RESIDENTS of Kampung Bagan Ajam in Pantai Bersih have accused the state government of turning a ‘blind eye’ over their compensation dispute with a developer who had bought over the land in 2011.
Although the dispute has been ongoing for two years, they claim that Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and Sungai Puyu assemblyman Phee Boon Poh have never visited them.
Yesterday, about 40 of them staged a peaceful protest and carried placards asking the state government to help them negotiate for a reasonable compensation.
The residents had earlier held a similar protest in front of the Penang State Legislative building last Friday morning during the assembly sitting.
Forty-two houses are affected by the development in the area. The residents are asking for a minimum RM30,000 compensation while the developer is only willing to offer a maximum of RM20,000 for each family.
Barber Choo Kwei Shiong, 44, said the developer offered him RM17,000 which was totally unfair as he has four children and has been staying there for 40 years.
“Phee promised us that he would negotiate with the developer for at least RM35,000 for each family when we met him at Komtar last year,” he alleged.
Motorcycle workshop operator K. Ramenthan, 35, claimed that Lim visited the neighbouring areas a few times in the last two years but never Kampung Bagan Ajam.
“The developer is offering me RM12,500 which I consider is too little,” he said.
Tah Wah Assets Sdn Bhd managing director Datuk Hong Yeam Wah said some of the residents were excessive in asking for a RM130,000 compensation.
“Actually, I can demolish their houses anytime as I have obtained a court order, but based on humanitarian ground, I stopped the work at least four times and negotiated with them.
“The matter has dragged on for three years and I still need to pay about RM70,000 per month to the bank as interest,” he said.
Penang MCA secretary Dr Tan Chuan Hong said Lim and Phee had failed the people.
“If Lim could work out a one-to-one compensation in Kampung Buah Pala where the residents received a new house upon eviction, why can’t he work out a low-cost house for the Kampung Bagan Ajam residents?” he asked.
Dr Tan alleged that while the residents affected in other housing areas on the island had received low medium-cost units, Lim could not even negotiate for a fair amount of compensation for the residents in Kampung Bagan Ajam.
When contacted, Phee said after the repeal of the Rent Control Act, the state had little room to move on compensation cases.
“Nevertheless, we will try to work out a fair compensation although it’s difficult to satisfy all parties,” he said.
Lim could not be reached for comment as he is attending the parliament sitting in Kuala Lumpur.