GEORGE TOWN: A Penang Malay rights group has voiced concerns that the embattled residents of Kampung Mutiara in Batu Ferringhi could get displaced and the vacated land could be sold to other parties at higher prices.
Penang Malay Association (Pemenang) chairman Tan Sri Yusoff Latiff said that even though an agreement has been made to place the 40 families in temporary housing at Seri Tanjung Pinang in Tanjung Tokong by UDA Holdings after the three-month postponement period is over, he pointed out that there was still no guarantee that the village residents would get to return to Kampung Mutiara.
“What is the guarantee that they will get to return to Kampung Mutiara and what is the guarantee that they will be given compensation in Kampung Mutiara?
“It is good that the state government and the federal government is able to work out a deal with the land owner for the residents through an amicable negotiation but it is seen as being one-sided, more in favour of the landowner and not Kampung Mutiara residents,” he told a press conference at the Pemenang office here today.
Yusoff was referring to the negotiations made by Barisan Nasional (BN) to give the landowner a RM50,000 compensation due to the delay in the villagers vacating the land.
Ahmad, who represented the residents, said it was agreed that BN paid the landowner RM50,000 compensation due to the delay in the villagers vacating the land on top of another another RM50,000 as a surety for all the residents to move out in three months’ time which would be returned upon them vacating the land.
“In whichever situation the landowner is still on the benefiting end,” he added.
While commending the effort made by the state government through deputy chief minister Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon and Umno’s Datuk Ahmad Ismail together with DAP Bukit Bendera member of parliament Zairil Khir Johari, the fate of the residents was still uncertain.
He explained that when the land is left empty once the residents leave in three months’ time, anything could happen and the land could even be sold to another party at even higher prices.
Last month, villagers of Kampung Mutiara were supposed to be evicted from their village after the landowner had obtained a court order seeking their eviction but the negotiations saw them being given a three-month extension.
Arrangements were made with UDA Holdings for the residents to move to the temporary housing but the housing is still awaiting strata title before keys could be handed over.
While commending and welcoming Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s statement that he would not approve any development plans in the four-acre piece of land, Yusoff said more could be done with one of them being gazetting Section 8 of the Land Acquisition Act (LAA) for the government to step in an acquire the piece of land from the landowner.
Saying that the negotiations made between the state government, landowner and BN was made in haste and should be reviewed, Yusoff said Pemenang was preparing a memorandum to be sent to the Federal Government for it to acquire the piece of land.
“It used to be a piece of land that belonged to the government and it was given to the Malay settlers by the Kedah ruler back in 1826 for protecting the state against the Thais back then and the original residents there were Malays,” he explained. – MO