KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 25 — Fearing their Malay-majority city neighbourhood may soon be overrun by Chinese, a group of residents in Taman Keramat marched to the construction site of upscale condominium project Datum Jelatek here and violently tore down its cladding today.
The group had warned of “bloodshed” last November if the luxury condo project, which sits on the former site of four blocks of Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS) flats owned mostly by Malays, goes ahead.
“This is a 100 per cent Malay area,” Salleh Majid, spokesman for the group, told Malay Mail Online when contacted over the phone.
News portal The Malaysian Insider had reported a violent protest breaking out at the condo project site earlier today, but Salleh said the residents reacted aggressively to defend their homes from “Chinese occupation”.
“I did my own study and I found out that they are trying to attract Chinese from China, Singapore, Taiwan and so on,” he said referring to the condominium project.
He also disapproved of local ethnic Chinese staying in the proposed project, when asked.
“No. We already have this understanding… Keramat was created by Datuk Harun after May 13 to balance the Chinese population in the city with the Malays,” he said.
“We have been through May 13 before, so why set fire to the oil? Why the need to provoke?” he asked, referring to the bloody racial clashes of 1969 that pitted the Malays against ethnic Chinese.
The Keramat area was set up by the then Selangor Mentri Besar Harun Idris in a delicate attempt to achieve racial balance.
Salleh said residents were afraid that the influx of Chinese to the area might force Malays to vacate, similar to other Malay settlements in the city in the past.
The self-professed professional claimed this was a conspiracy by the predominantly Chinese DAP opposition party to open up Keramat to the Chinese, but he did not provide proof to support his allegation.
“This is all a DAP agenda,” Salleh alleged, before adding, “This project came amid insults to the Malays like the ‘Allah’ issue and others.”
Salleh had previously said the planned luxury studio apartment, measuring 538 square feet each, was priced at RM700,000 and was not affordable to the Taman Keramat Malay community.
He claimed the prices were intentionally set high so that only other races could afford to purchase the units.
The Datum Jelatek Project that will be built on a 5.5-acre (2.2 hectares) piece of land had previously been said to be a redevelopment project of the low-cost housing area in Jalan Jelatek after all the residents, who were mostly Malays, had been moved out and given a small compensation.
However, the project was said to have “changed” into a proposal to develop four exclusive buildings comprising offices, a hotel and a shopping centre targeted at the high-income group and corporate sector.
Despite the protest, then Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim had given PKNS the nod to proceed with the project.
Salleh said residents of the demolished flats felt cheated when they found out that the land was used to develop a luxury condominium.
“And what is more painful for most of the third generation of Keramat residents is that luxury condominiums are being built instead of affordable houses for the Malay residents here,” he said.