When folks lose the roof over their heads…

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Photograph: Free Malaysia Today

Why are we displacing such historical communities and treating them like refugees, asks JD Lovrenciear.

“More than 1,000 residents on Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) land in Jinjang, Segambut” could reportedly lose their homes – all because they have to supposedly “make way for a development project’.

Is this the first and only such case of forced evictions in this beloved land of ours? Certainly not.

According to the news, when their temporary occupation licence or “TOL expired in 1996, they applied to renew the licence in 2004 but it never got approved”.

And the developer wants to evict them for a development project that remains mysteriously shrouded.

This is gross injustice.

While we give millions of foreign nationals job opportunities that eventually help to build their own families back home, our own citizens are displaced in their own land in the name of development.

Many of these TOL developments provide generations of cohesive bonding and a community of people who have become examples of good neighbourliness over two or even three generations.

Great memories and poignant sentiments are shared in all such settlement housings.

But the authorities are short-sighted in selling off such parcels for the sake of profit and replacing such villages with so-called modernity or what is deemed as “progress and development”.

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How can we continue to rob citizens of their legacy built and nurtured over decades? How can a responsible government let the fate of families suffer in the hands of new owners, the developers, who buy large tracts of land to embark on hugely profitable ventures?

Do we not realise that many of these resettlement areas like the Jinjang Segambut case are great examples of communities that have lived, grown up, and continue to thrive with their own history of community development? Why are we displacing such historical communities and treating them like refugees?

We must stop such modern-day land grabs in the guise of ‘development’.

New superstructures cannot build a Malaysian neighbourhood. Settlement villages ensure a continuity of the Malaysian potpourri of culture and community.

We must recognise that the two or three generations of people who have been living in their TOL homes would have invested so much in terms of their money and time and toil to call their houses homes.

Hopefully the new government will not continue the old ways of the previous monopoly regime.

Otherwise there is no ‘Malaysia Baru’, truly. Just old wine in new skins.

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JD Lovrenciear
JD Lovrenciear, an Aliran member, is a KL-based writer, trainer and consultant who also offers his time to support initiatives to build a progressive society.

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