Pepper Estate community faces uncertain future


A community of about 300 households in Pepper Estate on Penang Island is facing an uncertain future after it emerged that the land they are living on has been quietly sold to a developer.

The estate was opened up in the late 1960s for people to build their houses and it was run by the Eow Thoon (deceased) Estate.

Although the houses belong to the residents, the land itself belonged to the estate, and each household had to pay around RM40 monthly in ground rent to the estate.

But a land search revealed that the estate sold the land to Beverly Heights Properties Sdn Bhd and the sale was registered with the land office on 23 May 2012.

The estate stopped collecting ground rent by the end of 2012.

Now worried residents have received some kind of letter from lawyers.

“Many of us built our homes with a high degree of trust and hope that our continued possession of the land would remain undisturbed,” said one resident. “Pepper Estate has been like a safety valve for the lower socio economic sector, providing affordable housing with easy access to urban facilities. Residents work hard to make ends meet and are grateful we have no bank mortgages to grapple with.”

This is a community that integrates and supports the disabled, the low-income groups as well as extended families with a significant number of senior citizens well into their 70s and 80s for whom Pepper Estate has been home for the past 40 years, said the resident.

“What happens when a community of 300 homes, with over 1000 residents, is dismantled? With a compensation of RM 40,000 or thereabouts, what can residents buy in Penang? The purchase of low cost apartments will require bank loans which many may not succeed in obtaining.”

Added to their plight is the worry of how their extended families will be accommodated in a small space of 650-700 sq ft. Like most rapidly diminishing kampungs on Penang Island, the village house has provided for the well-being of extended families under one roof.

The residents have petitioned the state government. In particular, they are asking for a 12-month moratorium on any house demolition starting from the date of negotiation for vacant possession of the land. This will stop the developer from immediately and sporadically demolishing houses as they gain vacant possession. For the residents still trying to negotiate, they do not need to be subjected to a distressed environment filled with demolition debris.

In their petition, the residents noted:

‘Green’ Penang is also about housing preservation and conservation of resources. Pepper Estate (alongside other endangered villages; Hong Seng Estate, the Chinese village of Tanjung Tokong) represents the architecture and character of lower income homes built in the 1970s. Not historical when compared to Georgetown but still complete communities with shared values. There is simplicity of architecture, distinctiveness in layout, a good physical infrastructure, and generally a low impact on both the physical and visual landscape. It is sympathetic to the surrounding state forest. The homes are well-ventilated without the need for energy draining air conditioners. Certainly Pepper Estate as it stands is not a drain on the physical resources nor does its carbon footprint reach anywhere near that of the new concrete, high-end developments.

Meanwhile, the residents are seeking the assistance of their local elected reps.

Will another community have to make way for expensive high-end property development? ‘Development’ for whom?

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Anil, what can DAP KADUN that area help the folks? I m thiking those age 50s 60s 70s…and oku if any…


It is only natural that those staying there for so long would not expect to be moved. However, before we make any comment, we must know who and what type of residents are there. Don’t be surprise, later we discover some are having apartment for rent in downtown. Out of the the 1000 residents, how many are able working class. How many are old folks. The able must move out. The Estate owner was kind to the first generation only. The developer to Preserve the GREENERY. Add more fruit trees to the area. Realign the houses if necessary, and turn… Read more »


Why should it be to the knowlegde of the residents? Is it required legally? Come on, let’s be air to the owner. They had be leaving for almost free for the last 40 years or so. Who would want to invest or purchase land in Penang if they cannot developed it? Do we want to see Penang backwards like an old folks home where the young people had all left for better prospects in other countries? As it is, there are many young folks who had left Penang and leaving only their parents behind. The Hillside area is full of… Read more »


a: Why should it be to the knowlegde of the residents? Is it required legally? It is easy to surmise such indifference with hot air if one (old retiring hack) has an exit strategy – rich children residing overseas who can (anytime) send him/her a one-way ticket to join them for perpetual oversea retirement. Some old folks in Pepper Estate may have had worked like dogs all their lives without a comfortable nest egg to save, let alone 3 warm meals on rainy days. It is only humane on the part of the richie land owner to at least ‘prepare’… Read more »


refer to comments by a: “they have been leaving for 40 years for almost free…does not need to be informed…” Excuse me, we are not squatters!!! we pay ground rent. he does not know the facts and talks nonsense. We pay RM40.00 a month. we have receipts. commenter is rich, his children all overseas – good luck – no need to show off u got children in diff countries. To each his own if you are educated enough to understand this. The previous land owner has an obligation to inform; we are not squatters. go read the rent tribunal act.… Read more »


Anil netto, The main points are: 1. why does the previous master landlord kept quiet about the sale of the land? The landlord has a duty/obligation to officially inform all HIS ground tenants in writing about the situation , at least through their lawyers ? They have sold the land without vacant possession I think. They collect rent from us and we have receipts to prove it; including S&P agreement counter-endorsement with RM3,000 fees paid each time a change of house ownership/ground tenancy. We have documents to prove that. 2. Many arguments about rights,etc. All have their merits. They have… Read more »


Thank you Anil MAYBE the 300 households should form a committee and appoint a trustworthy lawyer to bring this state of informal Tenancy for arbitration or to Court for compensation! In this type of limbo that IS the only recourse as the land belongs to a Private Individual and his heir(s). They paid nominal or token rent for the land that their houses have been built on from 1960 (53 years) but the landlord(s) have the right to dispose of their land as they deem fit! Most probably each of the house owners may be compensated as squatters from 2012,… Read more »


Cuepacs made nosie that half of civil servants cannot afford to buy houses, even 1Prima that cost RM250K. Even BN has no solution!


Agreed with Kevin. Lets face it. I do not want to side with anybody but the fact is the land belong to the owner and the owner has the right to sell or develop it. In fact the owner or developer at least have some conscience by providing a 40k+ compensation. And it come to my mind, what would happen if the 99 years leasehold flat, house or condo that we have just brought are up. There many many such properties. I was asking myself this question !!!. Would we be compensated if the apartment, flats, condo were to be… Read more »


Gerakan, MCA, MIC & UMNO are fatique to champion this case ?

If this case is happening right before election time, we can witness more fanfare ???

May be the state gomen can give priority of Penang HDB-type housings ????

May be Penang tychoos like Jimmy Choo & Boon Siew clans can create jobs like shoes and bike industries for these dusplaced folks ????

think ot of box many opportunities in crisis ?

Affordable housing for billionaire @ GK bs dictionary

Do worry. Each resident will get 1 million house as usually claim by Yang. Look at Kg Buah Pala.

So sad about this land grabbing trend since 308. Errr, should we blame previous Gerakan gomen in this case ???


It is important we establish who the rightful owner of the land was. It does not matter whether you build a palace or a shack on the land, it is still not yours until and unless the land title says you own the land. Even though developers disgust me, it would be an injustice to the owner of the land if he/she or the estate cannot sell his own land just because he had previously, out of kindness allowed these ppl to live there for a mere RM 40 a month. How are you going to get that rate in… Read more »


I do not deny that like everywhere else, there are people in this community who are deserving cases and who direly need a roof over their head. I’m just saying that we cannot deny the owner(s) of the land their right to sell the land for development. To me they have done no wrong unlike in other cases where village land with valid land titles are forcefully taken over in the name of development (eg. Kg Tg Tokong). Society must provide for these people by allocating decent, comfortable and affordable housing, not expect a private land owner to do that.… Read more »


Anil, what “appears” today as “affordable” from 1960s was as demanding back then. We moved from georgetown and bought a semi-D as far as paya terubong (much farther than air itam) for what today would appear to be a pittance of RM16,500. Our parents had to sell their wedding ring for the down payment. With the road condition and early work, our parents fell off motorcycles and broke many bones many time commuting to work in Georgetown. My grandma lived in Pepper estate many years ago, and we sold the unit cheap more than a decade ago, when reports were… Read more »


Another case of durian runtuh for the folks like the Kpg Buah Pala saga?
I think no one should complain, right?


An open letter to Penangites By Marina Emmanuel DEPLETING RESOURCES: In recent times, the island has seen an increase in the destruction of its greenery and environment MY dear Penangites, this letter comes to you in the wake of so many happenings this month which have hurt me, as I look back to happier times when I was a green and cool island with plenty of open spaces. It pains me to write this but I must, before further destruction is done. I realise that it may be pointless to talk about the good old days when my resources, such… Read more »


Developers Rule Penang ?$$$$? Developers must adhere also to CAT principles ?
Welcome to the reality of capitalistic world ! No money No Honey.
Penang not Spore where the general people have great income opportunities as well as excellent public amenities. Don’t just develop concrete condos and not develop public amenities in parallel.