Another colonial-era village in Penang is set to be flattened – Kampung Siam of Pulau Tikus (behind the Pulau Tikus Police Station).
According to a villager, residents, including those who have lived up to six generations on the land, have received eviction letters dated 23 April from a legal firm representing a developer, giving them 30 days to vacate the land.
Documents indicate the land was orginally bequeathed by the East India Company on behalf of Queen Victoria to the Siamese and Burmese communities in 1845.
The land was supposed to be bequeathed in perpetual ownership of the joint communities. It included a prohibition “to grant, bargain, sell, assign, transfer, convey or otherwise alienate the said piece of ground or any part of parcel thereof…” The land “shall remain, continue and be for the benefit of the Burmese and Siamese community of Prince of Wales Island and its dependencies from henceforth for ever…”
Observers are now baffled as to how the land was then sold to developers.
The original plot stretched from behind the police station to the Reclining Buddha temple. But along the way, around 2000, the land was divided into two plots, one managed by Burmese trustees and the other by the Thai trustees.
A Burmese Society building was put up in the area under the Burmese trustees. Rent was imposed on the villagers but rental collection stopped in 2008.
The plot was further subdivided and Kampung Siam lies in the affected tract, which includes a dozen houses and a few small shops facing Burmah Road. The tract, about the size of a football field, was then sold to a developer in mainland Penang, who then sold it to another developer, the lawyers for whom have now sent out the eviction notices.
The residents now want a closer scrutiny of the relevant documents and the land transactions to find out how this could have happened.