KUALA LUMPUR: The state of shoebox rooms being rented out at a shoplot in Taman Maluri, Cheras, was shocking, even for the seasoned enforcement officers.The four-storey building, with its ground floor serving as a shop, had three upper levels partitioned into 78 shoebox rooms.
The first floor alone contained 38 of these shoebox rooms, with 23 rooms on the second floor and 17 on the third floor.
On the first floor, the rooms were partitioned into lower and upper levels, with ladders fitted to allow tenants to climb to their rooms above.
These rooms were so narrow that one could only crawl in instead of walking in.
They lacked windows, with a mere small hole in the wall in each room for ventilation.
Each room was sparsely furnished, consisting only of a mattress, a pillow, a lightbulb and a power point.
There was also a padlock on the door of each room.
Furthermore, the tenants on each floor had to share a single toilet and bathroom, which were both poorly maintained.
There was also a strong and unpleasant odour throughout the premises.
While each tenant paid about RM300 monthly for a shoebox room, there were bigger rooms on the second and third floors with better furnishing, likely fetching higher rents.
“These are not rooms, but more like cages or coffins,” said Local Government Development Minister Nga Kor Ming, who led the raid at the shoplot yesterday.
Nga, who led a team of officers from his ministry together with officials from the Fire and Rescue Department and Kuala Lumpur City Hall, described the living conditions of the premises as “worse than a refugee camp”.
He believed there were 40 to 50 tenants occupying the 38 rooms on the first floor.
“This is totally inhumane and against the law,” Nga said, as reported by Sin Chew Daily.
“The whole place smells, is badly ventilated and has poor hygiene.
“This poses dangers of diseases and fire hazard. This cannot be allowed,” he said.
Nga called on the premises owner or operator to surrender to the police.
“The ministry has gathered sufficient evidence. We hope the culprits will turn themselves in or they will be charged in court,” he said.
On Oct 15, Nga said the ministry would take stern action against premises owners who rent out such rooms.
“We have given them the final ultimatum, but they have shown no regard. That is why we are taking action now,” he said.