Thursday, November 01, 2007

A Conversation With A 'Squatter' Colony.

Since my visit first visit to Kampung Rimba Jaya, I have taken too long a time to write down the conversations I had with several of the residents there. The delay is not due to any reasons but that I really do not know how to; I do not want to paint the wrong picture.

My aim here is to highlight the predicament of many low-income Malaysians living within the boundaries of the Klang Valley, and why they chose to live in a 'squatter' colony.

InsyAllah, I will try to keep the transcript true to the conversations which was transacted in Malay. For reasons obvious, the names given here are not their true names and the introduction formalities are not included here.

*****

cakapaje: How long have you been living here?
Azid: I've been here for 6 years. But pakcik Alang here have been here for 19 years!
Hazim: That makes me one of the longest then as I have been here close to 30!

cakapaje: "Do you think the authorities will come today (to demolish the houses)?"
Hazim: "I don't know, but I do not think so. Had they wanted to, they would have arrived early in the morning. Besides, today being Friday, they too would need to go for Jumaat Prayers."
Azid: "Does not matter whether they come today or not, but we should all be packing. I would not want the villagers to be caught off guard and later blame you (Hazim) for thinking you've mislead them."
Hazim: "I have not! I have told them the truth and the fact that my house is being dismantled even now should be the cue for them to follow suit."

As Azid and Hazim got into a small quarrel, my eyes caught the sight of an old man walking very slowly some 200 meters away. He was walking neither towards nor away from us, but moving around some small bushes and his head slightly bent and looking at the ground as though he was searching for something. I pointed a finger towards the old man and forced a question to Azid, cutting their quarrel short.

Azid replied that the old man is known as Pak Suhaimi. He lives with his son, but forages the ground of Kampung Rimba Jaya looking for any discarded objects which he can sell off - bottles, tins, old boxes, in fact any recyclable items he can find. The meager ringgit he gets, he contributes to the household needs; his son works as a lorry attendant, has 5 children and his wife not working. With their relocation, the old man may no longer be able to contribute to the family.

At 80, he should not have to!

Another man walked towards us and introduced himself to me as Zain. He lives 2 lots away and work as a driver and has this to add to the conversation:
"The government said I could take a housing loan. I asked them back 'what loan?'. I'm already 55 and earning about RM500 a month, which bank will consider me?"

"So, where will you go to?" cakapaje quipped in.
"Oh! To (some kampung which I could not catch the name)", he quickly replied.
"What's the rental there?" asked Azid.
"RM600! A bloody RM600 when I earn RM500!" he replied with his voice slightly raised.
The shock look on my face must be apparent as he added "2 of my sons are already working and they chip in what they can. But they already have their own family, and we do not want to burden them" glancing back at his house where his wife and 16year old daughter are standing at the door.

I was trying to make sense of everything as this is the first time I face a situation like this. Though there were many childhood schoolmates who lived in squatter colonies, it, never became part of our conversation. What does one need to do? How can one even begin offering assistance when one does not even understand the problems these people face?

I turn my body towards Zain and boldly asked him a question, half expecting a stern reply or a balking "Why did you not move out earlier when the first order of eviction was given?"

Instead of Zain, it was Azid who answered "we did not want to because we were told by the village headman that this is pioneer land - tanah teroka. By that, it means we will be given the title to this land".

I nodded my head, but my nods must have been unconvincing.

"I was living in Gombak and was in the Used Car business. Then the recession came in 1997-98, and the business went down the drain. In 2000, I was able to sell off my house and with some cash there, I opened a Big Bike Service center on the main street here. Later, I bought a piece of land in this kampung and built a small house for RM30,000 - with the assurance from the village headman regarding the land title - which I could not have done anywhere" Azid said.

"Why didn't you buy a proper house?" asked Zain.

"My business was still new", said Azid. "Besides, like many of us here with a blacklisted credit rating, you just can't get a loan for anything, anywhere! Thus, this was the only choice I had".

Adli, who was sitting quietly all this while, suddenly chipped in. "To your earlier question" he said, "The Member of Parliament then told us that we will be given sufficient time to move to those new low-cost apartments (pointing towards the direction of some 3 blocks of high rise buildings). But those apartments are only about 90% completed and still without their Certificate of Fitness, how can we - those who qualified - move in?".

"Adli, you seem to have forgotten" Zain cuts in, "after a fracas with the authorities 2 years back, our case was brought into the courts. Then, the judge asked the local authorities 'why are they intervening in a dispute between the developer (a private party) and the residents? This is a private dispute between these 2 parties. And should not the authorities (including the Member of Parliament) be intervening on behalf of the people instead of against them?'".

"We won the case then," Zaid added "but lost it in an appeal. We counter-appealed. But lost it last week and are given a week's notice to move out or face eviction. How can we find accommodations within 7 days? Could they not have given us a little bit more time, especially some of the children here will be facing their SRP and year-end school examinations? And the Indian resident too, they will be or should be celebrating their Deepavali; have the authorities no heart at all?".

It was then approximately 12 noon then. Since there were no signs of the enforcement officers, I took beg of leave. Still, I could not help myself asking a final question, "These zincs and planks you've dismantled, what are you going to do with them?"

"Some of us will try to use it anyway we can for our new homes" Zain replied.
"You mark my words! Most, will be sold off for scrap. But its better that than having them demolished!" added Azid.

With that I got into my car and drove off and called Dr. L, and later the local Lajnah Kebajikan. After that, I made a mental note of the problems the residents of Kampung Rimba Jaya, and in probability most of the squatter colonies:

* Low household income force them to find alternative housing.
* Some do not qualify for a loan due to bad credit rating.
* The promised housing by the local authorities are not yet completed.
* The land promise was reneged by the local authorities.


Kindly refer to links below for more articles on Kampung Rimba Jaya:

Tumpang sekoleh...?
E Contrario
achmedrauf
Detikdaily
DPP Bukit Katil
Malaysiakini.tv - Fracas at the Temple
Rasuah Semakin Parah - 4 video reports
The Star Online: Video

12 comments:

Fatin said...

Assalamualaikum,

Today, Samy Vellu said - don't demolish the Hindu temples - one in Kampung Rimba Jaya got demolished. Does he know what is happening here? ;)

Wassalam.

cakapaje said...

Wa'alaikumusalam,

If you mean here as in the Malay area of the Kampung, no, I don't he knows, and nor does he care.

The pity thing is, while many do not like Samy, he did his puny bit by trying to stop the demolition there, unlike the other muslim ministers who never even raise their voice about the surau there being demolished! Kind of sad, don't you think?

It was the same thing in Kampung Berembang, minus Samy, off course.

Zawi said...

Salam,
It is difficult to comprehend how the very people we trust by giving them the power to rule abuse the trust due to greed. Don't they have any limit on how rich they want to be? Can't they find any satisfaction by helping others to have a better life? Instead of making others better, they prefer to make their lives worse.
A time will come when the masses will reach the end of their tolerance and rise to obliterate such people from the face of this earth.

cakapaje said...

Wa'alaikumusalam Pak Zawi,

You are right, insyAllah, this 10 November, will be the beginning of it. Come and join us.

Kata Tak Nak said...

Strange this to happen when the election is looming. Is there something amiss? Usually they would have waited to until the election is over before bringing in the bulldozers and their armed dogs to level the place.

Did ToyoL consult old sleepy head before doing this coz the implication of this deed is potentially dangerous.

Is this act meant to show old sleepy head that he could be held at ransom?

Or, is it to show that they don't fucking care. They could do anything they want coz they are sure they would win with the blind support of the Malays and the help of the SPR.

Isn't it time this ends?

tokasid said...

Salam shah cakapaje:

Like Kg Berembang, Rimba Jaya is the victim of Zero Setinggan policy of the Selangor govt, as proudly announced by Khir Toyo few years back. And true to their target, they are achieving that very soon.

But, how this target was handled is a big question mark to all. Apparently the state govt with its local authority prefers the goon/s way of doing things.And the local UMNO heads made it possible by encouraging bullism and misleading the poor folks( well as the ketua cawangan and JKKK, these guys have the best deal of all right?).

Some residents, became too tired with the on-goings decided to move out . They know they are fighting a losing battle and they just couldn't be bothered about the injustice thrown into their faces.
They decide to take -up the offer of temporary homes and later the so-call provided flats9don't ask about its quality).

But to some, they face the injustice head-on. These are the brave one( well some will say they are the stupid ones for going against the state govt).They are no cowards. They have balls.To them, they have been victimised. Most of them a the 2nd or 3rd generations living on these lands. And like in Kg Berembang, they had been requesting for these land since 1968!!In what do you know? The land in Kg Berembang were given to other prominent ppl with strong political connections. Same thing goes here in Rimba Jaya,I'm sure.

And it is no suprised that the state govt is supporting the developers against the rakyat. Just imagine the wakil RAKYAT is against his rakyat,his voters!

Now we know who our wakil rakyats are representing.

So hear me!You still wanna continue electing these traitors!! Ofcourse I hear a big NO now.

But, come election time the big NO will just....pooofff!!

To those who have time and courage and no prior important engagement...be there on 10th Nov with BERSIH.


To those who think its no a good idea with the mass( well you know there's gonna be lots or FRU with water cannons, gas cannisters and guns with REAL BULLETS, you might not wanna take the risk of being shot and accused of burning...errr...the Jalur Gemilang,right), I tell you now loud and clear: Let us be brave enough to change for a new govt. Lets get ourselves a new administrator. Don't worry about those who will say if we elect a new govt, the investors will run away etc. You wouldn't know that ,right?

Lawan tetap lawan.Bongkar tetap bongkar.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

Shah brader,

Mcm biasa, lari topic. Apparently the perhimpunan 100 ribu rakyat will not be getting any form of permit from the cops. And from what I read in today’s paper, sape2 yg berkumpul akan kena cekup, reason being that is to store order and peace. Since I’m no political person, that sure freaks me out man. you still going ar?

cakapaje said...

Salam Cikgu,

Er...your last para hits it on the head - they just don't care! This election will be the dirtiest election in history! As it is, more than 10,000 foreigners have been given blue identity card to help SPR register them as voters.

And yes, its about time this end. InsyAllah, it will begin with this November 10.

cakapaje said...

Wa'alaikumusalam Doc,

InsyAllah, hope to see you there on November 10!

EVERYONE WEAR YELLOW!

ps...hmm, come to think of it, Elton John's song Yellow Brick Road seem appropriate for this occasion :)

cakapaje said...

Salam kerp bro,

Do not be afraid of the police threat. THE ENTIRE public service and machinery are made pawns by and for the ruling party. That itself, is already an abuse of power.

InsyAllah, I will be there along with many others. But you don't have to though it would be great if you do. What ever the case, consult your parents first.

As for the nabbing part, if we fail here, then we may never succeed in dislodging these parasites off their perch. And if we fail, I will probably be the one of the first to be detained...na'uzubillah.

InsyAllah the night just before the 10, I will write my...er, shall we say, epitaph? :) Nothing great or glorious, just about a simple man with burning desire to see Malaysia as a truly independent country, in the name of Allah s.w.t.

david santos said...

Cakapaje, Dian, Please!

Send an email to the Brazil embassj your country and repor the injustice that the brazilian courts are making with this girl

Thank you

The resignation is to stop the evolution. (David Santos in times without end)

David Santos

Mat Salo said...

Shah. Bro' I just love this kind of 'street interviews' and publishing the plight of the small man. Very commendable effort bro! BTW, where exactly is Kg. RJ?

On a separate thing, the perhimpunan rakyat 100K to me looks dangerous. There must be other forms of protest to show "displeasure". Because in light of what happened in the past I don't trust our authorities to behave appropriately and they just might use excessive force. Remember their suppossed to be impartial but in reality are at the mercy of their political masters. Which of course, you and I know is wrong. Please take extra care.