Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Former estate workers want developer to fulfil low-cost house promise

More than 100 former estate workers from Sungai Belata, Hulu Selangor have urged the police to investigate a property developer, after its subsidiaries allegedly failed to build low-cost single-storey terrace houses for them as promised. Holding placards and banners, the group, comprising of former estate workers and their family members, lodged more than 60 police reports at the Hulu Selangor police headquarters, some 60km away from Kuala Lumpur. The reports were against the property developer and two of its subsidiaries. One of the subsidiaries no longer existed. Parti Sosialis Malaysia's secretary-general S. Arutchelvan said the ex-estate workers decided to lodge police reports because they suspected misappropriation because the companies failed to build the houses. "As parent company, we think the developer company should take responsibility over this matter," he said. He also questioned the company's motive of not building the houses as promised and left the land vacant. Arutchelvan said based on the workers complaints, their predicament started in 1994, when the estate was sold off and workers were allegedly promised houses by then Selangor menteri besar Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib. He said about 64 families had signed the sale and purchase agreement with one of the subsidiaries in 2001. "They were also promised a hall, a Tamil school, a temple and a cemetery in the new housing area. "These former estate workers had paid a deposit of RM2,500 in 2001 and some of them had taken bank loans of RM25,000 (the cost of the low cost house)," Arutchelvan said. He  added that some of them were still repaying the loans while others had been blacklisted by banks for defaulting on their loans. "Every time there is an election, there will be news that houses will be built, but until today nothing has been done." He said the parent company also did not make any attempt to explain the situation or return back the deposits of the former workers. Last October, an action committee was formed and letters were sent to the Selangor menteri besar, the state exco in charge of estate workers' welfare and the Land office. Arutchelvan said they would meet Ganapathi Rao Veraman, who is the Selangor exco for estate workers, poverty and caring government to discuss the matter. Former estate workers and their children interviewed today did not want to give their full names but told of the long years they had waited for their homes, only to be cheated in this manner. Mohana, 26 who came with her mother Muniamah, 67, from Slim River, said her mother had waited for 23 years for the houses to be built. "My mother's only hope is to get a house, where she can spend the rest of her life," she said adding that her mother, who was a former worker of the estate, was evicted in 1994. Selvam, 53, who had taken loans in 2001 on behalf of his 73-year-old mother said he was still paying the loan despite the fact that no houses have been built. "My mother used to work at the estate for about 35 years. I hope the state government will take appropriate action to solve this matter," he said. – February 17, 2016.]]>

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