Saturday September 22, 2012
Tebing Tinggi villagers voice concern over their impending eviction from their home
By FOONG PEK YEE
THE houseowners had left for a meeting to discuss with landowners on their impending eviction from the Tebing Tinggi Village with lots of questions.
Some of them turned emotional shortly after the meeting started at a cramped hall in a village house last Saturday.
The lawyer engaged by the landowners did not get a chance to brief the houseowners on the matter.
Well, there is certainly more to what appears to be a straightforward offer by the landowners; whereby each houseowner will be compensated RM15,000 when they vacate their units within three months upon signing an agreement.
While houseowners voiced mixed reactions to the offer — for, against or undecided — what, actually irks some of them is, perhaps, the way the landowners and/or their representatives handled the matter.
First and foremost, the houseowners have not been notified in writing of the impending eviction. They are legitimate tenants to begin with.
They owned the houses and have been paying rental and assessment to the landowners monthly.
A pertinent question is why there is no meeting to gather the views of the 47 houseowners before the landowners came up with the offer.
The houseowners may not be highly educated, but they have the right to be consulted on the matter.
It is learnt that the houseowners, many of whom are elderly and Cantonese-speaking, have to rely on hearsay and it seems that this had been going on for months.
Negative feelings - anger, fear and suspicion- are building up on the part of the houseowners.
This has been compounded further by a group of people intimidating the houseowners into taking up the offer.
They said houseowners would not get any compensation if fire had razed down the village.
For stubborn houseowners, this group said they would be hauled to court and they would end up having to pay thousands of ringgit in legal fees and not getting a sen in compensation.
It will be interesting to know how this group came into the picture, and whether the landowners know their modus operandi.
But what is for sure is the eviction plan has taken off on a wrong footing.
Meanwhile, the agreement should be clearly written- no vague clauses- that may create misunderstanding between both parties.
The signing of the agreement should be done in the presence of a lawyer, after it is duly explained to the houseowners; and nobody should be allowed to coax houseowners into signing.
During the meeting last Saturday, a houseowner claimed that he had been approached by somebody to sign a letter.
In an immediate response, Desmond, who is spokesman for the landowners, advised houseowners to lodge police reports if they were approached by people to sign a letter pertaining to this case.
While houseowners have mixed reactions over the quantum of compensation; those who are willing to take up the offer by the landowners should be allowed to do so.
Likewise, those who wanted a higher compensation, be it RM25,000 or more is up to them.
The village came into existence shortly after the Second World War.
Development has crept into the village some 20 years ago and more development is expected in the near future given its strategic location, about 2km to the city centre and 4km to the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport.