GEORGE TOWN: A close-knit community of elderly folk who have been living together for decades in Jalan Dinding off Transfer Road have been told to vacate their rented squatter units by the end of the month.
The Penang Island City Council (MBPP) is taking back the land from a company which has been renting out the units illegally to the 30-odd residents who are mostly single.
The tenants have been living in shacks made of wood and zinc in the area known as “The House of 72 Tenants”, based on a popular Hong Kong film released in 1973 that depicted many families cramped under one roof.
A housewife, who wanted to be known as Hooi, 77, had hoped to live out her remaining years there with her 85-year-old husband Lee.
“We have been living in this shack for over half a century.
“We have an attachment to this place and we cannot bear to move.
“We are so used to the environment and everyone here knows one another, ” she said at her shack on Thursday.
Another resident, who wanted to be known as Lim, 83, is reluctant to leave the place he has called home for over a decade.
“This is my humble home and I have been staying here for years.
“Nowhere in Penang can you find rental at RM180, which includes water and electricity, ” he said.
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow’s special officer Lau Keng Ee, who is overseeing an initiative to help the elderly secure rooms in the People’s Housing Project (PPR) in George Town, said the residents had to move as the units on the land were built illegally and rented out to them.
“About a century ago, this piece of land was supposed to be used for workers’ quarters,
“This was an agreement between a local company and the council back then, ” he said.
However, he noted that when the company no longer needed the quarters, the owner’s son rented it out to the common folk.
“The shacks they are living in are considered illegal structures.
“This is because no building proposal or anything equivalent was submitted to the council, ” he added.
Lau also pointed out that the shacks were old.
“We also helped them apply for assistance from the state Welfare Department.
“We are working to help 20 of them secure 19 PPR room units.
“We have done the submission, ” he said, adding that rental for a PPR unit is fixed at below RM100.
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