GEORGE TOWN, March 11 — After nine long years, four court orders and RM3 million spent, the Penang Islamic Religious Council (MAINPP) today served its final two-weeks eviction notice to the last house on Tanah Wakaf Abdul Cauder in Butterworth.
To the council president Datuk Abdul Malik Abul Kassim, a lot of time and resources have been spent to evict 46 settlers on the land dedicated for Muslim use.
“If all of the 46 families moved out in 2010, we would already have a low-cost flat built on the land and 470 families would be living there,” he said in a press conference today.
When MAINPP first issued eviction notices to the 46 in 2010 with generous settlements, Abdul Malik said 32 agreed to it.
Each family was offered a free 1,000 sq ft low-cost unit, RM500 monthly rental to rent a transition house pending completion of the low-cost housing, RM4,000 moving out allowance and RM3,500 moving back in allowance.
The remaining 14 families had refused to move out which led to a nine-year court battle to evict them.
“We applied for four court orders to evict them and at the same time, we continued paying rental for those who had moved out so this is costing us over RM3 million to resolve this issue,” he said.
He said the 14 families were effectively depriving more than 400 Muslim families from living in the planned low-cost flats on the land.
Today, MAINPP served its final two weeks’ notice to the last house on the site.
He said the occupants have two weeks to deliver vacant possession before they demolish the house.
He brushed off allegations that MAINPP had cruelly evicted the residents especially after so many years of negotiations and legal recourse.
He said they even offered temporary homes to some of those evicted to rent but some had taken the offer while some refused it.
“All who finally agreed to move were immediately paid RM4,000 and we will start paying them the monthly RM500 too,” he added.
He said MAINPP had given the settlers one of the best offers in eviction cases in the country.
He claimed some groups had been goading the settlers to fight back against MAINPP over the eviction in the past few weeks.
It also led to a scuffle last Thursday when MAINPP, with the presence of police and court bailiff, moved to demolish houses on the land.
Abdul Malik said MAINPP officers were injured and a policeman fractured his leg in the scuffle.
The police have since arrested 11 men over the obstruction of the demolition works.
MAINPP is planning to build a 470-unit, 22-storey low-medium cost apartment on the 2.7-acre land.
Abdul Malik hoped that they can clear out the final house and finally submit plans for approval and put up hoarding around the land.