Struggle for housing rights has been always the core our struggles in the last 25 years. This was mainly due to the kind of issues that we had to deal with in the 1990’s till now. This was time there were so many forced evictions happening, due to the development of cities in KL, Perak, Penang etc,. Many urban pioneer villages in the suburban parts of the cities approached PSM for help when they were facing urgent eviction by either new land owners, developers or the government itself.
The same scenario was also seen when plantations especially in Selangor and Perak were taken up for property development and the workers were retrenched and evicted from their quarters. Thus PSM key achievements through our struggles can be summarized as follows;
- Selangor state policy on housing for estate workers.
PSM comrades, namely Dr Nasir Hashim, V Selvam and comrades Ramah were directly fighting the eviction of Sg Rasah Estate workers in Klang, when the estate went for development. Their persistent and popular struggle led the State Exco of Selangor to intervene to resolve their housing woes. The workers demanded alternate housing since the plantation, the community the workers had for generation was now earmarked for development, where the developers will make huge profits. From their brave struggle, the workers were offered alternate housing and compensation.
The then Selangor State Exco in charge of Estate Workers introduced a state policy where by requiring all plantations companies planning to develop their estate land to provide alternate housing and resolve the estate workers issues first before developing the estate. This policy introduced in 1991, is effective till today.
2. Housing for urban pioneers.
Dr Nasir and V Selvam during their activist days in Jawatankuasa Sokongan Peneroka Bandar (JSPB) were successful in fighting against developers whom shamelessly evicted kampongs developed by urban pioneers in the 1980’s and 1990’s. It was a time when the government nor the developers refused to recognize your rights on the land, as a urban pioneer. During the 1970’s many people from the rural villages were invited to the city like Kuala Lumpur to clear and occupy vacant land and forest . They were encouraged to build their houses there and work in the cities providing the much needed labor for services and the factories.
Later in the late 1980’s, these land were alienated to property developers and construction companies , building and expanding the city as a commercial centre. Thus those whom were invited to the cities two decades ago were now looked upon as illegal squatters occupying illegally these lands. The urban pioneers are not illegal squatters as they have cleared the land, cleared the jungle , built their houses, developed their own community and were also provided with services such as electricity, water , postal etc,. from the local authorities.
Based on the above rationale, our comrades pressed on fighting evictions with the village folk. Through their multi prong struggle, even the courts recognized that these are not squatters but urban pioneers. It is than that , the State Government set out a policy to ensure that alternate low cost housing to purchase or public housing to rent was provided before any developer or land owner was allowed to develop the lands occupied by urban pioneers. This was the victory of the urban pioneers struggle led by PSM comrades.
(more information to be updated).