Pepper Estate: We are not ‘squatters’, says resident


A blog visitor from Pepper Estate shares with us the reality on the ground.

The Pepper Estate resident says:

Thank you for your continued interest in Pepper Estate’s dilemma and I know that you share in common with these residents hope that a peaceful, just and fair outcome is the outcome of their perseverance, in the face of powerful interests.

Just a note to your readers.

Pepper Estate people own their own homes and have authentic sales and purchase agreements, and approved by the former landowners. Beverley Heights has that information in a register already.

Pepper Estate people are not squatters and pay their obligatory ground-rent up to the date when the former landowners and these new people have refused to take it.

Pepper Estate people are not lazy.

The majority of families have low income or are surviving on minimal pensions.

The Lim Family Trust made an economic decision (not charity) to lease this land and in the late 1960s; the ground rent rent provided them a good income over and above the quit rent due on the land (as of 23 May 2013, still only about RM8000 on almost 8 hectares) from previously unproductive orchard/graveyard land. Of course the return to them has declined and so they put a ‘For Sale ‘ sign up. Finally Beverley Heights bought it.

204 out of 293 (some have been destroyed already) house-owners have registered with the Protem Residents Association. This number is growing daily

Of these members 73 per cent of families have lived here for over 30 years, many over 40 years and 98 per cent of families want to stay in this vicinity for understandable reasons. 98 per cent want a simple obvious solution.

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Neoh Hor Kee

Before getting emotional, let’s start with the basics. The developer is the registered proprietor of the land. At the date of transfer, there were no encumbrances on the land title, hence the transfer of land was valid and indefeasible, meaning that the title is final and conclusive. It overrides any and all prior subsisting but unregistered interests, if any over the land. It completely extinguishes whatever tenancies that were in existence with the previous registered proprietor of the land. Even more so when the tenancies were with a deceased occupier of the land an ‘continued’ by his descendants. Further, any… Read more »


fully agree with Siva. Be professional and not wishy-washy style of kicking out the residents who had been there for >41 years.

Sivasubramaniam Subramanian

Its interesting to note of all the talk here. There some points that needs to be clarified. To start with I have been living in Pepper Estate for tha past 41years. My father bought the place in 1972 from the contractor who was building almost all the houses in Pepper Estate. An aggrement called S&P was signed at that time. All dues to the goverment agencies and the land lords was payed for the past 41 years without fail. Recently we wanted to change the owners details from my mothers name to mine (about 6 years back), The land owner… Read more »


Dear all, the master landlord collects ground rent from ground tenants(not squatters); some call it a private lease(Jalan ipoh area KL have got similar cases); Rent Tribunal is the place to “evict” them; but not harshly, normally a mutual settlement is worked out between residents and new owner of land. Remember the Bukit Gelugor case in penang. We do not have to end up that way(s) with anger and animosity. All the philosophies have been discussed above, one phrase to resolve; “Mutual Settlement” and all will be fine. Some residents want: 1. Monetary compensation; 2. some want a unit there… Read more »


Yes, the tactic now appears to focus on pieces of paper in support of very legalistic arguments, ignoring the compassion and goodwill of the initial relationship between the original land owner who generously welcomed the first residents of Pepper Estate to settle and build their lives and bring up their families there. The focus now also seems to be “what is the best way to get these people off the land” without allowing them to negotiate a reasonable and humane settlement. The most obvious presumption is that the people will unreasonably demand to become permanent residents of these plots of… Read more »


In a previous post I mentioned that most of these house-owners do have leases (agreements with the landowner at the time) as well as sales and purchase agreements with the contractors/or previous house-owner. Some do not and seem to have relied on a gentleman’s handshake, however they still paid their ground-rent and their names were registered by the landowner in his big book. Take a moment and think back to the situation as it existed in the mid-late 1960s. Let your imagination flow;imagine the landscape of Pepper Estate-fruit trees, Rumbutan trees, gentle slopes, grassy hillocks, forest behind stretching to the… Read more »

Stephen Tan Ban Cheng

Yes, Michael, I am painfully aware of a British submarine commander friend who have since passed on. He bought a house in a sub-sale. Then, a few years later, acting on the advice of their learned lawyers, the Trustees refused to accept ground rent.

I really do not know what happened after that. All I know is that the lawyer giving that advice can never come to a good end. Neither can the Trustee. Both of them acted in the most unconscionable manner imaginable.


“Breathe the air of eminence”.
It’s already happening from the Komtar Tower of Innocences to the raped hills of Penang Island. Never mind that it breathes rotten rats & hallucinates the minds that all are AOK in the deadly windstorms to come.

Andrew I

Beverley Heights. Can’t they come up with a more original name?

Breathe the air of eminence, reads one logo. How do you do that?


Stephen says general rule here and there, but at the same breath imply that those rules do not apply to this case. Yet he is unable to or wont explain why. A hazy history is not good enough.

Also, a compassionate government in my view must apply the rule of law to everyone without discrimination. Change the law if it needs be.

Whats next? It isnt corruption, its just overpriced?


We need to hear facts and nothing but the facts. The article above by “The Pepper Estate resident ” is very clear that they have legal rights to remain on the land. The article did not ask for pity or compassion, because they believe they can win this in a court of law.(that’s the way I interpret the article).


Stephen, I agree with you, honesty inherently brings its own reward even if it is not immediate (peace of mind comes to mind). Lying is fatal to any just cause. People tend to lie out of fear of something which usually doesn’t happen. If residents lie then they will harm their own goals, but this must not smear the general resident population which is well over a 1000 people. Beverley Heights is no fly by night operator. It had rich backers who want to stay in the development game and BH is proud of its builds in KL. Yes, Beverley… Read more »

Stephen Tan Ban Cheng

Yes, Michael, you are on to something. Do remember, though, that these so-called developer companies can also operate as fly-by-night companies. They can just move in, clear the land of tenants, build and sell or sell and build, and then wind up the companies after taking the profits. So, what prize corporate image if such a scenario is being pursued? At the end of the day, the State Government and the local council must insist on a compassionate approach. In fact, if properly tackled, this may well prove to be a model for development in other States in Malaysia as… Read more »


I am impressed by your noble intention.
But intention is futile if it is not translated into action.


We are aware that private property rights carry with them very strong laws and I accept in most cases that is right and proper. Laws protecting private property (Freehold title) grew out of the frustrations of land ownership during the feudal times in England. One of the prime reasons for developing a private ownership system was to release the energy and initiative of individuals, which was then seriously hampered. Tenant farmers were under the yoke of Feudal Lords. Something had to break and laws protecting Feudal Lords ability to hold very large areas of land quickly crumbled. The person who… Read more »


Actually the developer made a mistake..If the owners of the demolished house can prove the developer damaged their property, they can sue for damage, assault, emotional distress, even damage to livelihood, job performance etc. and (ask) the developer for compensation..If they stick together, the developer should pay them off given how valuable the property is..

Stephen Tan Ban Cheng

Yes, bigjoe, you are on to something. It does behove the new landowners to proceed with all caution.


Lease Lease Lease which I believed there is none because in those day in the late 80s or early 90s they don`t really have a proper lease agreement. It is just by word of mouth and trust. OK the residents say there is a lease. How many years is the lease. I am sure if the lease is still on, it would mean that the property is still under encumbrance, the developer would not have bought it. It is the same case as Air Putih where the squatters say they have brought the land and were swindled out of it.


As long as the land do not belong to you, the owner will have the last say. The people have to understand this and the owner can do what he/she likes with it. Why make so much noise? We understand your position but you have to look at the legal side of things and not do as though you have the say.

Stephen Tan Ban Cheng

Peter, you forgot the equitable side of the matter. In the end, there must be compassion and there must be understanding on both sides of the divide. Read The Grapes of Wrath on the effect of human beings when development occurs.


Actually, the house owner don’t understand their position. Legally speaking the house owner MAY BE worst off than squatters. Squatter laws are social laws that interfere with normal trade. A lessee is not a squatter and hence treated under normal contract law of trade. A lease is a lease. Ultimately the owners have a right of termination of lease. Its wrong of the developer to demolish the houses without due process since the building is private property of the owners. BUT, the lessee are not owed a house. Its actually THEIR obligation to remove their property when the lease are… Read more »


What mob behaviour? The gaps between most houses are no different that in modern estates in Malaysia and where some are wooden they are usually divided by homes that are made of plastered brick. The terrace houses and semi divided houses are divided by concrete walls. Most of the roofs are made from incombustible materials, the same as freehold properties close-by. I know of no houses here that have wheels attached. The issue around deceased owners and their families who have continued living on in the house and the reaction of the new landowners is new to me. If that… Read more »

Stephen Tan Ban Cheng

Michael, I agree with the compassionate approach that you have belted out.

I do not agree with mod behaviour and gangsterism. These must be stemmed out.


The original lease term is important. Sunny Ooi’s point is more about how they had agreed they would terminate the leases, less about car park. But your sympathy and hot heads are clouding the key issue, not helping the resident. Or perhaps it is something you already know and do not want to face. If the original lease terms says only 30 years, then the time is up. If most of the lease agreements are lost, but even if just a few are left saying 99 years, like Falim, then you can fight on solid ground. Since no one has… Read more »

Stephen Tan Ban Cheng

Sunny Ooi, Pepper Estate and Hong Seng Estate pose problems with fact patterns that are far more complicated than just renting a car park for use.

On a matter of grave public interest, it is also a disaster waiting to happen since the way the houses were built so closely to each other meant that it is a fire trap! We thank whoever we believe in that a fire has shown its fast and furious face.


1) How poor are these families? Surely we need to consider this when one is requesting special treatment.

2) How many of you are willing do donate $$$ to help them? Charity must be voluntary and not forced upon regardless one is rich or otherwise.

I am all for helping the poor but not to supporting mob like behaviour.

Stephen Tan Ban Cheng

I have written that there must be a “fair and just” settlement. I am aware that over the long period of time, different households signed different agreements containing different terms with different Trustees. What is “fair and just” is all up to the parties, including the lawyers, sitting down at the table, with give and take as the guiding humanistic principle in the bargain. I am painfully aware that in situations such as these, a lot of these putative victims can transform themselves into predators as well. Farlim is still a painful memory, with one woman shot dead before people… Read more »


Yes Pepper Estate residents are not squatters but they are also not the owners. Neither have they leased the land. They are just allowed to stay on the land with either a yearly or monthly payment to the owner. That is all. When the owner want to take it back they have to leave. There was a case in Pokok Cheri Air Itam. The owner let you stay on a certain plot of land by paying an upfront of about 25k. You can bUild your own house whatever it is a plank or brick one. You do some farming or… Read more »


I am not a lawyer but I as far as I know, according to the national land code, the owner of a piece of land owns whatever permanent structure is erected on it (like a house, plan or brick) and anything below it (to a certain depth). Even if they paid money to build those houses, there is nothing they can do because they aren’t the land owners and I don’t think it is possible for them to move their houses to another location.

Stephen Tan Ban Cheng

Kevin, that is the general rule. Any improvement on land accrues or belongs to the owners, unless vitiated by prior agreement between the owner and the tenant. As you can see, even this general rule can over overturned by a prior agreement that landowners usually do not give.


Just like me renting additional parking space at my condo. I own the car but rent the car park. What does the s&p says about termination of lease?

My Fancy Car Park

You still don’t understand the plight & problems of Pepper estate residents ah?
Your car park (for fancy car, I supposed) is nothing compared to these residents’ homes of a lifetime of hardship.

Stephen Tan Ban Cheng

I am painfully aware that some of the owners have died. And the new land owner insists on the latest documents, ignoring documents that were not updated. Due perhaps more to poverty and ignorance, the descendants continued to live there without updating the appropriate documents by doing their Letters of Administration since this costs money. These people face imminent eviction!

I call upon the new owners to take their responsibility to these deprived people seriously. They must approach it as a human problem. Anything less than such a standard will not do.


Stephen, I wonder what will be if it is your own land that have been inherited from your forefathre. Would you have felt the same way ???

Stephen Tan Ban Cheng

Yes, without a doubt, I will do what is right, even to the extent that sometimes I err on the side of listening to their sob stories. In the end, all these things will pan out. For instance, I rented out an apartment in Shah Alam. The tenant owed me something like RM60,000, He never paid. I do not see how he and his family have been blessed after more than 10 years of observation. They seem to have one problem after the other. When I say this, please don’t think I am vindictive. I see some of the ex-tenant’s… Read more »


I have only one disagreement with what you say and that is that the new owners have to take responsibility for these deprived people. First of all, there are many deprived people in this world, so why is it that only these residents deserve a helping hand? Shouldn’t we say that all human beings or at least Malaysians who genuinely cannot buy a new home, be provided one which is of reasonable standard, regardless of whether you come from Pepper estate or not. That sounds fairer to everyone, no? Secondly, why is it even the responsibility of the owner, whether… Read more »

Stephen Tan Ban Cheng

Kevin, I agree with most of what you say. The rule of law is such that stripped down to brass tacks, there are three principles: (1) the generality of law, (2) equality before the law and the neutrality of the law. Unfortunately, if you study the history of Pepper Estate, you will know that there have been a succession of Trustees, some of whom were known to have simply issued leases because they just wanted to indulge in their drinking binges. Ask around to confirm the existence of such people. To be sure, some of these Trustees were kind, compassionate… Read more »


There seems to be an ignorance of corporate social responsibility. If a rich corporation thinks it can simply kick the poor aside and bulldoze their way to greater profits, any other, so-called “welfare activity” done merely for image and public relations reasons is total hypocrisy as the corporation is not in fact socially responsible. It gives with one hand but takes back with the other. The residents of Pepper Estate and other places where people are being evicted should have been consulted first, made aware of their rights and been allowed to negotiate fair compensation. Although a majority of people… Read more »