Thursday, August 18, 2011

Glimmer of hope for villagers facing eviction (FMT)

Athi Shankar August 18, 2011 Six villagers from Balik Pulau who are facing eviction by a developer have been given a chance to make their defence in court.
GEORGETOWN: There is a glimmer of hope for six villagers who have taken on a developer which is trying to evict them from their land to make way for a residential-cum-property development.

The six villagers, who have been staying at their Pondok Upeh homes in Balik Pulau for over 50 years, will now get an opportunity to have their say in court.

A magistrate’s court here today fixed Sept 8 to hear their statements of defence.

Magistrate Mohd Hidayat Wahab ordered this during mention of an application by the developer , Evergreen One Development Sdn Bhd, to obtain a court order to evict the villagers.

Represented by lawyer Sumarni Saad, the developer has also requested the court to fix the quantum of compensation to be paid to the villagers.

The six villagers are challenging the developer’s summons by demanding an improved compensation.

The defendants are O Arumugam, G Neelavathi, M Jegadeesan, K Muniandy, Khuik Ah Nai @ Ani Abdullah and Quan Yam Sen.

They are represented by counsel Yusmadi Yusoff, who is also the Balik Pulau Member of Parliament.

The villagers were issued an eviction order by the developer in April 2010.

Originally the developer offered cash compensation of between RM10,000 and RM16,000 each, which the defendants rejected.

Each of them instead asked for a low-cost flat unit to be built in the project as compensation.

But the developer rejected their request and instead made a counter offer, improving the cash compensation to between RM14,000 and RM20,000 in August last year.

However, the villagers rejected the compensation and insisted on their demand for a flat unit each.

Yusmadi said the Pondok Upeh case was just an indication of the social problems caused by the sudden surge in urbanisation of Balik Pulau.

He said currently he was handling some 100 cases pertaining to eviction and compensation issues of Balik Pulau residents affected by the fast-growing development.

Yusmadi has started a public interest impact fund to financially aid the villagers in their litigations and welfare needs.

“I hope well-wishers would donate to this fund to help these poor villagers,” he told reporters in the court building.

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