GEORGE TOWN, March 7 — Pandemonium broke out on the ground floor of Komtar at 8pm after the prime minister’s political secretary Abu Bakar Yahya visited six evicted PPR Taman Manggis tenants and their families who are camped out at the building.
The group, screaming for their case to be heard, tried to stop Abu Bakar’s car from leaving when he did not offer them a solution to their issue, forcing the police to intervene and restore calm.
The police also had to escort Penang Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) Youth chief Mohd Shameer Mohd Sulaiman from the building.
Earlier, Abu Bakar told a press conference that he was in Penang to look into the Taman Manggis and Tanah Wakaf Abdul Cauder eviction issues.
“I am confident that these issues can be resolved. I am here as the prime minister’s political secretary so you have to understand I can’t be issuing statements without checking the facts,” he said.
He said he will meet with the relevant authorities such as the state government, tenants, housing department and others related to the issue to get accurate information on what had transpired.
Abu Bakar called on all parties to work together to resolve the matter as soon as possible.
“After visiting the tenants at PPR Taman Manggis, I will visit the Tanah Wakaf Abdul Cauder in Jalan Mengkuang to get full information on what happened,” he said, referring to another project in Butterworth where residents have also been evicted.
He added that the government has a welfare bureau that can assist the people but this also depended on whether they will accept the assistance.
He said some parties are trying to aggravate the issue by using it as a propaganda.
“I hope the public will not listen to unverified statements on this issue while the authorities work to resolve it as soon as possible. We do not want to make the situation worse,” Abu Bakar said.
The state housing board issued eviction notices to 22 tenants at the PPR units last October after they were found to be ineligible for the units.
The state housing board took action to evict them last week but upon protests that they were not given time to pack their things, they were given a reprieve until yesterday.
When the state housing board turned up to evict them yesterday, six households refused to move out and tried to block the authorities from locking their doors.
After their premises were sealed, the group set up camp on the ground floor of Komtar to demand that the state government let them continue living in Taman Manggis.
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow has said that there is a long waiting list for the PPR units and those found to be ineligible must vacate to let others rent the units.
The PPR units, with a rental of RM124 per month, are only for those with a household income of below RM1,500, Malaysians and those who do not own homes.
Some of the tenants were found to own properties, earn more than RM1,500 each month and with foreign spouses.