KUALA LUMPUR: "Inhumane and unreasonable". This was the description of Local Government Development Minister Nga Kor Ming on the "grave-hole" rooms rented out at a shop lot in Taman Maluri, Cheras recently.
"Last month, I personally headed an enforcement operation to resolve the 'bird cage' rooms, which I like to call 'grave-hole' rooms.
"They are inhuman and unreasonable.
"The rooms are the actual size of grave holes with (just) room enough for a coffin.
"You have to crawl to get in and out of the room," he told Dewan Rakyat when replying to a question raised by Fong Kui Lun (PH-Bukit Bintang) in Parliament on Thursday. (Nov 30).
Ng said the area has since been cleaned, with 78 grave-hole "rooms" demolished.
"I will issue a media statement on the matter next week," he added.
On Oct 15, Nga said the ministry would take stern action against premises owners renting out such rooms.
Operations were also held at a multi-level shop lot in Cheras, which was partitioned to make 78 "rooms".
It was said that tenants 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.
It was believed that 40 to 50 tenants were occupying the 38 rooms on the first floor of the building.
Earlier, Nga told the House that there are sufficient laws to deal with such illegal renovations done by building owners.
"However, the issue is one of enforcement," he said.
Nga noted that those flouting fire regulations could face a RM50,000 fine or a maximum of three years in jail if the illegal renovations pose a fire risk.
He assured that the ministry will continue to conduct enforcement operations to ensure that buildings and homes remain safe for occupation.