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Thursday, October 31, 2013

6 DAP reps, Arul arrested as gov't tears down Kg Hakka

Six DAP representatives including Seremban MP Anthony Loke and Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) secretary-general S Arutchelvan were among the protestors today arrested for defending against the demolition of Kampung Hakka Mantin in Negri Sembilan.

NONEAt 11.30am Arutchelvan was arguing with the police who were cordoning off an area for demolition, when he and another PSM activist with him, Ghandi, were handcuffed and taken away in a police vehicle.

About 50 bystanders in the predominantly Chinese new village shouted various vulgarities at the police as the arrest took place.

At around noon, the six DAP representatives were also arrested for occupying the SRJKC Chi Chi alumni clubhouse that was about to be torn down.

After a three minute warning the police entered the building and arrested Loke, along with Rasah MP Teo Kok Seong, Nilai rep J Arulkumar, Senawang rep P Gunasekaran, Bahau rep Chew Seh Yong and Temiang rep Ng Chin Tsai and several others.

NONEDemolition of the building began shortly after. 

On Sept 30 Arutchelvan and 11 others were arrested when they first attempted to halt the demolition of the historic century-old village, after which an attempt was made to obtain a judicial review.
The eviction and demolition is to make way for the first phase of a mixed-development project by the developer, Mega 9 Housing Sdn Bhd.
Arrests continue
In a third wave of arrests, Suaram executive director E Nalini (below, in black), Kampung Hakka village head Chong Tza Yew, and at least six other activists and villagers were detained at another building earmarked for demolition.

NONEThe group were occupying the building's entrance when police broke up the group at about 1pm, and then cut the locks to reach the residents.

The residents exited the house then left in a car while workers emptied the building of furniture and appliances. 
“I am proud and respect DAP and PSM for stepping forward and speaking up for us to the police. They were willing to come to my front door to show support but ended up getting arrested,” said Reena Sir Muhammad when met later. She lives at the house where Nalini was arrested. 

Also living in the same house is Sidek Muhammad Medan Khan, who claims to have been born in 1951 in the village but is stateless. He also suffers from impaired mobility due to a congenital disease and relies on a walking stick to move about. 

“After all this is settled, only then can we help him get his citizenship,” said his nephew Mohd Amin Sir Muhammad before the demolition. 

NONE“We are not free. There are disturbances here and there and he is afraid of leaving his house. Why? He is afraid of his house would get demolished. Where would he live?” 

There was no confrontation when authorities reached the third and last occupied building that is slated for demolition at 2.10pm. 

The building was occupied by the family of Amarjit Kaur, 49, who says the house was built by her grandfather. 

“I am too upset and very disappointed. At least they should give us some time and let us celebrate Deepavali (on Saturday). This is our last Deepavali here,” she said when met this morning.
In their latest report, PSM said up to 19 have been detained in total, including several villagers.
22 houses slated for demolition

NONEAccording to a lawyer representing the developer, who only identified himself as Sharif, a total of 22 buildings are slated for demolition today, of which three were occupied. 

As of 3.30pm, a group of activists and locals have gathered to protest against the demolition and the arrests outside the Nilai police district headquarters, where the detainees are held. 

When met by reporters before the demolition started, Loke, who is also the opposition leader in the Negri Sembilan state assembly, said Order 89 from the Seremban High Court in effect declared the villagers squatters and gives the developer legal standing to demolish the houses. 

NONEHe said the village land, some of which previously had temporary occupancy licenses issued to residents, was alienated to private developers in the 1990s and then changed hands several times without the residents’ knowledge. 

He said while the state has power to alienate land, it should have been given to the residents who had been occupying the area for generations, instead of private developers. 

“That is the sad part. Whenever there is development in an area where the original residents do not have land titles, you will end up like this. 

NONE“Of course there are other cases where a settlement was achieved through compensations and so on, but it is not always the case, as is happening today. When negotiations break down, they face eviction by force,” he said. 

Loke added that he had proposed at the state legislative assembly that the state government leverage on its influence, such as its prerogative to approve or reject development projects, to force the developer to the negotiating table with residents until an amicable solution is reached. 

He said the strategy had worked in getting new houses for 90 percent of residents in Kampung Buah Pala in Penang, but was not taken up here.
Stay of execution
At 8.30pm, all detainees were released. By then, about 80 people had gathered outside the gates of the police station to welcome them with a candlelight vigil.
dap and ngo rep arrested at kpg hakka demolition 311013In his speech, Loke said the developer had acted excessively because he had told the court bailiff, the police, and the developer’s lawyers that the residents are seeking a stay of execution at the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya, but the developer pressed on with the demolition nonetheless.

"We have no choice but to sit-in at the alumni club’s hall. In less than three minutes, the police moved in to handcuff us and took us away. Half-an-hour later, our lawyers obtained the court order prohibiting further demolition.

dap and ngo rep arrested at kpg hakka demolition 311013"The developer can’t even give us 30 minutes to plea (to the judges), so I’d say this developer is heartless," he told the supporters outside the police station, to which the crowd cheered enthusiastically.

When met later, Loke explained that the stay allows the villages several months of respite while they challenge the Seremban High Court declaration that the residents are squatters.

However, he reiterated that the state government must intervene, or another round of demolitions can’t be ruled out.

dap and ngo rep arrested at kpg hakka demolition 311013 chong tza yewAccording to Chong, a total of 22 families are affected by the first phase of the development, of which 12 were promised compensation but were denied attempts to discuss its terms.

He added that of the alumni club house and the house next to it was not supposed to be demolished because it was not among the buildings slated for demolition.

There are over 180 households in Kampung Hakka, he added, of which he feared about 100 could be affected in future phases of the development.

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