Minister’s assurance brings little comfort to Little India traders facing eviction

Annuar (second from right) talking to one of the traders operating next to a restaurant in Brickfields.

THE fate of seven traders who operate next to Sri Kortumalai Pillayar Restaurant in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur remains uncertain despite assurances by the Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa that they can continue to operate throughout the recovery movement control order (MCO) period.

The traders, who had earlier been told to vacate the premises to make way for a landscaping project, said they were unsatisfied by the minister’s response as he did not address the core problem, namely, having some security for the future of their business.

The Kuala Lumpur Land and Mines Office (PTG) and Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) in a meeting on July 14 ordered the traders, who operate from a food court and observation deck next to the restaurant in Jalan Tun Sambanthan, to vacate by the end of the year.

However, no eviction notices were issued.

Veal Alagi Krishnasamy, 55, said Annuar, during a meeting on Monday, told them that they could continue operating for the moment, but reaffirmed PTG’s stand.

“We thank the Minister for having a personal interest in the matter but I believe that after six months, they will still kick us out.

“What we want is an assurance that we can continue to operate here in the future,” she said.

Annuar had, following his visit to the area, tweeted that he had visited the traders and listened to their problems.

“I met them quietly and I hope they will not be disturbed throughout this MCO period,” he said on his Twitter account.

The problem for the traders began in September 2017 when their stalls were removed by DBKL to make way for a garden project.

Following complaints to the relevant authorities, the stalls were restored a year later. But in October 2018, they were again told by PTG to vacate within two months after the renewal of temporary operating licences (TOL) done by DBKL was rejected.

The traders, who had been operating for 40 years, appealed and tried to renew the TOL in February 2019 but the matter was left unresolved.

The stalls continued to operate until the MCO kicked in on March 18, and only resumed business under the conditional MCO in May.

Trader Suriagandi Torasamy, 65, said they were angry that PTG had asked them to vacate merely for a landscaping project.

“We had exhausted all our savings during the MCO and I have four children to feed.

“Now when it is time for us to do business, they want us to leave,” he said, adding that PTG should be more humane in handling the matter.

Drinks seller Wi Ah Boy, 72, said the move was unfair.

“The TOL expired in April 2019 and we were not told about the progress of our licence renewal.

“And suddenly, we are being asked to move. This is disheartening,” she said.

When contacted, a DBKL spokesman confirmed that PTG wanted the site back for a landscaping project as the land’s jurisdiction were under them.

“It is their land and we have no say on this,” he said.

At press time, PTG has yet to respond to enquiries on the matter.

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Brickfields , Little india , DBKL , PTG


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