THE planned demolition of the Segambut Estate houses in Kuala Lumpur yesterday turned violent when residents reacted after heavy machinery rolled into sight.
About 80 residents and a third party agent got into a scuffle as the excavator made its way to the settlement at about 9am.
But the fight was quickly broken up by officers from the Jinjang police station.
The residents had pleaded with the landowners to meet with them before forcing them out of their homes.
The 26 families claimed that they had been living in the former estate quarters for at least three generations.
In September last year, the residents were given eviction notices as the site was private land.
The families, through a lawyer, filed an application to appeal the evacuation order in December but it was later withdrawn.
They also claimed that an out-of-court settlement was made between the landowner and lawyer.
The residents’ action committee representative Dr P. Nantakkumar said they appealed to all parties involved to discuss over the matter.
“We have made numerous attempts to contact the lawyer and developer, but nothing materialised.
“We only found out about today’s demolition plans from a report in a local daily, which is why we were able to stop them,” he said.
Nantakkumar said there were several attempts by unscrupulous parties to force the families to leave by force.
“In the last month, seven houses were razed using petrol bombs and there had been four previous atttempts,” he said.
L. Kalaiselvan, 32, said the families, comprising about 100 people, were prepared to vacate the area only if replacement homes were provided.
He said the settlement had existed for more than 100 years and most were third or fourth generation settlers.
“We have been here all our lives and it will be very difficult for us to move to another place now, especially since we do not have any other house,” he said, hoping the developer would consider building houses for them at the same site.
The families also claimed the lawyer representing them had been in cahoots with the developers as they did not receive any of the compensation money.
During the protest, Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng, Gerakan Public Service and Complaints Bureau chief Wilson Lau and National Public Complaints and Welfare Service Centre chairman Datuk A. Chandrakumanan also made an appearance.
Lau, who is also a Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) advisory board member, said DBKL was willing to arrange for transit homes for the residents.
“This issue was brought up during the last full board meeting and the mayor had agreed to provide temporary homes while the residents look for alternate housing,” he said.
Chandrakumanan attempted to contact the developer’s lawyers, but was told to write in to them.