Residents near RTS land resist second eviction bid by Johor developer

Kim Teng Park residents with lawyer Ambiga Sreeenevasan (6th from right).

PETALING JAYA: Residents of one of Johor Bahru’s oldest neighbourhoods, which is bordering the land slated for the Rapid Transit System (RTS) that will connect to Singapore, fear the loss of their homes as a developer renews its bid to acquire the land.

Kim Teng Park residents now hope that the state government would stop the plan to evict them, the second time they are facing eviction after a similar plan was thwarted in 2015 following the intervention of then Johor Bahru MP Shahrir Samad.

In that year, the Land Office had issued a notice informing its mostly elderly residents that the entire Kim Teng Park would be acquired by a company known as City Centre Transformation (JB) Sdn Bhd.

This time, the Land Office invoked Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act 1960 to issue a notice that the land may be acquired by the same company for redevelopment.

“Again no reasons have been given and no dialogue sessions with the residents have been called,” said Kim Teng Park Residents’ Association spokesman S Velasamy.

Residents have appointed veteran lawyers Derek Fernandez and Ambiga Sreenevasan to fight their case. An application has been filed to set aside the intended acquisition.

Velasamy said the residents want the state government to be transparent and explain the reasons for the intended acquisition.

He said they have also approached current Johor Bahru MP Akmal Nasrullah Mohd Nasir and Stulang assemblyman Andrew Chen for help, as well as written letters to all PH assemblymen in the state, executive councillors, Menteri Besar Dr Sahruddin Jamal and Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Kim Teng Park residents with PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, (2nd from right) Johor Bahru MP Akmal Nasir and (4th from left) Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim, after giving Anwar a copy of their letter.

“We have heard so much about land grabs and we are distressed as we do not know what is happening or is going to happen.

“There are around 1,500 people staying here and the vast majority is over 60. If they lose their homes, where else can they go? At their age, they won’t be able to get a bank loan for a new home.”

Velasamy said the residents did not want to move out as Kim Teng Park was convenient for many of them.

The Sultan Aminah Hospital and houses of worship for different religions are all located within 5km.

Kim Teng Park, he added, was a legitimate residential development built in 1959 and was not a squatter area.

The neighbourhood borders the land slated for the RTS link that will connect Bukit Chagar in Johor Bahru to Woodlands in Singapore.

“We want the land acquisition to be set aside, we do not want to move, but if the government proceeds with the acquisition, we want them and the benefiting party to talk to us and give us fair compensation.”

He said any compensation should be based on the value of the land according to market rates.

“Now, we are a residential area, but if they are going to acquire the land for commercial purposes, then the valuation should be based on the commercial value of the land.”

FMT is attempting to contact City Centre Transformation (JB) for comment.

Meanwhile, Johor Bahru MP Akmal Nasir said the state government should obtain feedback from the residents.

“They have a right to air their views and have them considered.”

Presently, he said, there was no confirmation on the nature and purpose of the proposed redevelopment.

“I am seeking feedback from relevant state agencies and a meeting with the MB on this.”