Kg Tanjong Tokong folk fighting to end development plans

(The Star) GEORGE TOWN: A Kampung Buah Pala-like controversy is brewing in Kampung Tanjung Tokong where villagers are opposing plans for a mixed-development project.

Mohd Salleh Yahaya, the resident association chairman of the 200-year-old village said they hoped to collect at least 3,000 signatures from concerned Malaysians to voice their displeasure over the move.

Staying put: Mohd Salleh holding up an old newspaper article from The Echo which showed the second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein’s visit to Tanjong Tokong in 1972.

“We will hand over the signatures to the Prime Minister after Raya and seek his intervention in resolving this long-standing issue,” he said at a press conference at the village yesterday.

He claimed that the developer, Uda Holdings, was given a 99-year lease of the land on May 30, 1974, on the condition that any development would be solely for the rehabilitation, reconstruction and renewal of Kampung Tanjong Tokong, and not a prime project for the rich.

He said the signature campaign was also to protest Uda managing director Datuk Jaafar Abu Hassan’s statement recently that the company planned to go ahead with its plans.

On Sept 8, he said Uda planned to build low and medium-cost flats, apartments, condominiums and commercial building, with a gross sale value of between RM800mil and RM1bil, at the site.

Mohd Salleh said 60 houses would be demolished to make way for the development in April, next year.

“The families from 40 of the houses have moved into transit homes provided by Uda as they have given up fighting,” said Mohd Salleh.

“Families from the remaining 20 houses are adamant about staying put. We’ve been told to vacate our homes by October,” he said.

There are currently 1,026 families staying in 260 houses in the village.

According to Mohd Salleh, they were told that they would be given a three-room apartment each, under a special compensation package.

Penang Heritage Trust (PHT) Muslim heritage affairs advisor Datuk Dr Wazir Jahan Karim, who was present, said any development in Tanjong Tokong would have to consider the historical sentimentality of the locals there, or the traditional ambience of the place would be lost forever.

Dr Wazir said PHT was preparing a dossier on the historical evolution of the village, which would be handed to the state and Federal governments.