Drama unfolds as crowd blocks PM’s aide from leaving Komtar

The crowd gathering at the Tek Soon Arcade lobby, near the Komtar exit to prevent the prime minister’s political secretary, Abu Bakar Yahya from leaving.

GEORGE TOWN: Tensions ran high when a group of about 100 people gathered outside Komtar tonight to protest against the eviction of 22 families from the Taman Manggis Housing for the Poor (PPR) flats.

They tried to block a vehicle carrying the prime minister’s political secretary, Abu Bakar Yahya, with a one-tonne lorry and forming a human barricade when they could not get a satisfactory answer from him on whether the families would be resettled elsewhere.

Abu Bakar, who had earlier said he was on a “fact-finding mission”, had emerged from Komtar at 7.50pm after meeting state officials.

He spoke to those who were evicted and their families, who had gathered at the Tek Soon Arcade lobby near Komtar’s exit, armed with pillows and mattresses, since they were forced to move out yesterday.

Abu Bakar told them all their concerns had been noted and proceeded to leave after five minutes.

As he was leaving, they were joined by a group, believed to be NGO members, who demanded to know whether a solution had been reached.

He told them he was looking into the matter.

When the group wanted to know if those evicted would be resettled, Abu Bakar did not answer, and this angered them.

They began to hurl expletives at him and demanded an answer but he walked away, escorted by Komtar security guards and policemen, to the car park.

The protesters then tried to prevent his car from leaving. A one-tonne lorry was parked at the multi-level car park exit at Tek Soon Street with the crowd forming a human barricade.

When a PPBM Youth leader tried to calm them down, the group told him to leave.

A number of patrol cars arrived just in time and police dispersed the crowd.

Abu Bakar then left in his car escorted by five police patrol cars.

The 22 households were evicted from the PPR after they were found to have been ineligible, mainly due to higher income and longstanding arrears.