Tuesday, August 09, 2011

MRT: Chinatown Land Acquisition


Traders and shop owners express their opposition to the proposed acquisition
of their properties for the MRT today. 
— Picture by Jack Ooi

Chinatown businesses suspicious over MRT acquisition
By Melissa Chi August 09, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 9 — Traders and shop owners in the historic tourist enclave of Chinatown expressed outrage today over government plans to acquire properties in the area, and are bracing themselves for the destruction of heritage buildings to make way for the Klang Valley MRT (KVMRT) project.

To date, 34 units have been served compulsory acquisition notices to make way for the KVMRT project, which runs along Jalan Sultan and Jalan Petaling, cutting through the arch that bears the name “Petaling Street” in three languages.

“That means they are trying to chak jiu pai (shut down our business) and cheong ngo dei ge fan woon (steal our livelihood),” said Daniel Wong, a trader who owns multiple properties in the area, during the first meeting with the traders last week. “How can we just stand by and watch?”

Bukit Bintang MP Fong Kui Lun met with the traders today at the Lok Ann Coffee Shop, located in a building which will be acquired as well, and encouraged them to step up their protests and be vocal about their dissatisfaction over the acquisitions.

“Chinatown has witnessed the development of KL. It’s been around for a hundred years,” he said, adding that it was not right for the government to just take their businesses and properties from them. “All we can do now is protest against it.”

[...]

Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua, who was also present to speak with the traders, told The Malaysian Insider that there was no reason for the government to acquire the land specifically for the MRT project.

“The MRT station is actually located a block away, so these shops are actually not above the MRT station itself. They are above the tunnel track but because the tunnel is actually 100 feet below ground, there is no reason for the government to acquire these particular shop lots. So the only reason why they would want to acquire these shop lots is so that they can profit from the appreciation resulting from the construction of the MRT system.

“We disagree with this kind of mechanism for the simple reason that when the government builds infrastructure, it’s meant to benefit the people in and around the area. You cannot, just because you build the infrastructure, claim that all the profits have to go to the government,” he said.

For the full article in The Malaysian Insider, click here.
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