GEORGE TOWN: A Malay village here on the brink of being evicted has been given another three months’ grace today, thanks to a group of politicians who lobbied on the villagers’ behalf.
The group comprised Bukit Bendera Umno chief Ahmad Ismail, Deputy Chief Minister I Mohd Rashid Hasnon and Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari.
Ahmad, the group’s spokesman, said the owner had granted the extra time to the 500-odd residents of Kampung Mutiara to resettle at an apartment block in Seri Tanjung Pinang, 5km down south.
Ahmad said the agreement was made after the owner met Rashid for the first time. According to him, the owner had previously refused to entertain requests to meet anyone.
Ahmad said the owner had also set two conditions – a RM50,000 payment for costs of the delayed eviction, and another RM50,000 as a refundable guarantee that the residents would leave the site.
“We have bought 544 units of homes from Eastern and Oriental (at Seri Tanjung Pinang via federal agency Urban Development Authority) in the form of resettlement units and temporary housing units while we develop permanent housing for the folks next door,” he said.
Ahmad said while the residents were being resettled, a 5.18-acre plot of land next to the existing village would be acquired with the help of federal government funds.
Ahmad said the Penang government in turn would help in legal matters concerning the land acquisition process.
The state government would also approve an apartment project on the acquired site, which is expected to be about 500 units, he said. The project will house not only Kampung Mutiara residents, but also other displaced village folk in Penang.
“With good intentions, Rashid brought the owner to show him the villagers’ new place and our other plans… and he was convinced then.
“He (the owner) also met me this morning, saying he regretted not meeting me sooner,” Ahmad told reporters in Batu Ferringhi today.
He added that Prime Minister Najib Razak had given an allocation of RM10 million for the new apartment project. Ahmad said the allocation had been channelled to federal agency Urban Development Authority (UDA).
He said UDA would request another RM20 million from the prime minister to help develop the project.
Meanwhile, Rashid said the Kampung Mutiara land had been put on notice via the Land Acquisition Act. He said the land would be acquired via Section 4 of the act for public housing.
Rashid said the notice would be withdrawn if the landowner gave time for the residents to move out. The Penang government also agreed to waive five years of quit rent for the landowner.