Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sept 8 court hearing for villagers served with eviction notices (the Sun, 19 August 2011)

Aaron Ngui

BALIK PULAU (Aug 18, 2011): The Magistrate Court here fixed Sept 8 for the hearing of defence by six households in Balik Pulau against eviction notices served on them to make way for a residential development project.

Magistrate Mohd Hidayat Wahab set the date after their lawyer Yusmadi Yusoff had filed motions of defence for the six parties who live in Kampung Pondok Upeh, Balik Pulau, today.

The notices were issued on May 21 after the developer, Evergreen One Development Sdn Bhd, was vested with power of attorney by the two owners of the land at Lot 485, Mukim 6 in the Southwest District.

The plaintiff alleged that the defendants had no rights to the land, as well as rights to ask for compensation.

The company also claimed that the defendants did not pay rent to the landowners, and that the landowners did not receive any payment of rent from the defendants.

It also alleged that the defendants had rejected the ex-gratia payment as the amount was not enough to purchase a low-cost home each, while the plaintiff maintains that the compensation was fair.

Met outside the court, Yusmadi, who is also Balik Pulau MP, said the defendants had been staying in the houses since the 1960s.

“I have known them since I was young. Some of them have been my neighbours, some of them have been my school bus drivers,” he said, adding that he was representing them pro bono.

Yusmadi claimed his law firm is handling about a hundred such cases which were “waiting for (the) right time to (appear in) court.”

The sleepy district has seen a rise in eviction cases as property developers increasingly turn their attention to the vast tracts of undeveloped land on the southern-western side of the island.

“These cases are in Teluk Kumbar, Sungai Pinang, Kuala Kampung Baru, Sungai Burung, Pulau Betong and Kampung Jalan Baru amongst others,” Yusmadi said.

He also said he would set up a fund to assist individuals affected by similar eviction cases.

“The fund is not only for legal expenses but to ensure that their welfare and social aspects are taken care of,” he said adding that whoever who wished to contribute could contact him.

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