Statement by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at a press conference in Klang on Sunday, 19th March 1972 at 2 p.m
The 1600 people at Jalan Nanas, Klang – in danger of limbs and lives
I visited Sementa State Constituency this morning to find out the constituency work of our State Assemblyman for the area, and to learn about the problem in the area.
In the course of my tour, I visited the slum houses at Jalan Nanas, and met the people there.
I am shocked and horrified by the dangerous condition of the slum houses, which are not only a fire hazard, but a positive threat to the limbs and lives of the 1600 people who stay in the 70-odd slum houses there.
The agony and plight of the 1600 people at Jalan Nanas had been a long and painful one. The people there are poor and from the labouring class, mostly hawkers, factory workers, old-job labourers and even unemployed.
These people have been served with notice of eviction by the private landlord. All that these people ask for is adequate compensation by the private landlord and ample time for them to find alternative accommodation, such as low-cost government housing.
The private landlord, however, has ordered gangs of people to demolish the houses. It must be understood that these slum houses are already by themselves quite dilapidated, and if in a row of houses, one or two among them are demolished, the rest are in danger of collapse for loss of such support.
I have visited the houses, and seen for myself how dangerous many of these houses have become as a result of such demolitions. There was one house where the woodwork and wall are so precarious that any time, the whole house may collapse, lading to the collapse of neighbouring houses, and kill or main the people and children there.
It is criminal for the landlord to wantonly demolish the houses, and give rise to a situation where the other houses will cave in, causing human injury and even death. It is only yesterday that in Jalan Tepi Sungai three people were killed by collapse of houses.
Yet the people in Jalan Nanas continue to live in these houses under such dangerous conditions. This is not because the people there love to live dangerously, but are compelled to do so because of their poverty.
I understand that the District Officer had been approached by the people at Jalan Nanas about the dangerous condition of the houses created by the demolition of houses by the landlord, and that the District Officer had instructed the landlord not to demolish the houses.
This instruction of the District Officer has been flouted, and the Sementa State Assemblyman, Sdr. Chua Kow Eng, will take up the matter with the D.O.
I would here urge the government departments concerned to intervene to protect the human lives involved in the slum.
I have said just now that the action to demolish houses is ‘criminal’ and I use this word deliberately, for the lives of the 1600 people are endangered.
If any other house collapse, causing human injury of death, as a result of the demolition by the landlord, then the people must institute legal proceedings against the landlord for criminal negligence, and the DAP will give the people there full support.
Further, the landlord and even the government departments concerned, unless they take swift remedial action, must be fully responsible for any human lives and injuries caused.
I must confess I have seldom been so moved by the plight of the poor, their misery and helplessness as this morning, and angered by the heartlessness of the rich and wealthy.
I call on the people of Klang to give this matter grave attention, for the people of Klang have responsibility to see that such shameless injustice and inhuman disregard of the plight is stopped, as it will otherwise be a mark of shame to the town and townsmen.