GEORGE TOWN: Villagers in Kampung Mutiara are up in arms over another planned demolition exercise.
Batu Ferringhi JKKP chairman Ismadi Abu Bakar said they intended to form a human barricade against bulldozers to prevent their homes from being demolished.
"We hope to gather around 1,000 villagers but we are not too sure because today is a working day," he said.
Light Strike Force and plainclothes policemen were spotted patrolling the area as villagers began gathering at the road leading to the entrance of Kampung Mutiara as early as 7am Tuesday.
Ismadi said about 69 families from 42 families would be affected if the demolition took place.
"We were tipped off by the police last night at around 8.30pm and (Bukit Bendera MP) Zairil (Khir Johari) and Cheu (Tanjung Bungah assemblyman Teh Yee Cheu) came around 10pm.
“The police also told us to calm down and advised us not to interrupt.
"We (villagers) had a meeting until 2am to strategise how we are going to handle the situation today," he added.
In a related development, Zairil said he was made to understand that "talks were still ongoing between the landowner and the relevant parties”.
He said the Implementation Coordination Unit (ICU) had offered to purchase the land from the landowner but to no avail.
"We are standing by the villagers. The state government has stressed that there will be no development allowed if the villagers are not given compensation," he said.
It was reported on Aug 29 that the JKP (Bumiputra Steering Committee) is looking into purchasing plots of land which Kampung Mutiara sits on.
Bukit Bendera Umno division chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail said a letter had been sent to landowner Peter Loke's lawyer stating the intention to purchase the land.
"They are planning to buy Lots 39 and 40 first. Lot 39 and lot 40 have no access road so that also means lot 37 and lot 38 need to be bought for development purposes," he reportedly said.
Loke, who bought the 1.4ha plot in a court auction in 1991, was supposed to act on a vacant possession court order and demolish the houses on Aug 24, when 500-odd villagers and supporters formed a human barricade to prevent it.
The 65-year-old former engineer had said in an interview that he was unhappy that his plight had been ignored, adding that he was denied his legal right to occupy his own land and the matters had been dragged into litigation for over eight years.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng was reported as saying that the state would not approve any development plans in Kampung Mutiara.
Lim had said the state government did not support the landowner's handling of the issue.
Kampung Mutiara is one of the last Malay villages in Batu Ferringhi, situated behind the Yahong Art Gallery and the police station.
The villagers formerly lived by the sea where the Penang Parkroyal is now located.