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Elite TTDI residents blocking poor longhouse folks from new homes

LETTER | Amidst the latest court’s decision upholding the validity of the Development Order (DO) for the proposed development in Bukit Kiara and the legally binding master resettlement agreement (MRA), the 100 families predominantly Indians from the Kiara estate are still facing an uphill task and are stuck in getting their permanent homes after more than 36 years of waiting.

The prejudicial objections raised by Residents Associations and management bodies of Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) and Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh to scrap the entire development have caused delays in the development of affordable housing, thus jeopardising the TTDI longhouse settlers’ rights and interests.

It saddens us that all the parties have completely ignored us and our existence. We appear to be less significant than the 3.2ha of trees and joggers in Bukit Kiara estate. Joggers talk about a track to run on while we are just asking for a roof over our heads. Is saving the 3.2ha of land for joggers more important than providing proper homes for the poor, elderly, families with children and grandchildren living in cramped and dilapidated house conditions?

The large 6.9ha of the green portion of Taman Rimba Kiara remains untouched for the joggers. Are we to continue living like this as a marginalised and discriminated community?

While the TTDI longhouse settlers are very grateful and assured that the construction of our new affordable homes will finally proceed with the latest assurance from the Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad under the new government, we are devastated to hear that our fate now will be decided by the cabinet in April.

We had submitted a memorandum to the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P Waythamoorthy last year and also to Hannah Yeoh to highlight our plight and rights. We also had numerous meetings with the Federal Territories Minister and he assured us of our new homes after finding the best possible solution taking into consideration the wishes of all parties, namely TTDI residents, the longhouse community, the developer and DBKL.

But today, we are still deeply unsettled by the various media statements despite the legally binding MRA protecting our rights, the latest court decision upholding the validity of the DO and the developer compromise to scale down the development to 3.2ha and returning the remaining 1.6ha land while the large 6.9ha of the green portion of Taman Rimba Kiara remains untouched for public.

We are also very disappointed that our Hannah Yeoh is more concerned about her political career fighting for only the rich TTDI residents and ignoring the homeless families like us. She just doesn’t care about us and her persistent objections to the development which caused prolonged delays has seriously affected our poor lives.

We have been stuck in this temporary housing for 36 years and we can’t wait any longer as we are in considerable struggle every day with elderly families and children living in these poor conditions because there is simply nowhere to go. How long more do you want us to wait? Who is going to fund our affordable housing here? We want our apartments to be built at the same location.

TTDI residents want a complete victory and do not want to compromise after meeting the joint working committee involving all parties. The rich and powerful TTDI residents just want the project to be completely scrapped and do not want poor people like us to stay in their elite neighbourhood. The fact that there is no compromise on their part sets a bad precedent for a multi-racial society like Malaysia and this should not be encouraged.

In the past 36 years, they had never objected to any residential and commercial developments so why now when it comes to building affordable housing for the longhouse settlers? While they have self- interest in protecting their elite community, don’t forget that we are also part of the TTDI community and we were here first. We, the pioneer settlers numbering 98 families living in the Bukit Kiara Estate were forced to be relocated to longhouses in June 1982 due to massive development in TTDI where all of you are residing and enjoying now.

It is rather unfair for you now to sideline us and go all out to stop us from getting our permanent homes just because of the 3.2ha development, while the large 6.9ha of Taman Rimba Kiara still remains as a green park for the public and joggers. This selfish act causing the prolonged delay is making us all worried amid uncertainties.

We urge and demand that the new Pakatan Harapan government be decisive and ensure swift delivery of our affordable homes to be built at the same location as promised in the MRA while abiding by the court’s decision on the validity of the DO. This effort is also in line with the new government's manifesto of providing more affordable housing for the rakyat. We have waited for 36 years and the elderly people like us may have no chance to see or stay in these new homes due to the prolonged delay.

In June 1982, 98 families living in the Bukit Kiara Estate were forced to be relocated to longhouses in TTDI. The 98 families, also known as the first generation of Bukit Kiara Estate settlers, accepted the offer and signed the MRA with Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan in 2015. Under the MRA, the first generation would receive 100 units of affordable housing for free while the second generation can purchase a similar unit from other 100 units at a discounted rate of RM175,000 each.

The agreement also clearly states that the longhouse settlers do not need to relocate and will remain at the existing houses pending the construction of the 30-­storey affordable apartments by the property developer.

The writer is chairperson of the Pertubuhan Penduduk Perumahan Awam Bukit Kiara representing the residents of TTDI longhouse community.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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