A Deepavali In the Tent: Residents of Taman Permata Flats Struggle for Decent Housing Continues PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 01 November 2013
Press Statement: 1 November 2013
A Deepavali In the Tent :
Residents of Taman Permata Flats Struggle for Decent Housing Continues

It has been 144 days under the tents for the ex- plantation workers of Putrajaya.

Many argued, the flats condition is safe, why don't they just move in? Why do they have to suffer like this under the tent? They can still continue to pressure for an alternative housing after they move in?

For the people of Taman Permata Dengkil, this is not a struggle for the past 141 days. This has been a struggle since 1993, when their management Golden Hope told the workers that the government has taken the estate land and they can work in any other estates managed by Golden Hope. The workers protested and demanded alternative housing , terrace houses then itself
20 years passed, no changes on the demand. Their demand has been the same. The hope and struggle still remains.

According to the news report on the 19 September 1994 - The STAR,  Selangor Menteri Besar Muhammad Taib told that compensation of house or land can be given to the people. All the developers involved Shah Alam Peroperties, Selangor Economic Development Corperation, Consortium Sepang should be involved with the government in providing the compensation to the workers.

The news on 7 December 1996 - The Star, reported S.Rajagopal, the Selangor State Estate Housing Unity and Consumer Affairs Chairman, also suggested the people to be transferred to the long houses until the low cost house was build for the people. There were supports from other state representatives like Ee Kim Hock(ADUN Telok Dato) who told the state government to build low cost house for the evicted workers.

The news report from The Sun on the 9 October 1997, gloated that Tun Dr Mahathir ( the prime minister then ) proudly launched Putrajaya with the land immensity of 4581 ha, housing 76,000 staffs, 300,000 residents in 67,000 houses with 10,000 of which are low cost houses. None are for these 4 estate workers who toiled for generations on the land to build the nation economically .

Beginning of the year 1998, water and electricity supplies were cut off occasionally. Some workers left. Empty houses were demolished. If you speak to some workers, they would also say l that the  army was brought in to evict them . 1 year later around the month of August 1999, the approximately  400 families from Prang Besar, Sedgeley, Medingley and Galloway were transferred to the flats of Taman Permata Dengkil which they had to pay RM 18,000  each unit.

The 5 blocks in Taman Permata was neat, well all new stuffs will look great at the beginning. In 2001, people started to witness cracks in the walls of their houses. In 2003, the first ever flood happened there. The people still keep  pictures of people crossing the flood which is almost their waist level. The Taman Permata people are used to floods nowadays. They can share stories about travelling on boat during the flood. Imagine, flooding in flats house , that is how bad things are here.

The recent crack and tremors felt at  Block 5 on June 11, 2013, was the last straw. The residents decided that they have to launch a long term struggle to get proper housing, if not they will have to continue to live in fear day in day out. A decent housing is all they ask as the current status of the place they call home is in such a bad condition that even using the toilet in the house is a struggle as water overflows from the toilet to the living room through the walls.
Protests and more protests at Prime Ministers Office and the Housing Ministry in Putrajaya ensured the voices of the people was heard. Now all relevant parties are involved in resolving the housing crisis of the people. This  was achieved after many times the  ex-plantation workers held  placards, chant slogans, had  meetings and so on.
On the 28 September 2013, the residents of Taman Permata Dengkil invited both the state and the federal government to have a dialog in their tent in Taman Permata Dengkil. Great initiative by the residents to bring together the ruling government with different ideologies together. Good discussion but no new outcome. Federal governments requests the exact land from the state, state government requests undertaking to build house from the federal.
However the people are not giving up. The hope and struggle remains strong and burning.
The tent has been a symbol of struggle for alternative housing for more than 4 months now. Some have gone back to their homes. Some keep on the fight. People organize themselves. They build places to sleep in tent. They cook in a community and taste the food together. Now they even have build their own toilet.

The festival of lights, Deepavali, will be a different kind of celebration  for the residents of Taman Permata this year. As we enjoy the celebration with our families in a nice environment , as the leaders of the country have OPEN HOUSES , as we safely stay in our house without fear that it might collapse,  this community of people in Taman Permata Dengkil  will be celebrating it with thoughts of fighting for a decent house and thinking whether  will this festival of lights, light up their life?

Anyway the  hope and struggle still remains for a better housing with a conducive environment for at least their future generation.
Hopefully the Festival of Lights will light up the hearts of the government to provide a decent housing for the ex plantation workers who toiled to build the wealth of the nation
Happy Deepavali from the Residents of Taman Permata Dengkil

Released by,
Coordinator JERIT
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