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Wednesday May 9, 2012

Eurasian association faces eviction after 60 years at site

AFTER nearly 60 years of operating on a Temporary Occupation Land (TOL) in Jalan Pudu, Kuala Lumpur, a cultural centre is facing an eviction notice, leaving them in a lurch.

On April 5, Selangor and Federal Territory Eurasion Association (Saftea) received a letter from the land owner informing them that a eviction notice would be issued soon to facilitate redevelopment near the former Pudu Jail site.

Saftea president Sheila E. De Costa said they were now at a critical stage and did not know where to go if they were asked to leave.

In a dilemma: Saftea is facing an eviction and has no where to go.

“I wrote a letter appealing to spare us this land but they have not responded.

“In 1940, the Collector of Land Revenue Kuala Lumpur allotted Saftea a piece of land at the junction of Jalan Ipoh and Maxwell Road for holding activities. However, in 1947, we were informed that the said land had been occupied by the military forces.

“In 1953, after we were forced to move out from our previous premises in the old St. John’s Church (now known as St. John’s Cathedral) in Jalan Bukit Nanas, the government allowed us to use this premises at 167, Jalan Pudu, temporarily.

“We have been waiting for the government to grant us the land near Maxwell Road for years, however, it has now been turned into basketball court for a nearby school.

“Anyway, that promise was made many years ago before the area was developed. I do not think that it is advisable for us to shift there now since there is no place to park cars,” she said.

Nowhere to go: De Costa (left) and De Souza explaining their predicament while showing some of the old photographs of their various activities.

De Costa also said the owner had promised to allocate a site between 1,000sq ft and 3,000sq ft for their activities at the Bukit Bintang City Centre project which would be built at the site for rent at a discounted rate.

“We are not a business organisation. It is a centre for the Eurasians to meet and organise events. We also hold fund-raising activities for various causes.

“The culture needs to be preserved. As it is, the Eurasians are slowly losing touch with their roots and such associations play a key role in keeping the traditions alive.

“Moreover, Saftea also functions as the central meeting place for Eurasians nationwide,” she said, adding that they were hosting visitors of the Eurasian Association Singapore in June for sporting activities.

Saftea honorary general secretary Joseph De Souza said the development in the surrounding area had also been slowly curtailing their activities.

“In those days, our members used to meet often to play cricket, football, hockey and tennis at nearby fields. We use the Selangor Chinese Recreation Club field where the current Plaza Rakyat LRT station sits, the postal field in Jalan Imbi which is not maintained and the railway field in Brickfield which has been closed for years.

“Even the tennis court next to our premises is being used for a project nearby. Now, we have confined ourselves to indoor games like darts and carom. It is not our land and we do not have a say in it.

“I hope the relevant authorities look into our plea for a permanent place for us to meet, keep our resources and our culture alive,” he said.

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