19 families face eviction from Muslim endowment land slated for high-rise project

PSM’s R Karthiges talking to the families who face eviction from Wakaf Abdul Cauder in Butterworth tomorrow.

GEORGE TOWN: PSM has urged the Penang government and religious authorities to look into the plight of 19 families who face eviction from Muslim endowment land in Butterworth tomorrow.

PSM activist R Karthiges said they are part of the original 50 families who lived at Wakaf Abdul Cauder along Jalan Mengkuang in Butterworth.

Among them are five families who lived at an adjacent village.

Karthiges said the Penang Islamic Religious Council (MAINPP), which owns the one-hectare land, wants to build a 22-storey block of low-medium-cost apartments, consisting of 470 units.

This includes replacement homes for all the 50 families.

Karthiges said the families were offered a one-time moving-out allowance of RM4,000 and moving-in allowance of RM3,500, besides RM500 as monthly rent, until the project is completed.

While the others accepted the offer, the 19 families stayed on because they felt the RM500 would not be enough for them to rent a house.

“Initially, almost everyone didn’t want to leave because the money offered was not enough.

“Eventually, many felt the pressure as MAINPP had obtained a vacant possession order and issued letters to the families to leave,” Karthiges said.

He said MAINPP should consider increasing the rent money to RM700 to enable the families to find suitable accommodation in Butterworth.

If the council considers the sum as too high, it should build temporary transit homes for them, he said.

“More importantly, all the 50 families should be given an official letter stating that they will get a home each,” he said.

Karthiges said MAINPP should withdraw the bailiff’s notice until a settlement is reached.

When contacted, MAINPP president Abdul Malik Abul Kassim said the eviction could not be avoided because the matter had dragged on since 2010.

Malik said the council had applied for a vacant possession order, which was enforced in December last year, after talks with the remaining families had failed.

He said the enforcement order had been postponed three times since an original court order was obtained on Feb 28, 2014.

He added that MAINPP had paid more than RM2.6 million in legal fees and allowances over the matter.