About 2,000 people residing on the land between Jalan Kuantan and Jalan Seavoy, of about 230 houses, have been given one week’s notice by the Setapak Tin Land Syndicated Ltd. and Ban Hock Hin Mining Ltd. to demolish their houses tomorrow, 13th December 1968.
The resident were asked to shift to Subang, more than 20 miles from their present residence, without compensation whatsoever.
The majority of the resident are hawkers and construction workers. Now they are threatened with the destruction of their homes, where many have stayed from 10 to 50 years, the disruption of their means of livelihood, and even the deprivation of educational opportunities for their children, for the nearest schools to the proposed Subang site are five to ten miles away.
It is inhuman and heartless for any party to demand their eviction, and demolition of their houses, within a week. The lawyer of the residents, Dato S.P. Seenivasagam, has secured a temporary injunction against the demolition order for two weeks.
I do not wish to touch on whether the residents have legal right to remain on the land, or whether they are illegal squatters, as this is the subject of court proceedings at present.
But I wish to touch on the human and social angle of this problem. The 2,000 people cannot be treated as animals. There are at least 200,000 people in the Kuala Lumpur area alone who are somewhat in the same plight as the 2,000 people, and every one of them is entitled to basic human rights of decent shelter, livelihood and educational facilities for their children.
If these 2,000 people can be evicted summarily without reasonable compensation and reasonable alternative sites, then the 200,000 people in Kuala Lumpur in similar plight will soon face the same fate.
I am not talking about the legal rights, but human and social rights.
I understand that the Alliance leaders, when approached by representatives of the 2,000 people for help, said that the government cannot help because the land in dispute is not state land.
This is evasion of government responsibility, and the attitude of an irresponsible government.
A government is elected and paid by the people to look after the welfare and problem of the people. If the people are threatened with loss of their houses and livelihood, it is the duty of a responsible government to step in to help the ordinary people.
Otherwise, what is a government for? Why do the people pay taxes to upkeep the government for?
The problem of the 2,000 people are facing is part of a larger socio-economic problem, which vigorous low-cost housing programme and land-allocation schemes can go a long way to solve.
The whole country will watch the plight of the 2,000 people with close interest, because if they can be evicted without reasonable compensation and reasonable alternative sites, then there is no social justice in Malaysia.
We urge the Selangor State Government to regard this as a social problem, which it is the responsibility of a elected government to concern itself and find reasonable solution and settlement.
Audited by: Joyce T. and Faiz M.