In Penang, Kampung Bagan Ajam residents protest eviction

Kampung Bagan Ajam residents hold a peaceful protest over being evicted with unfair compensation sums outside the village, June 16, 2014. — Picture by Opalyn Mok
Kampung Bagan Ajam residents hold a peaceful protest over being evicted with unfair compensation sums outside the village, June 16, 2014. — Picture by Opalyn Mok

SEBERANG PERAI, June 17 — The wooden house his father built has been home to 78-year-old Ooi Chooi Guan for as long as he can remember.

But now he has to leave his home with barely enough compensation to buy a new home, to make way for a new development.

Ooi is just one of about 50 families facing eviction at Kampung Bagan Ajam to make way for a new development project by Tah Wah Assets Sdn Bhd.

“I am losing my home and all they are offering me is a compensation of only RM21,500 but with this small sum, how can I even get a new home to stay in?” he said.

Kampung Bagan Ajam residents held a peaceful demonstration at the village near the Pantai Bersih seafront this morning.

Another resident, K. Murugesan, said his family has been living in the village for more than 50 years.

“We went to meet with the Sungai Puyu state assemblyman Phee Boon Poh to ask for help to negotiate for us but he’s not helping us,” he said.

He said he only wanted a house to live in and not the RM22,000 offered to him.

“We only want a flat unit, we are not asking for a luxurious condominium unit,” he added.

The residents  received their eviction notices about six months ago and Murugesan claimed they were given until August to move out.

The affected residents were offered compensation of between RM7,000 and RM25,000 each, depending on the size of their houses in the village.

The 50 families refused to accept the compensation offered as they all wanted to be compensated with a low cost unit or higher compensation.

When met at his office, Town and Country Planning and Housing state executive councillor Jagdeep Singh Deo said he is willing to assist the residents in applying for affordable housing from the state government.

“Their applications will be given weight so if they are eligible for affordable housing, they will get a unit,” he said.

Phee said he is still arranging negotiations between the residents and representatives from Tah Wah.

His office received information on the issue in November last year and he had contacted Tah Wah to arrange negotiations with the residents.

“I have mediated several sessions of negotiations and it is still on-going but I don’t know how the developer will react to their protests today,” he said.

He added that there is still no set deadlines for the residents to move out yet pending the negotiations.