Kuala Lumpur, Mar 11 – Residents of the former Bukit Jalil rubber estate located at 6 ½ mile of the Bukit Jalil highway, turned up in force earlier this morning in the hopes of meeting the Kuala Lumpur City Mayor Datuk Ahmad Fuad Ismail.
Two buses ferrying over 50 residents arrived at the Kuala Lumpur City Council (DBKL) well before the 11am timeline set the day before.
The morning rain did not dampen the spirit of the residents as they started marching with banners from the bus stop in front of DBKL (approximately 20m away) to the main entrance of DBKL building.
At 11:35am, Special Assistant to the Mayor, Mohd Aznan Mat Zain, met the legal representatives of the residents, Fadiah Fikri, who was also a lawyer representing Lawyers for Liberty.
Also present was Member of Parliament (MP) for Subang, R. Sivarasa, who is also one of the co-founders of Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), N. Surendran, a well-known human rights lawyer and a vice president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), and S. Arutchelvan, Secretary-General from Parti Sosialis Malaysia, who is also an activist for estate workers.
Mohd Aznan said that he was authorized to receive any memorandums or letters on behalf of Ahmad Fuad as the latter was unavailable due to prior commitments.
After a short deliberation, Mohd Aznan agreed to convey the message to Ahmad Fuad that the residents would still like to meet with him and was willing to wait for him.
Around 11:38am, the residents started chanting slogans such as “Don’t demolish our houses”, “Don’t evict us”, “Don’t violate our rights”, “DBKL is a liar” and “KL Mayor come down (to meet us)” in front of the main entrance.
They continued chanting for over 10 minutes, in which Fadiah (pic left) expressed her disbelief that Ahmad Fuad, who is a public servant, could ignore the cries of the residents and refuse to come down to meet the people.
At approximately 11:50am, Ahmad Fuad’s oficial car (Proton Perdana) that was parked outside the lobby entrance, was spotted being driven away, creating further uncertainty in the residents that he would not be meeting with the residents.
At 12:10pm, a DBKL officer by the name of Nazri, announced that Ahmad Fuad was still pre-occupied with a prize giving ceremony on the third floor, and was still not available to meet the residents.
“It is a huge event and there are many VIPs attending so he (Ahmad Fuad) cannot come down at the moment,” Nazri said.
It was learnt that Ahmad Fuad was involved in a prize giving ceremony – KL Mayor Tourism Awards 2011 for nine different categories related to dining, leisure and sight-seeing in the city.
At 12:30pm, guests from the tourism awards ceremony was seen leaving the building, and the residents had a renewed hope that they would finally be able to meet with Ahmad Fuad.
At 12:35pm, Nazri conveyed a message to the legal representatives Fadiah and Surendran that Ahmad Fuad had promised to come down to the lobby to meet with the residents on the condition that all media would be barred from covering the session that was to be held in the lobby.
Unconfirmed reports surfaced that Ahmad Fuad was entertaining guests to a lunch that was served after the awards ceremony.
The residents who were sitting outside in the shivering cold of the rain, could wait not longer and proceeded to enter the lobby at 12:50pm.
About seven DBKL officers and four plain clothes officers began to bar the residents from entering the lobby.
A five minute stand-off ensued and amidst the chaos, the DBKL officers and the plain clothes officers began pushing the crowd backwards.
Arutchelvan, who was standing at the front lines, shouted for the authorities to stop pushing as there were many old people there.
In the meantime, six residents managed to slip past security and had sat themselves down on the ground of the lobby, defying requests by the DBKL officers to exit the building.
Calamity ensued for a good 15 minutes before Nazri once again appeared around 1:05pm and reassured those who were present that Ahmad Fuad would be coming down to meet with the residents.
At 1:10pm, the 10 police officers that were stationed outside the building was brought in the help bar the residents from entering the building.
Meanwhile, Surendran and Arutchelvan were trying to calm the tense situation, and had continued to negotiate with a police officer named Lee for over 10 minutes, asking the police to protect the residents, instead of the city council.
Mohd Aznan (pic left) reappeared again at 1:16pm and announced that Ahmad Fuad has “let go” of the matter, saying that it is out of his hands, and that the eviction matter was no longer under the jurisdiction of DBKL.
Attempts to get clarification on DBKL’s stand on next Tuesday’s eviction failed as Mohd Aznan refused to answer any questions and walked away immediately.
Fadiah slammed Ahmad Fuad for cheating the residents and denying them their basic rights to be heard.
Surendran (pic right) also chided the mayor for making the residents of whom, a majority were elderly, to wait for so long outside in the cold rain, only to send his assistant (Mohd Aznan) to say that the jurisdiction lies with the Federal Territories Urban and Well-Being Ministry instead.
“How can he say that he is going for Friday prayers when he had promised to meet the residents?” Surendran asked.
Arutchelvan expressed his dissatisfaction against Ahmad Fuad, saying that the latter was very irresponsible to leave the residents and the eviction issue hanging like that.
“The ministry did not issue the notice. DBKL was the one who issued the notice so they should answer to the residents. It is very irresponsible of Ahmad Fuad to leave like that,” he said.
The dejected representatives of the residents gathered outside to discuss the next course of action with Fadiah while the others sat on the walkways to rest.
At 1:45pm, Arutchelvan briefed the press that the residents had decided to send a second legal letter to DBKL in light of the recent announcement by Mohd Aznan on behalf of Ahmad Fuad that the eviction was under the jurisdiction of the ministry.
The second legal notice cited Mohd Aznan’s statement that the eviction came under the purview of the ministry and therefore, DBKL’s enforcement team should abort the eviction exercise that was planned for Mar 15 (Tuesday).
The legal notice also reiterated that the eviction notice was a direct violation of the Consitutional rights of the residents and was unlawful.
At 2:30pm, Fadiah led several representatives from the residents into the lobby of DBKL, and proceeded to head towards the public complaints counter.
At that time, Nazri demanded that the residents wait at the information counter to wait for the Mayor if they wanted to submit any documents.
Fadiah reminded Nazri that they were at a public place and the correct process would be to submit their letter through the public complaints counter and that he has no right to restrict the movements of anyone.
Mohd Aznan came down to meet with Fadiah and the residents at 2:35pm, and offered his apologies for his rudeness earlier whereby he left abruptly without answering any questions.
S. Thiakarajan, a resident, reminded Mohd Aznan that he was supposed to serve the public and that his rudeness was inexcusable.
“You are a professional, a public officer that interacts with the public. Although everyone makes mistakes, there is no excuse for being rude,” he said.
Mohd Aznan then acknowledged receipt of the second legal notice addressed to Ahmad Fuad, demanding for a halt to the illegal eviction exercise that was slated to take place on Mar 15.
In the meantime, residents continued to wait outside in the hopes that Ahmad fuad would meet them after he had finished performing his Friday prayers.
At 3:50pm, the residents were still seen waiting for Ahmad Fuad to show up.
By 4:45pm, the residents had no choice but to leave as continued attempts to get in touch with Ahmad Fuad had failed.
It came to the attention of Klik4Malaysia (K4M) that two of the residents were allegedly assaulted by DBKL officers during the scuffle earlier.
A young 14 year-old boy identifed as Prashan Nair (pic left) was punched in the chest by a DBKL officer identified as Mohd Salleh.
A number of witnesses who watched in horror as the incident took place, later corroborated the victim’s story.
Another 41 year-old woman, Vijaya Letchumi (pic left) was also punched in her right shoulder by another DBKL officer.
However, Vijaya said she could not identify her assailant.
1. DBKL to evict former Bkt Jalil estate workers, residents cries for justice
2. Former Bkt Jalil estate workers submit letter to PM regarding unlawful eviction
3. Proof of employment strengthens former estate workers’ claim of DBKL’s illegal eviction
4. Bkt Jalil residents go to Parliament, DBKL remains mum on eviction row