Kepong Squatters

DAP Secretary-General and M.P. for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, today issues the following statement:

Kepong Squatters

Together with the M.P. for Damansara and State Assemblyman for Penchala, Sdr. Hor Cheok Foon, the State Assemblyman for Serdang, Sdr. Yap Pian Hon, Sdr. Lau Dak Kee and Sdr. Khoo Thin Fook, I visited Kepong and the aquatters who are affected by the present squatter clearance exercise.

The Kepong squatter problem is not an isolated local problem, but a national problem, as it is part of a Kuala Lumpur-wide exercise to clear and uproot the life of about 200,000 people – one third of the people of Kuala Lumpur.

In any squatter clearance exercise, the most important part of it is resettlement of the squatters to be evicted. I am shocked that in Kepong case, the authorities seem to be more interested in squatter clearance and hardly bothered about squatter resettlement, regardless of the human price in pain, suffering, hardship and difficulties such an exercise will cause.

The government should realize that in its clearance of squatters, it is uprotting the lives of tens of thousands of people, causing social and human dislocation, human suffering and agony, and it is duty-bound to compensate the squatters by providing suitable alternative accommodation, either low-cost housing or suitable land to build their new homes, together with the resettlement expenses.

A grave and even explosive situation will be created if the authorites seek to ride roughshod over the legitimate wishes of the squatters and use force to clear the squatter without just resettlement schemes.

There is no use forming goodwill councils, whether at the national, state, municipal or local levels, preaching goodwill at cocktails, dinners, tea parties, funfairs, radio and television if the authorities actively spread illwill in its callous disregard of the suffering, misery and hardships of the people by heartlessly uprooting their homes and lives without proper alternative provisions.

This is a major national problem, and the DAP calls on the Central Government to give this problem the attention and consideration it is due. The Authorities should halt any action to evict the squatters in D-section in Kepong, until a comprehensive and satisfactory resettlement scheme has been worked out.

Dato Harun bun Idris, the Selangor Mentri Besar, has said that the Kepong squatters are being cleared as the land is being alienated to a private company at a nominal sum for low-cost housing development.

We are indeed shocked that in such important matter, so little details are to date available. Here is public landing being alienated to a private company at a nominal sum for private development, involving the eviction of tens of thousands of people.

Who is to benefit from such a scheme? The private company, who got the land for a nominal sum, and on whose behalf the authorities are evicting tens of thousands of people without proper resettlement scheme causing untold human suffering and unhappiness, or it is for the squatters themselves?

Is the private company developing the land, which it got for a nominal sum, for public interest, or for the interest of the pockets of a few persons? Who, by the way, are the proprietors or directors of this company? On what basis is it awarded the land on a nominal sum?

The DAP calls on the authorities to give full details about this scheme, as the public and in particular, the squatters whose homes and lives are to be affected, are entitled to know the full particulars of the development scheme for Kepong.

The DAP proposes that the Central Government should set up a special commission to study in particular the problem of resettlement of squatters who are to be affected by squatter clearance exercises, so that the squatters are helped to lead a new life in a new environment after the uprooting. Such a commission should comprise sociologists, economists, politicians, government servants. Until such a commission has come up with a solution to this great human and social problem of resettling squatters, the authorities should desist from summarily destroying squatter homes and the livelihood and lives of tens of thousands of squatters.