The action of a group of people, claiming to be residents of Kampong DBI, who brought a live 10-foot python to the State Secretariat Building on Thursday, May 19 was unwarranted, said Mayor Roshidi Hashim in a media statement released on Friday, May 20. The incident had gained much publicity in the local dallies.
“Foremost, there is no such Kampong DBI in existence. These so-called residents are squatting on a piece of land belonging to city council at Jalan Spooner in Buntong,” said Roshidi.
The claimants, according to the statement, have been squatting illegally on the council’s land since the 1970s and have refused to move out. MBI had offered in the 90s, low-cost houses worth RM12, 000 each in Taman Perpaduan, Tambun but the offer was rejected.
Their refusal to move out of the 38-acre site has derailed the council’s plans to develop the land. Being rarely maintained, the area is overgrown with thick undergrowth and has become a breeding ground for snakes and other creepy crawlies.
The residents’ objective in bringing the slithery reptile to the State Secretariat Building was to highlight the authorities’ indifference towards their well-being to the Menteri Besar. Their request for land titles had been ignored by the state government. Conditions in their settlement have gone from bad to worse.
“Out of humanitarian consideration, city council will initiate action to clean up the area” said Roshidi. The mayor bemoaned the squatters’ reaction to council workers who came to clean up the area in the past. “They’ve misconstrued the workers’ presence as an attempt to destroy their dwellings and to forcibly remove them.” They erected barriers to stop council staff from entering.
One long-term measure considered to overcome the problem is the building of low-cost houses. These houses will be offered to the squatters on a rent or a rent-and-purchase basis. Those who could not afford to rent or buy the houses will be given alternative accommodation in council flats within the city.
“I hope they’ll cooperate so the problem could be resolved amicably,” Roshidi added.
The squatters had demonstrated in front of the State Secretary Building during the opening session of the state assembly on April 12. Police had arrested a number of activists including members of a political party.