Sungai Buloh Leprosy centre grounds still overrun by illegal immigrants

A view of the Sungai Buloh settlement where leprosy patients were once segregated and isolated from the outside world. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng
A view of the Sungai Buloh settlement where leprosy patients were once segregated and isolated from the outside world. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 12 — Suspected illegal immigrants continue to occupy abandoned government homes at the National Leprosy Control Centre (PKKN) in Sungai Buloh three years after this was publicly exposed.

According to Berita Harian, the squatters are using the 227ha site to plant grass for landscaping and run nurseries but it is unclear if they are there on their own accord or being paid to do so.

The newspaper reported today that most of the houses have electricity supply, while washing machines were seen in some.

PKKN has been labelled as a restricted area since 1926, in order to control the spread of leprosy, right up till 1996 when no new cases of leprosy were reported.

Three years ago, Berita Harian exposed illegal immigrants staying in 15 houses at PKKN, using the water and electrical facilities provided for the leprosy patients previously.

It prompted the Immigration Department and Health Ministry to conduct raids on the site and demolish several houses to avoid further incursions.

A source told Berita Harian that since those raids, however, no further enforcement or maintenance has been undertaken.

“Despite its remote location, the locals around the area are uneasy with this current situation as there’s an influx of foreigners who are using the place,” the source said.

“Many questions have been asked including whether the inhabitants there are being protected by someone who is immune from the law.”

The government has sought for the PKKN to be listed as a Unesco world heritage site.

However, the illegal immigrants occupying the site could hamper this.

“We have to protect and preserve the site so that it does not deteriorate,” said National Heritage Department World Heritage Division Director Mohd Syahrin Abdullah.

“Right now, there are issues regarding the land that we’re trying to sort out,” he continues, while adding that his agency are currently filing the necessary forms to Unesco to declare PKKN as a world heritage site.

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