Letter: Protect former estate workers

In the light of the current Bukit Jalil estate saga, we feel there are too many instances of former estate workers being given a raw deal when their estates are sold or converted for commercial purposes.

The government ought to come out with a policy to ensure that the rights of the estate workers, which include proper housing, are protected.

In early 1970s, the late Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak introduced a housing scheme called Estate Workers Revolving Fund for House Ownership, which allows estate workers to buy houses. The scheme never materialised.

The Selangor state government had also once attempted to come out with a policy urging plantations to build houses for estate workers in the early 1990s, but this too did not materialise.

We empathise with the current state of the Bukit Jalil estate residents, and we feel it is unfair to ask them to move to the nearby Projek Perumahan Rakyat Termiskin (PPRT) since there was an agreement that the families would be provided with low-cost houses.

The residents deserve better treatment and the current landowners should allocate four acres of land to the former estate workers out of the 35-acre plot.

These are people who had toiled the land and made it profitable.

The Federal Territories and Urban Well-Being Ministry should also play its part in obtaining for the residents a better compensation package.

There have been instances of estate workers being well compensated when the land undergoes a change in ownership.

Former estate workers in Bukit Tinggi were given ground floor low-cost flats while the Kinrara estate residents were given low-cost houses in Kinrara itself. Among the other fairly compensated former estate workers include those from Brookland, Banting, Sungai Rasah and Braemar.

We hope that this issue will be solved wisely, and that both parties would mutually agree before any sort of development takes place on the Bukit Jalil estate land.

T. Mohan is the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) youth chief.