After 19-year wait, estate workers finally get free housing

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 21 Feb 2019

SEMENYIH: After nearly two decades, 24 families from the Ladang Bangi estate here, assisted by PSM, will get to live in their new homes.

The families were handed the keys to the houses last Thursday, just two days before nomination day for the Semenyih by-election.

The families’ ordeal began in 2000, when the plantation management announced that it would be switching from rubber to oil palm.

Despite its proposal being rejected by the workers, the families, most of whom are rubber tappers, received notices to vacate their quarters.

They can now welcome the good news that they will be relocated by developer Trans Loyal Development Sdn Bhd to their new homes in Putra apartments in Taman Impian Putra Bangi, Kajang, next month.

One of the homeowners, C. Kri­shan, 64, who leads the action committee for the Ladang Bangi estate workers, said he was touched by the news that he and his colleagues would get to live in the new houses.

“We have received the keys and will move in by March when the water supply is connected.

“The houses come equipped with a refrigerator, TV, cabinet and air-conditioners,” he said during a press conference at the Putra apartments yesterday.

PSM central committee member S. Arutchelvan also attended the event.

He described the occasion as a victory for the people.

“Their houses are special – they have free cabinets, TVs and fridges. I’m staying in a low-cost unit and even I don’t have such facilities,” he said.

Arutchelvan said cases of estate workers who could not have their own houses would continue to happen if the state government did not address the issue by enacting laws to protect them.

He noted that in 1973, then prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein had initiated the Estate Workers Scheme to ensure that workers were protected once they were evicted when development started in an estate.

“However, this is merely a policy instead of a law, and it had caused many developers to skip their responsibility to provide homes for estate workers,” he said.

Arutchelvan said PSM had asked the state government to introduce laws to ensure that developers build houses for estate workers.

“Most importantly, we must have laws to protect the marginalised communities. Those who fought on, like the Ladang Bangi estate workers, managed to get free housing. So, that is a big victory,” he said.

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