19 settlers on wakaf land in Butterworth agree to move out

Light Strike Force men forming a barricade at Wakaf Abdul Cauder in Butterworth, Penang.

BUTTERWORTH: The 19 families at Wakaf Abdul Cauder on Jalan Mengkuang here have agreed to an offer of temporary homes, free of charge, from the Penang Islamic Council (MAINPP).

PSM activist R Karthiges, who has been negotiating with MAINPP on behalf of the villagers, said the families will stay at these homes until an apartment project is completed on the land they are occupying.

He said this was a “small win” for the 19 families as up till today they had been involved in skirmishes with the riot police ready to evict them.

The council had earlier given the 19 families up to Sunday to move out.

The council has since restored electricity and water supply, which was cut on Wednesday.

The families had earlier demanded that they be paid at least RM700 to rent homes, instead of just RM500, as they complained they could not find homes for that price.

The 19 were those remaining from the original 50 settlers who had been told to vacate their homes so that the council could proceed with its planned apartment project. These settlers will be given a free home there.

MAINPP intends to build 470 low-medium-cost apartments. These 22-storey blocks will be built on a 2.7-acre site.

MAINPP president Abdul Malik Abul Kassim had said the forced eviction could not be avoided as the issue had dragged on since 2010, with close to RM3 million spent in legal fees alone since then.

He said council had also offered a one-time RM4,000 moving-out allowance and RM3,500 moving-in allowance for those staying on the wakaf land.

PSM’s R Karthiges (in red) talking to the villagers.

Commotion with police

Separately, two PPBM Youth leaders were arrested by police this morning for obstructing their work at the village yesterday. This resulted in a minor commotion.

State PPBM Youth chief Muhammad Shameer Sulaiman said his deputy, Zikry Zulkifli, and national PPBM Youth exco member Asyraf Mustaqim are currently being held at the Kepala Batas police station and are expected to be freed tomorrow.

He said the two men were at the frontlines between police and the villagers and were caught in a heated protest, with “bahasa kasar” (coarse language) being used.

Shameer said following a scuffle, villagers at the back threw stones and the two PPBM men standing in front were caught in between them and the police.