Second protest by Batu Estate folk

KUALA LUMPUR: Batu Estate residents for the second time staged a protest in front of City Hall headquarters in Jalan Raja Laut this morning over the impending demolition of their homes.

And they pledged to go on a hunger strike if the demolition, scheduled for Thursday, goes ahead as planned.

The group, numbering around 50 people, demanded that landowner Mayland Development Sdn Bhd go to court to obtain an eviction notice for the three-acre plot in Segambut and not use City Hall and the Emergency Ordinance to demolish their houses.

V. Thilagentram, 22, a spokesman for the residents, said if City Hall does not give any assurance that their homes would not be demolished, the residents would go on their hunger strike, which could go on for three days.

“We are here to meet mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Fuad Ismail, and we are prepared to not eat for the next three days if he refuses to meet us,” Thilagentram, said.

The residents, carrying banners, gathered outside the building at 10am and started their demonstration shortly after, chanting “DBKL, jangan tindas rakyat” (City Hall, do not oppress the rakyat).

About 11.20am, their pleas were heard by City Hall, and an officer allowed them into the building to meet director-general Datuk Salleh Yusop after being informed that the mayor was attending another meeting.

Salleh, at a Press conference after the meeting, told the media that City Hall would not get involved in the matter.

Meanwhile, when contacted yesterday, Deputy Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Minister Datuk M. Saravanan questioned why the residents still protested outside City Hall last Friday.

He also felt City Hall, using the Essential Regulations (Squatters Clearance) 1969, had the right to evict squatters as seen fit. “We can apply this to any squatter in an effort to turn KL into a squatterfree city.”

Stating affected residents should present proof to City Hall clarifying their status as nonsquatters, he added: “If they are indeed not squatters, they should show evidence in terms of their legal status. Only with this proof can we take action accordingly.”

In April last year, Saravanan took on a more conciliatory stance in announcing these former estate workers received offer letters for low-cost units at Batu Muda PPR housing scheme.

The residents had reportedly rejected a RM30,000 offer of compensation for each home, and continued to demand what they were promised earlier in this drawn-out saga — now its its 43rd year.

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