A group of Johor villagers, who received a large sum of cash two decades ago after their land was purchased for the construction of the Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP), are now struggling to pay for their current homes.
In 1996, port officials took over the villages of Tanjung Pelepas and Tanjung Adang, which housed 1,500 people and have a combined area of 1,416.4 hectares, or about the size of 1,700 football fields.
As compensation, the 400 families that previously lived there, who were primarily engaged fishing and farming, each received between RM400,000 and RM600,000. But around 60 households now cannot pay for the relatively affordable price tags of their homes after they had splurged their land compensation on luxury cars, invested in get-rich-quick scams, or freely shared their cash with relatives and friends.
“We received about RM548,000 in compensation for a 0.8ha land in 1996, which my late husband used to buy a plot of land in Indonesia, and as an investment to set up a petrol station,” said Mak Long, a 72-year-old orang Asli housewife from Kampung Tanjung Pelepas.
However, both businesses stopped operating after several months. “So when port officials told us that we have to pay RM45,000 for the house some six years after receiving the compensation, we could not afford the payment.”
Mak Long explained that many of the villagers thought that the homes were part of the land compensation, in addition to the cash they got.
“I suggested to the company that I pay them RM200 monthly but they insisted that we take up bank loans, which we feel is unfair as we will end up paying more due to interest rate,” she added.
Mak Long, who has gotten two eviction notices over the last two years, now fears of losing her house, given that three of her nine children are still living with her.
Meanwhile, 60-year-old Shamsuddin Abd Hamid said they had been provided with compensation amounting to RM200,000. Back then, he was still living with his mother-in-law.
“In 2002, despite us not being able to pay for the house, an official handed over the keys to our unit and a RM1,000 relocation payment, telling us to move in.”
“The issue has resurfaced. I received two eviction notices, one last year and another three months ago. Where are we supposed to go now?” he queried.
According to Datuk Abdul Latiff Bandi, Chairman of Johor’s Local Government and Housing Committee, they are looking into this issue, and port officials have already sent several notices to families who have not yet paid for their homes.
“It is understood that the residents were issued court notices for not paying their dues and some even rented out their unpaid houses to others,” he added.
Mangalesri Chandrasekaran, Editor at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact her about this or other stories email firstname.lastname@example.org