Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Demolition of some houses raises alarm that area may be cleared for development
GEORGE TOWN: RESIDENTS of Pepper Estate in Tanjung Bungah here fear that they will face the same fate as former residents of Kampung Lorong Buah Pala.
This follows the demolition of four unoccupied homes last week without prior knowledge of other residents in the village.
It is learnt that the demolitions were carried out by the new landowners.
The demolitions had spooked several residents, especially those whose homes are next to the demolished houses.
Duty engineer T. Kumareson, 34, said he returned home from work and found the house next to his torn down.
"Because it is a semi-detached unit, the demolition has damaged my house. It left a big hole on my wall and my house was flooded when it rained," he said yesterday.
Kumareson also related how he tried calling the contractors and representatives of the new landowner, a Kuala Lumpur-based developer, about the damage to his home.
Although it took several days for them to promise him repairs, Kumareson's experience has rallied the neighbourhood, with some even questioning whether the demolitions were carried out accordingly.
Another resident, Ho Soo Chooi, 64, whose family have lived in Pepper Estate since 1992, said they were not squatters.
"All 300 houses here have numbers and we only moved in after we received the certificate of occupancy. We are not squatters," he said, hoping that the government would intervene.
Pepper Estate pro tem committee chairman Ann Rozario said the developer should had been more responsible in carrying out the demolition activities.
She said residents had also prepared a document for the developer or its representatives to sign and repair any damage incurred on the other existing homes during the demolition activities.
"We had also sent a petition signed by 254 residents to the government, raising issues about the lack of affordable housing in this area. We also appealed for the residents to be given a 12-month grace period if the village is to be demolished.
"However, we believe that if the state government is serious about a cleaner and greener Penang, it should help us keep Pepper Estate as it is. There is still a lot of green here and we should preserve it."
Rozario said some residents had been approached by the developer's negotiators, who had gone from house to house offering up to RM35,000 in compensation.
But she said, a survey by the committee revealed that most of the residents wanted to stay on in Pepper Estate.
Rozario said it was likely that the developer would go for an upscale project as it had signed a joint venture deal with a Singaporean lifestyle property developer last month.
"If we cannot stay, then we want the developer to compensate us a house for a house, but we prefer the land to remain as it is, rather than make way for some exclusive high-end project."
Kebun Bunga assemblyman Cheah Kah Peng said residents were upset because they were not being notified of the demolitions.
He said he would meet the developer's representatives today on how to solve the matter amicably.
The representatives also promised to halt demolition activities for the time being.