Squatters and landless in Selangor

Speech by DAP Serdang State by-election candidate, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, and DAP Organising Secretary, at a DAP by-election rally at Puchong 14 m. s. on Friday 20th December 1968 at 8 p.m.

Squatters and landless in Selangor

Two days ago, I urge the Alliance Selangor State Government to act with humanity and compassion when dealing with poor villagers.

I was referring in particular to the case if 20 odd Chinese and Indian families at Puchong, whom the State Government was going to evict from their land, demolish their houses and destroy their fruit trees without compensation or alternative land sites.

The Alliance Member of Parliament, Mr. Michael Chen, in a statement today claimed that in the case of the three Chinese families, he had taken them to see the Assistant District Officer on the 17th of this month, and the Assistant District Officer had already promised them land for building a house each, and land at 12th m. s. to 14th m. s. for cultivation.

The version I have been given is completely different. Although Mr. Michael Chen had taken them to see the Assistant District Officer on 17th Dec., the Assistant District Officer only said that he would consider giving them land for house-building and cultivation. No promise was given.

Probably Mr. Michael Chen can explain why he only took the families to the District Officer for alternative land a week after their land had been allocated to Malays on December 10.

One would have thought that if the Alliance government really had the interest of the ordinary people at heart, it would have informed the three families well before their land were allocated away on December 10, and found alternative sites for them.

It is clear that the Alliance government had failed in its duty to look after the problems of the ordinary people.

The three families did not know that their land would be taken away from them until the balloting of land on December 10. Up till December 10, they were assured by Mr. Michael Chen personally that they could continue to stay on their land and grow their fruit trees. This was what made them particularly bitter and disillusioned, and explained why Mr. Michael Chen only took them to District Office on 17th December; a week after their land had been parcelled away. This also explained why they had not taken part in the balloting for land on December 10.

But even more important than alternative land sites is reasonable and adequate compensation for the loss of their fruit trees, which totaled over 300 for the three families, and which represented their years of sweat, toil and labour.

It is the State Government which is evicting them, yet the State Government is not giving any compensation. On the contrary, Mr. Michael Chen said he would help and try and get the new occupiers to buy the fruit trees and pay compensation.

This is a clear attempt to evade government responsibility. Why didn’t Mr. Michael Chen ask the State Government to pay compensation, as the State Government is responsible for removing their land and evicting them? We all know that the new occupiers are all poor Malays, who will not be able to afford any compensation. Nor will they be obliged to do so. If the State government does not pay compensation to the affected the families, then they will lose all their fruit trees and their means livelihood without compensation. Is this social justice?

Mr. Michael Chen has asked for suggestions to solve this problem. I suggest the following:

(1) All families affected must be given suitable alternative land sites for dwelling and cultivation, with titles so that they will not be chased about again in a few years;

(2) The state Government must pay compensation to the families for their loss of income from the fruits, trees, based on the number and type of fruit trees per family.

(3) The State Government must also pay compensation to the families to cover expenses in shifting house.

If Mr. Michael Chen really have the interests of his constituents at heart, he will support my three proposals and see them implemented.

I understand that these Malays who have been allocated land of the affected Chinese and Indian families are visiting the land and claiming their pieces of land. I seriously suggest that the State Government should ask them to stop doing this until the above three matters have been resolved, to avoid misunderstanding, heat of temper, friction and conflict.

The problem of squatters and landless people is a major problem in Selangor. In Kuala Lumpur alone, there are 200,000 illegal squatters on state and private land. It is a reflection of the utter failure of the social policy of the Alliance government.

At this very moment, about 2,000 people in Jalan Kuantan and Jalan Seavoy, who had been staying there from 10 to 50 years, have been given notice to quit, without compensation and reasonable alternative land sites. The State government said it was not responsible to look after the welfare of the 2,000 people because they are not staying on State land.

This is an irresponsible attitude. Are not the 2,000 people Malaysians, equally entitled to social justice and government protection?

I call on the Alliance government to work out a formula, along the lines of the three proposals I have made above to solve the problem of the Puchong families, to ensure that squatters in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor are given social justice and protection against eviction and demolition; and without humane compensation.

Audited by: Joyce T. and Faiz M.