SHAH ALAM, Oct 6 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad described the undeveloped Malay enclave of Kampung Baru as a blemish at the centre of Kuala Lumpur.
Dr Mahathir said the government aimed to develop the area as the old and decrepit homes occupying the area were a poor representation of the Malay community’s current achievements and potential.
“Kampung Baru is like ‘kudis’ in the middle of Kuala Lumpur that is filled with skyscrapers,” he said, using the Malay word for scabies skin infestation that is often used as a euphemism for eyesores.
“There, we found old homes with rusted zinc roofs and this does not reflect the position of the Malays or the possibilities that they could just as successful as anyone else,” he said in a press conference after delivering the keynote at the Malay Dignity Congress (Kongress Maruah Melayu).
Last month, Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad announced that the government is ready to offer an average of RM850 per square feet (psf) to acquire land from owners in Kampung Baru.
However, Kampung Baru residents are still apprehensive over the deal, stating that they were not given a fair offer as land in the vicinity that included the Kuala Lumpur City Centre was valued at over RM2,000 psf.
Earlier during the congress, Dr Mahathir coincidentally lamented that some Malay owners were eager to sell off their land for a quick profit.
When asked about this in relation to Kampung Baru, Dr Mahathir said it was different as they would be selling to a single government agency that would acquire the land with the aim of redeveloping the enclave.
“The Kampung Baru residents are not selling the land to other people but to a government agency that will develop the area,” he said.
When pressed to say if the government would improve its offer to Kampung Baru landowners, Dr Mahathir responded by saying, “The people of Kampung Baru will decide the price, not the press.”