by S. Arutchelvan
Here are 9 reasons why the developer which demolished the hundred year old heritage village Kg Hakka, Mega 9, should not be in cloud 9. They should be ashamed of their actions.
1. The villagers have not exhausted their legal battle.
The Kampung Hakka fiasco has 2 phases according to Mega 9. During Phase 1 the developer had started court proceeding while in phase 2, they have not started any court action. In Phase 1, the Developer won the case on 26 August 2013 but the villagers have appeal this case to the Appeal’s court which has yet to give them a date. A decent developer would wait for the court of Appeal to hear the case but here the Developer was only interested to finish the village before the court of appeal hears the case. The villagers got an interim stay after the developer broke 3 houses on 30 September where 13 people were arrested. The stay application was heard on the 17thOctober 2013, 23th October and a decision was given in favour of the Developer on 24thOctober. This order favouring the developer was not surprising because it was in front of the same judge who granted the developer the eviction order on 26 August. The developer used Order 89 which is a summary proceeding which can only be used when someone trespasses somebody’s land. Here it is joke because the villagers have been paying quit rent, had TOL licence and got proper water and electricity supply. Therefore in proper justice system, Order 89 cannot be applied here but here in this “boleh-land”, the developer got this order. How can villagers who stayed longer than the developer be trespassing his land?
I was told by the police the very next day after the villagers lost the stay order, Friday 25th October, the Developer already wanted to come in and demolish the homes and was pressuring the police. The police were not very keen after the bad publicity they got out of the 30th September forced eviction. Mega 9 kept pressuring the police and the police carried out the eviction again on the 31st October 2013. On the same day, the villagers have already filed a new stay application at the Appeal’s Court Putrajaya but the developer’s lawyer still wanted to carry on with the eviction. So if Dato Ng was a decent developer, he would have at least allowed the stay application to be heard because the papers were submitted even before the eviction took place on the 31st. October. But looks like Dato Ng and Mega 9, only objective was to evict the villagers and destroy the village at all cost.We were told by our lawyers that the developer is to give 5-day notice after he won the stay order but here he did not do it.The sad part was the villagers finally obtained a Stay order in the afternoon at Putrajaya. The Developer’s lawyer was immediately informed by the villagers lawyer but he said that it is too late as his eviction operation is over.
Here the entire police force, the bailiff, the Developer’s lawyer, Dato Ng are all guilty for not allowing time for the stay order to be heard. They were all informed about our court action but they wanted to finish the village before the hearing which they succeeded.
2. Dato Ng was not interested to negotiate.
There were many attempt made to negotiate with Dato Ng and Mega 9. Among the groups were SUHAKAM who felt that there is a housing rights violation. SUHAKAM wanted the State Government to intervene and stop the eviction. State Opposition Leader Anthony Loke said he tried to call Dato Ng four times but he was not interested to pick up his phone, The Negeri Sembilan State Secretary Dato Haji Mat Ali bin Hassan on 21st October said he will call both parties for negotiation. On the 30 th October we were told that the State Secretary was meeting Mega 9 owners on the afternoon of 31st October. Yet, in the morning, the houses were demolished. The Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assemble hall also tried to negotiate and also other people influential within the Hakka community tried, yet it appears that Mega 9 were not in negotiation mood.
3. Why demolish the Community Hall?
What was tragic was also the decision of Dato Ng and Mega 9 to demolish the Community Hall of the old boys association of Chi Chi. Is it because that it was this place where the community used to meet up and discuss their plans? 6 DAP MPs and State Assemblymen were arrested inside this historic building. What was baffling was that, we were discussing that if the three houses get demolished, then maybe we should temporarily house the people in the Community hall. Perhaps the news reached the developer and he had decided to tear down that structure too. Many members of the old boys association were not happy and they were not aware of any notice was given to that hall. So what was the real reason Dato Ng and Mega 9 demolish the community hall? The Community hall would have also been used by those from Phase 2 which there are villagers still living but Dato Ng’s objective seems to be to get rid of it. Here it was the police and not the developer who broke the grill of this building. So much for the police for telling that they are there only to maintain peace.
4. When people not served with court order get evicted.
In most eviction exercise, the bailiff must be 100% sure before he demolish a home. Here the entire eviction was carried out by the Developer’s lawyer. One of the first houses demolished beside the hall belongs to Mr Yong. Kai Hoong whose house has been there for more than 50 years. He was never served with a notice before this. It was a surprise. Ghandi and I approached the police and the Developer’s lawyer but we were prevented and later when we stood to protect the house which was never given a notice before, we were arrested by the police. How come the Developer can demolish a house without a notice and without a specific court order. The Developer claims he can demolish any building in that lot even if they were not served with notices. This is law of the jungle and Dato Ng’s lawyers practice this. How can the bulldozer trample upon a house of more than 50 years without any clear notices? Then what is the reason for the other houses been given a notice in the first place? Why the double standard?
5. The peculiar way this Kampung Hakka eviction takes place.
I have been involved in many eviction throughout the nation. In most cases, the Bailiff will first determine which house need to be demolished based on the court order. He will then instruct the developer to demolish the houses and if we try to stop him, the police can arrest us for preventing the bailiff from carrying out his duties. In most cases, the bailiff is neutral and will listen to the people. He can also postpone evictions. The police normally plays a secondary role. In Kampung Hakka, the bailiff never comes in front a house but it is the Developer’s lawyer who does the work. The Developer lawyer executed the order and we are prevented from meeting the Bailiff. The police works very hard to ensure the demolition and eviction takes place. No negotiation is allowed with the bailiff. So end of the day, the police and the developer’s lawyer execute the order and not the bailiff. The bailiff here only listens to the Developer. So once again Dato Ng and Mega 9 has even covered this last minute reprieve.
6. When Deepavali matters nothing.
I know that Dato Ng does not celebrate Deepavali. Nevertheless I cannot comprehend how he has the heart to demolish one of the houses who would be celebrating Deepavali in two days. I have never seen a more heartless developer. The least he could have done is given them a week after Deepavali. Their house was also more than 50 years old. Here once again there was no respect and humanity.
7. The Current State Government blames its own previous State Government.
On 21 October 2013, I followed two other villagers to meet the State Secretary Dato Haji Mat Ali Hassan. He was the State Secretary, a very powerful position. He said that he was representing the Chief Minister. When I asked him how could the State give the land to a private Developer when there are people still staying there? He answered that if it was the current Government, they would not have done it and blamed it on the previous State Government. I was puzzled as to my knowledge Negeri Sembilan was always ruled by BN. He then explained what he meant was who is running the state. His answer seems to imply that if the Current MB was in charge, he would not have alienated the land to a private Developer. This again poses a question how much money would the Private Developer spend to get a State land especially one which has a village in it? Dato Ng being a Hakka community leader, wasn’t he aware how the Hakka village land went to private developer? Being a local in Mantin, I am sure Dato Ng knows how the land was obtained. Did he play any role in protecting the interest of the villagers then?
8. Heritage Village.
Many people talk proudly that Kampung Hakka as a heritage village. They talk about history. They have a temple and school which they claim dates back to 100 years ago. They have some very old photograph to prove this. I was told by someone that if the people involved were also Hakka, then we can resolve this issue by talking. That is the tradition. In this village, 98% of the people are Hakka. How come here tradition does not hold water? Mega 9 plans to build 76 low cost houses, 24 town houses, 193 units of shops and offices, a food court and have allocated land for a surau and retained the Chinese school. It seems to imply that there is no desire by Dato Ng to preserve this village as a heritage village. The development project is purely to sell and make money
Dato Ng and Mega 9 speak highly about the massive compensation they have paid. To date, they have paid compensation ranging from RM 1,000 to RM 8,000. Now after more resistance, he has raised the compensation to around RM 12,000. What is so great about this? He says the people can buy his houses. Why not at least give them a low cost house free. There are only around 45 of them left. There is a saying that charity starts from home. Dato Ng has talked about the many charity and money he has spent in the community. If you really want to make the world a better place, he should first talk about charity of this Hakka community and it is within his means.
10. The Kampung Hakka issue is not racial.
Many people say that this village got hit because it is not a Malay village. Some say the police are brutal because it involves non Malays. On the 31st October, one Chinese, one Muslim and one Sikh family houses were demolished. There wasn’t any racial element. This battle was between the rich corporate company evicting poor villagers. In Kampung Berembang, it was Malay companies who cheated the poor Malay villagers there. So please don’t turn kampong Hakka into a racial issue. It is just a question of profit before people. Land grab by the rich against the interest of the poor.
With this nine points, this is just the beginning of a long struggle. We will not give Mega 9 their cloud 9. We will take them on, even though it is not going to be easy. The people of Kampung Hakka are now more than determined to fight till the end. Dato Ng and mega 9 has burned all the bridges of good faith. They will continue to use the court, the police and their money to buy people and loyalty. The people for now have planned to build and rebuilt. They have tasted the brutal reality of forced eviction and how there is so little justice if you are not rich and powerful. Mega 9 has been winning the battles so far but the War is still far from over. We will continue fighting till the last house, till the last structure, till the last arrest.