Don’t repeat mistake, DBKL told

PETALING JAYA: Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) secretary-general S Arutchelvan called upon the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) not to demolish the houses in Ladang Bukit Jalil till the case is settled in court.This would ensure that the former estate residents do not suffer the same fate as the 2,000 villagers of Kampung Berembang.

Kampung Berembang, located near Jalan Ampang, was demolished four times by the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) between 2006 and 2007 after the court refused to grant a stay order against the city council’s pending trial.

In 2007, the Shah Alam High Court ruled in favour of the villagers but the ruling became academic as their homes were already demolished.

Some of the villagers were still staying there in make-shift tents, waiting for the Selangor state government to rebuild their houses.

Arutchelvan, in support of the Bukit Jalil estate residents, said DBKL was morally obliged to wait for the court to decide on the legitimacy of their claims though the Kuala Lumpur High Court had refused to grant an injuction against the City Hall.

“There are many issues that need to be sorted out. For example, whether is it lawful to evict the residents under the Emergency Ordinance (EO) or not,” said the PSM leader.

On Friday, Judge Zabariah Mohd Yusof dismissed the residents’ application for an interim injuction against DBKL, saying the latter had the authority to evict them under EO. She had set Oct 17 to hear the case.

Claiming that courts were normally reluctant to slap injunctions against the government, Arutchelvan said the matter had also been brought to the attention of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

Green light to evict the residents

He added that the Prime Minister’s Department had replied to them, saying a decision would be made after getting feedback from several agencies.

“If DBKL evicts them and later the court rules in favour of them, surely you can compensate their losses but how are you going to compensate their way of life?” he asked.

Lawyers for Liberty coordinator Fadiah Nadwa Fikri believed that DBKL was now under the impression that it have been given the green light to evict the residents.

“We have sent numerous letters and memoranda to DBKL but we have not received any reply,” said Fadiah, who suspected that DBKL might come anytime to evict the residents.

Meanwhile, Bukit Jalil estate action committee secretary S Thiakarajan called upon Zabariah (high court judge) to visit the estate residents before making a decision.

He said the visit would help the judge ascertain whether they were former estate workers living in the land or otherwise.

“We don’t want what happened in Kampung Berembang to happen here. If we are squatters as claimed by DBKL, how come there is a Tamil school here? Surely, no one builds schools in a squatter area,” said Thiakarajan.

On their next course of action, Thiakarajan said the committee would be meeting Suhakam on Monday to discuss their plight.

“Hopefully, we can get the human rights body to send a memorandum to Najib and DBKL mayor Ahmad Fuad Ismail,” he said.

Injunction against demolition

The residents had filed an appeal with the Court of Appeal on Wednesday to get an interim injuction against DBKL. The hearing date for the appeal was yet to be fixed.

In another development, Court of Appeal judge Apandi Ali today granted an ex-parte interim injunction to stop DBKL from demolishing the houses in Ladang Bukit Jalil.

The ex-parte order was granted by the court at about 3.40pm today. The ex-workers were represented by Afiq Mohamad Noor and Adlan Hadi Yusof.

The residents now hope DBKL will not challenge the order but will instead try to settle the matter by negotiating with them.

G.Vinod | May 13, 2011

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