Residents evicted from nearly 200-year-old village

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PETALING JAYA: Some 50 people in the nearly 200-year-old Kampung Siam in Pulau Tikus, Penang, will have to vacate their homes soon after they lost their appeal against eviction last month.

Residents of the living heritage, located on an acre of land in Lorong Bangkok, Pulau Tikus, received eviction notices from the new landowner, Five Star Heritage Sdn Bhd, in April 2014 with a compensation offer of RM30,000 for each family.

When the residents staged a protest against the eviction, the developer applied for a court order to enforce it instead.

The verdict from the High Court in August 2014 was in favour of the developer and the subsequent residents’ appeal to the Court of Appeal was dismissed in February this year.

Now the residents, who occupy 11 houses and 10 shops, will have to vacate a village they had occupied for more than seven generations, so a mega hotel project can go ahead.

The residents however as well as Pulau Tikus representative Yap Soo Huey have appealed to the developer to allocate residential units for them so they can continue living there.

“The community’s legacy will be forgotten once they leave and make way for the new development,” said Yap.

Residents of Kampung Siam are of Siamese descent, who had lived there since the 1800s.

A row of business lots, which have existed for 60 to 100 years along Jalan Burmah, near the village, will also be demolished to make way for the mega hotel.

Since the eviction will affect the livelihood of the businessmen, Yap appealed to the developer to also assist them to find alternate business premises.

“If these businessmen can’t find alternate premises, they might end up closing down their business and looking for alternate means to support their families,” said Yap.

Elderly villagers recalled that their land was granted to the Siamese and Burmese communities by the East India Company on behalf of Queen Victoria in 1845.

The land was to be held in trust by four trustees who were elected and appointed from amongst the Siamese-Burmese community.

The village is part of a four-acre piece of land with several heritage landmarks such as the Buddhist temple Wat Chaiyamangalaram that houses a statue of the Reclining Buddha.

There is also a Siamese cemetery within the grounds.