Senior citizen claims ‘cruelly evicted’ from Penang flat

Taman Manggis flats residents camp outside their unit after being evicted Wednesday afternoon. (Facebook pic)

GEORGE TOWN: A senior citizen at the Taman Manggis PPR flats here claimed she was “cruelly” evicted from her home of 12 years yesterday because she was married to an Indian national.

The 64-year-old Penang-born, who wanted to be known as Ida, said more than 20 government housing officers armed with bolt cutters and escorted by police officers came to her unit and demanded that she leave.

She said while the state government had issued her an eviction notice last October, she appealed against it but without any reply.

“I was cooking lunch at home and next thing you know, these men arrived with armed policemen outside my house. I was told to leave the house in 10 minutes. I was panicking and shaking,” she told FMT.

Ida, who is unemployed, said she had lived at the flat since 2006 with her husband who works as a limo driver and has obtained permanent residency status.

She said her husband, also 64, is four years away from obtaining Malaysian citizenship. They have been married for 22 years and have no children.

Ida sought refuge at her brother’s home in Batu Uban, while her husband could only soothe her nerves over the phone as he was driving tourists around town at that time.

A letter by the Penang Housing Department informing a resident that his appeal against eviction was rejected. (Facebook pic)

Ida first received a letter informing her of her eviction on Oct 10 last year and appealed against it on the same day, but there was no reply until today, she claimed.

Ida, like the occupants of 16 other units at the Taman Manggis flats, was found ineligible to stay at the government rental flat, commonly known by locals as “Flat Seratus Ringgit”, as all units are rented out for RM100 to the hardcore poor.

The Penang government has been cracking down on those found to have exceeded the income limit, as well as those renting out to foreigners and subletting the units, among others.

A notice by the Penang Housing Department saying the residents have been evicted and their padlocks changed. (Facebook pic)

Yesterday, all 17 units were vacated and padlocked, with most families claiming they were given no chance to move their belongings.

The authorities said all affected families were served notices with ample time given to vacate their units. Some 15 other residents also claim they are about to be evicted and have received letters to vacate the premises.

The residents, with nowhere to go, huddled around the lobbies and car park lots of their building until late night.

However, Komtar assemblyman Teh Lai Heng, who is also the chief minister’s political secretary, intervened late last night with the state housing department and negotiated an extension of another seven days.

Evicted residents huddle together at the bottom of the flat complex. (Facebook pic)

“They are required to clear out of their homes by next Wednesday at 10am,” he said when contacted.

Located at Jalan Zainal Abidin, off Macalister and Burma roads on each end, the flat is an 18-storey block with 320 units of homes measuring 650 sq ft each.

Previously, state housing committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo said the state would not allow those who are no longer considered hardcore poor to continue living there.

He said over 2,000 applicants were on a waiting list to stay at government rental flats, and it would be a disservice to allow those who are already well off to continue living there.