chief Minister, will you all be fighting for the Rakyat? Why the deafening silence? Shame on you BN, UMNO, MCA, MIC and most of all Gerakan!!!!!!!

wira

I wonder if anyone has talked to the displaced squatters of Jalan Raja Uda to get their opinion on which party they will vote in GE 13. If the duty of the state is only to allocate the low cost units, it means the occupiers must still pay the developer for the ownership of those units. There is no free lunch. Basically any negotiation of compensation is between the affected parties and things do get complicated if the original developer abandon the project. The state can only hold the … of the original developer. They normally do not have the… Read more »

daniel

This is so common…most squatters demolished without proper helps in the past.

Kg Buah Pala squatters got the best deal in Malaysia history as I know of.

SamG

… Megat Jittendran! What … are you talking about. The 9 troublemakers from Kg BP are now begging DAP & DCM Ramasamy for help after creating chaos among all those wanted to take such a super payout!. The rest of ex-KBP have distanced themselves from Sugumaran and gang.
Also why do you blame PR for the crisis in Jalan Raja Uda and Tg Tokong?? This was all done during the reign of the (political) Eunuch CM TKT!
Get your bloody facts right before shooting…! STUPID or what??
God Save Penang from (people) like you!

Jebat musibat

Saya simpati pada LGE,
terlalu banyak … dari pemerintahan sebelumnya terpaksa ditanggung.

All the best LGE and PR gov.

O

Megat Jittendran, Assalam’mualaikum, a Muslim Megat? It is “haram” to accuse someone without proper facts and proofs. The present rocket led Government only came into power in March 2008. If you read and understand the writings, the above happened during the mid 90’s, all this happen during the time of the previous Government, under one political eunuch, who had got no authority and had to take orders from his evil political masters, UMNO. The political eunuch was a kind man, but, in politics, matters of the heart does not matter, it is serving the people and being seen assisting the… Read more »

AbitOfSunshine

O, that’s very zen-like name. PR may be in the government for a very short time but if what it does as a matter of policy emulated the world-view, philosophy and practices of BN then the rakyat is again being befooled by politicians on both sides of the divide. It would be interesting to study the agreement that these folks entered into with the one signed by KBP residence. If there are no different then what moral or ethical ground can PR stand on ? I am not a supporter of any political party and as such I owe no… Read more »

SpeakUp

Yang … please check about your comments on Ramasamy trying to negotiate for the 9, inside stories show that he is not that hot with the 9. People say a lot … just like Rayer. Remember, Ramasamy and Karpal sat there when Rayer promised that ponggol will be celebrated every year at KBP. Things are not what they seem to be.

Oh yes … the story is that Karpal and/or Ramsamy was not keen for LGE to visit KBP, says LGE would be (given a tough time). How nice …

SpeakUp

In clearing squatters its always best to give CASH or CASH with an option to purchase a unit at a special price when the S&P is ready to be executed. This will ensure that the above situation never happens. I used to clear squatters in Butterworth and Bukit Mertajam back in the 90’s, when the developer suggests that it be settled by way of taking a unit, I will always ignore it, for obvious reasons. LGE did not realise how bad it can go for KBP with the current form of settlement, it is because of lousy advisers and his… Read more »

szuzhen

Mr Yang, you have just lost your senses and being blind to the real problems on the ground. Just go to the ground and talk to the Squatters of Jalan Raja Uda. 99% of these squatters can tell you how they feel about the failed expectation of the New ( oh, no more new) Pakatan Government.

They despise upon Their Yang Berhormats, who don’t give a damn care to their sufferings.

Mr Yang, please come, come and see and talk to us in real life. No politicking please.

KINGKONG

You really lost your sense. Things happen during GErakan time and we expect PR to made good all the … by Gerakan who have been running the shows for 50 years? What about japs kill all the malayans more than 60 years ago. Still dig them up?

szuzhen

The Raja Uda squatters have not been infirtrated by the other political party yet, i.e. MCA , and the Pakatan government have no reason to ignore the plea for help from this group of unfortunate and victimised people. There were so many instances that the Pakatan Government have monkeyed ( SEE NOTHING, HEAR NOTHING AND SAY NOTHING) upon the poor residents of Penang. Are the Pakatan Government scared to be sooed again? Such an attitude shows a total lack of civil leadership. Have Penangites elected Eunuchs to govern? Penangites have enough of excuses from this CAT government, especially the failure… Read more »

ahb

anil,

you anti BN?

whats the problem?

chinhan

If a developer didn’t fulfill his agreement for 12 years, then he has the intention of not fulfilling his agreement at all.

Can the CAT government of Penang help them? They have suffer so much.

The sufferings can be further viewed here:

MoonLight

It would be instructive to know what kind of agreement that they had signed. If it was anything like the kg.buah pala’s agreement then developer basically has no time frame to honour the terms of the contract.

I am also wondering whether LGE actually knew of such dirty-handed scam when he recommended to the residence of KBP.

Megat Jittendran

D PR state government seems keener on CAT – Condominium, Apartment & Towers, not the welfare of the ppl. Kapitan Bukit Cina LGE from Malacca has yet to settle even the compensation issue of 9 long staying residents of High Chaparral. (The sale of) the village land, which was under trust for the residents, (was sealed by the Land Office under his administration). (The village was) demolished and flattened… He then displayed showbiz propaganda to portray himself as High Chaparral hero by claiming he had offered double-storey house compensation for 24 house owners. D houses were given to even those… Read more »

sally

Are you a Penangnite? Who are you to demand LGE’s resignation? Will you be fit enough to stand in his shoes? If so, stand for election in the next GE against him!

Yang

Megat, Don`t try to distort the facts. Those who leave a few year ago were given a 75,000/= flat plus 90,000 compensation. Those whose house were demolished recently and who have accepted the offer were given a 1400 sq ft double storey house. On top of that they were given 8,000 & 3000 for relocation purpose. As for those who leave earlier instead of the 75,000 flat they were now being given the 1,400 sq ft double storey house being a bonus as they get to keep the 90,000 cash compensation. Yes, the 9 families will get nothing if they… Read more »

Penangite

Right on Yang. The people of Penang support the new young PR govt. When GE13 comes, I will bet with anyone who wants to place a wager…that PR will retain power in Penang.

zozdaniel

12 years is certainly a long wait. If a promise made for such a long while, without the possibility of seeing some reality to their home soon, are’t such a promise tantamount to an act of deception. If the government in power really have a heart for the ordinary rakyats, surely they would not stand idle and allow the Bully Developer to continue with his ways. Can somebody in power please help them! What happen to our civilised society? Are we still border with the blame game of BN or Pakatan Gavernment ? Lets have some sanity to cambat irresponsible… Read more »

Yang

Its another screw up by the previous government. Anil comments is very biased. First of all the people have been promised a low cost flat and they have been temporarily given 2 room long house. The project ran into problems and was replaced by another developer. The new developer has promise to complete Blk B for them to move in. As in any problematic projects there will always be some delay. And the PR representatives are helping out to solve any issues that come about. Anil is now trying to pin the problems on to the LGE & PR government… Read more »