GEORGE TOWN, Dec 29 – Police today ordered the residents of Kampung Mutiara in Batu Ferringhi, near here, who had staged a protest gathering to disperse, after obtaining a court order to postpone their eviction from the village. Northeast district police chief, Mior Faridalathrash Wahid said following discussion with the land owner and the court registrar today, the eviction exercise was deferred for one month from today.
“Although the land owner had a court order to evict the residents from the village, the decision today was made based on security factor. The one-month grace period will give those involved, time to discuss and avoid any undesirable incident from happening,” he told the villagers.
Bukit Bendera UMNO division chief, Datuk Ahmad Ismail hoped the land owner would be open to discussion, and said he was working closely with the state government to protect the villager’s rights. He said the Implementation Coordination Unit under the Prime Minister’s Department had allocated RM22 million to buy back the land and carry out development for the villagers.
He added that a letter had been sent to land owner Peter Loke’s lawyer on Aug 27, stating the intention to purchase the land, but there was no reply. The residents had gathered as early as 7am today to form a human barricade to protect their village after news spread that the land owner would demolish about 64 houses and evict almost 200 people from the village.
This was the second time the land ower had tried to remove the residents from the village after the first attempt in mid-October failed when the villagers came out in protest. The dispute came about after the court’s decision favoured the land owner who had bought the 1.4ha piece in 1991.
Following that, a writ was issued for the villagers to vacate their homes, but they refused to do so, claiming they received no appropriate compensation although they have been living in the village since the 1950’s. Meanwhile, Penang UMNO and the state government teamed up today to protect the villagers facing demolition of their homes.
Bukit Bendera Member of Parliament, Zairil Khir Johari said he together with the villagers and UMNO representative had a meeting until 2am to strategise how to handle the situation today. He said the case was still pending in the Court of Appeal to overwrite the High Court’s decision and there should not be any action against the villagers.
Among others spotted with the villagers this morning were Penang UMNO secretary Datuk Musa Sheikh Fadzir, Teluk Bahang assemblyman Datuk Shah Headan Ayoob Shah Hussain and Tanjung Bungah Assemblyman Teh Yee Cheu. Batu Ferringhi JKKKP chairman Ismadi Abu Bakar said the villagers were sleepless last night as they were afraid their homes would be demolish. He said they were told to cooperate with the police in order not to worsen the situation as the case is still pending in court.