AMPANG, 23 Apr: The Pakatan Rakyat administration and the Barisan Nasional administration is like heaven and earth if compared.
The expression came from the mouth of Umar Hamzah Yaacob, an important character that rose up to defend the rights of the residents in Kampung Berembang, an urban settlers village which was demolished under the previous Umno-BN administration.
Today, more than 690 residents of the village live comfortably in their apartment units which were fought for by the Selangor Pakatan Rakyat Government in July last year.
However, Umar Hamzah still remembers the painful incident six years ago when the village that existed before Independence, was demolished for development purposes.
According to the website by Jerit.org, an NGO, the Malay majority villagers were against the demolishing of the village. Villagers protested together with several NGOs to prevent the entry of construction machinery.
Even Umar Hamzah, who is very vocal, protested to transfer the Umno-BN government at the time with 68 other residents who were blacklisted and relegated from claiming compensation.
Umar Hamzah said that he opposed the transfer and the demolition because the previous Umno-BN government did not guarantee that they will be able to receive bank loans for new homes.
“Indeed, what we expected really happened. When it was time for the transfer process for the homes offered, many did not qualify for a loan. Almost half the residents did not qualify,” he said.
The apartment housing project which was to replace the village homes were haunted by many problems since it was built in 2005.
But the apartment project was not completed until Pakatan Rakyat took over the administration of Selangor in March 2008.
The Chairman of Pangsapuri Berembang Indah, Noralizan Ali claimed that there were Umno-BN related parties who had booked 150 housing units to be sold to the residents at a higher price.
“They paid at a price of around RM35,000 for a house to developers. But the homes were resold at RM60,000 to RM70,000.
Finally, the project was completed after they appealed to the Chief Minister and the Housing Exco, Iskandar Abdul Samad.
“We appealed to the current Chief Minister (Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim), who is attentive, and urged for these homes to be completed. Iskandar Abdul Samad worked hard to ensure that we get these homes,” added Noralizan.
Housing units which are “reserved” by unscrupulous people also managed to be rescued and given to families who were previously blacklisted.
Eventually, all of the original settlers of Kampung Berembang received the keys to their new housing units in July last year.