SEREMBAN: K. Kamalam was a new bride when she moved into her husband's home in Kg Sagga in Rantau in 1956.
The 80-year-old, who was from Melaka, said although her husband worked in a rubber estate nearby, he decided to build his house on government land, which was eventually called Kg Sagga as he wanted to rear livestock.
"The area was covered in thick jungle, and my husband used to clear the area whenever he was free.
"We eventually moved out of the estate and started living here, although there were no basic amenities," she said in an interview.
Kamalam, who has six children, three of whom have since passed on, said they used to worry about being asked to vacate the plot, as it was located on government property.
"My husband and 80 other families who had moved into the area applied for ownership titles for years, but we were unsuccessful," she said.
Kamalam said their prayers were finally answered four years ago when they took their plight to Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan, who was the then Mentri Besar.
"We were then given temporary ownership or leasehold on our land," she said, adding that each family was required to pay an average of RM6,000 in premiums.
Kamalam said Mohamad not only helped the families there obtain temporary titles, but also provided them with financial assistance to repair their homes.
"Many older folks like me who are unable to work and fend for themselves are given monthly welfare aid as well," she said.
G. Perumal, 70, said he was born in Kg Sagga and still remembered how his late father tended to their vegetable plot there when he was a child.
"My dad cleared the land to grow vegetables to supplement our income.
"Although we lived here for decades, we always feared that the day will come when we would have to leave," he said.
R. Navaratnam, 64, who used to work as a tractor driver in a rubber estate, was also full of praise for Mohamad.
"My father cleared this land more than 50 years ago and then built a cowshed here, so that we could sell cow's milk to earn extra income.
"Today, we are the proud owners of this plot, and we have Mohamad to thank," he said, adding that many Indian families in other areas such as Kg Pasir Rantau, Kg Linsum and Kg Pasir Air Kuning also received their titles as well.
C. Kaliamah, 68, said apart from giving her a temporary land title, Mohamad also helped to repair her house.
"Since I only get RM140 monthly aid from the Welfare Department, I did not have enough money to carry out the repairs.
"I went to visit Mohamad at his service centre one day. He immediately approved my request and sent workers to change the zinc sheets of my house a few days later," she said.