Will Perak squatter issue ever be solved?

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On Friday night, DAP Ipoh Barat members and I met with the residents Kg Tai Lee to hold discussions on finding a solution to the plight that they have been facing.

There is a pending court case to evict them in the High Court. The case has been heard for three days and is now fixed for final hearing in September.

The residents had built their houses with assurances by the initial land owner that they could stay there as long as they wished.

The village, which is located on private land within the Ipoh City area, is now comprised of 50 houses and 75 families who are the third generation Kg Tai Lee residents.

All the residents are from the lower income group. They are all worried that they will be evicted and become homeless.

Just before the 2008 general election, the residents were informed by the Ipoh Land Office that they would be relocated in Pusing, but this has remained an empty election promise till today.

There were also repeated assurances that the residents would be given state housing lots, but all these too have never materialised.

Sometime on Jan 3, 2010, there was a gotong-royong event organised by the state government with the Kg Tai Lee residents. At the gotong-royong, the Perak Mentri Besar Zambry Abdul Kadir ordered the local council of Ipoh (MBI) to find a solution to settle the issue faced by the residents.

However, nothing has happened so far.

We have written to both the mayor and the mentri besar of Perak to find a permanent solution to the plight of the residents and let’s see if the BN government can live up to their ‘Janji di Tepati’ slogan.

In fact, sometime in 2000, the former mentri besar of Perak, Tajol Rosli Ghazali, had assured all that Perak would be squatter-free by the year 2005. But 2005 has passed by and there are thousands still in squatter settlements in Perak.

Recently Zambry has apparently promised 2015 as the new date for Perak to be declared squatter-free. The ‘goalpost’ keeps on changing all the time!

Presently there are over 14, 000 squatters in Perak, according to the Perak Economic Planning Unit. When will the issue of squatters be ever resolved?

Obviously, the state government lacks political will power to attend to the homeless.

It’s no use declaring a date which the state government cannot fulfill. What is needed is real commitment to a ‘blue print’ policy decision on this matter.

We suggest that the state government set up a high level committee to formulate a new policy and ways to settle squatter issues in Perak.

M KULA SEGARAN is MP for Ipoh Barat and DAP national vice-chairperson.

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