Let’s talk terms, landowner told

An aerial view of Ladang Sungai Kechil in Nibong Tebal, Penang. — Photos: LO TERN CHERN and ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

PENANG Hindu Endowment Board (PHEB) is ready to re-negotiate a deal with the landowner of Ladang Sungai Kechil in Nibong Tebal, Penang, who has served eviction notices to 23 squatter families.

PHEB chairman Dr P. Ramasamy said the state wants to acquire

the 2.4ha land to build low-cost housing for the evicted families as well as many other low-income families in the area.

He said there are also three

temples on the land.

“The market price for the land

is about RM2mil. If the owner is seeking a higher price, we are

willing to meet and finalise on a win-win deal.

“The state will not tolerate any move to tear down houses of poor families and temples in the name of a legal directive,” he told reporters after a dialogue session with the villagers on Thursday.

Ramasamy said they held talks with the landowner after the

residents were first served with

the eviction notices in February.

He said during the negotiation, the landowner, who bought the estate land for about RM1mil a few years ago, had expressed intention to sell it to the state.

“Everything was then put on hold during the movement control order. And now, residents are

suddenly served with another

bailiff order from the court to evict by Thursday,” he said.

Ramasamy said since the owner had not obtained approval to

conduct any earth work under

the council’s Town and Country Planning Act 1976, any demolition work will not be allowed.

Established over a century ago, the village is home to about 100

villagers, most of them low-income earners, who live in the estate

surrounded by oil palm trees.

Present were Sungai Bakap assemblyman Dr Amar Pritpal Abdullah, Bagan Dalam assemblyman M. Satees and Seberang Prai City councillor David P. Marshel.
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