Kampung Hakka is a village in Mantin, Negeri Sembilan. It’s a settlement which dates back over a hundred years. In 2011, the land was acquired by Mega 9 Sdn Bhd. and the residents were served a notice to vacate. Some chose to accept compensation and leave. Others, however, stayed put.
On 31 October, demolition of the houses began. Police detained 19 people for trying to block the destruction, including state opposition MPs and state assemblymen. Residents appealed to the High Court but were not successful in obtaining a stay on the order to demolish the houses.
Some families in the 33 acre Kampung Hakka have lived here for five generations. Some homes were built by residents’ parents. The compensation offered by Mega 9 Sdn Bhd amounts to up to RM12,000 per household – a fraction of the cost needed to buy a new home in Mantin.
Residents claim they were never informed of the land sale, which developers now plan to turn into a new township. Heritage groups, residents and activists have come together to support the community. Rakan Mantin, a group affiliated to Rakan KL, organised a “Last Walk” in the village last weekend and shared a meal prepared by locals.
Kris Khaira, a web designer from PJ, went to show his support. His photographs capture the poignant details of life among the destruction: temple murals, children’s toys and household furniture. But he said the atmosphere there was “optimistic” with residents supporting each other. Four houses had been demolished but several others were still standing.
Having grown up in Penang, Kris remembers when Kampung Buah Pala was razed to build a condo. “I just feel this sort of thing could happen to anyone and it will keep happening,” he says. “People only pay attention when it happens to people they know. It becomes a trend. We have to resist this culture of over-development.”
All photos courtesy of Kris Khaira.