‘We’re refugees in our own land’

Bede Hong
Nov 21, 06 8:11pm
Sitting amid the rubbles of what was her home for nearly three decades, a mother of three pondered the fate of her family.And like Sufa Abdul Mabi, some 500 residents of Kampung Berembang in Ampang are also staring at a bleak future after 60 of their houses were torn down during a demolition exercise yesterday.“I don’t know what to do after this. I’m living day to day,” said Sufa (right). The 56-year-old cleaner was also furious with the authorities over what happened.Yesterday morning, the developer, assisted by Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) enforcement personnel and the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU), levelled the houses in the village, which has been around since the 1950s.

Most residents were taken by surprise and lost almost all their possessions. The land was being cleared for the construction of high-rise flats.

Scene of despair

When malaysiakini visited the area today, despair was etched on the faces of villagers who were seen sifting through the rubbles for their belongings.

Some 30 villagers are planning to spend the night at the site of their demolished houses and had set up makeshift shacks and toilets with sheets of zinc and remnants from their windows and cupboards.

“We feel like refugees in our own land,” exclaimed one angry villager.

Meanwhile, Sufa said her loss was around RM40,000. “Whatever that survived the demolition, such as my TV and fridge were ruined in the heavy rain later.”

Sufa also said she could not afford to rent a new place. “I’m living from hand to mouth. Where are those people who are supposed to help us? Where are our elected representatives?”

The villagers, who have been designated as squatters by the state government, were told to move to Kampung Muhibah in Puchong a year ago.

However, they had requested to be relocated closer to their village but this was rejected by MPAJ.

The villagers had also approached the Prime Minister’s Department for help and the department had sent a letter to Selangor Menteri Besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo asking him to put off the demolition exercise to April next year pending a court hearing on the matter.

‘Inhuman’ act

“This is inhuman. They did not think how it would affect our children,” thundered Jamat Harun, who has been living in the village for 32 years.

“There has been no help at all. We have nothing. If it rains at night, we will have to sleep in the rain,” said the 60-year-old father of two.

Another villager, Sabariah Ayub – who with a dozen other women and children are seeking refuge at the village’s surau – is determined to defend the place of worship from being torn down at all cost.

Developers said they would demolish the wooden structure by the end of the week.

“I will stay here and fight to the end. We are not giving up yet,” stressed Sabariah, while the rest nodded their approval.

The disgruntled villagers also filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) today.

In a related development, the 23 residents and activists who were arrested for resisting the demolition were released last night on police bail and told to be present at the Ampang magistrate’s court on Dec 4.

source from Malaysiakini


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