The 75 families residing in Kampung Tai Lee in Ipoh, which is probably the only village still existing in a major city in Malaysia, have decided to appeal a High Court decision that they vacate their homes by April next year in return for compensation of RM10,000.

DAP MP for Ipoh Barat M Kulasegaran, long-time counsel to the eviction-threatened residents who inhabit six acres of land, said the court-ordered compensation quantum was "manifestly inadequate."

"These villagers have been staying in the kampung for decades and in 1995 renovated their houses and on those grounds were granted a 30-year lease on the land by operation of the National Land Code," said the DAP national vice-chairperson.

NONEBut Kulasegaran (left) said that in 1997, the land owner wanted the land for commercial development and began to serve eviction notices to the residents on the grounds that the residents were illegal occupiers.

But this was denied by the villagers who said they have been paying RM5 to RM10 as ground rental.

A long battle ensued with some sign of a satisfactory resolution when the Pakatan Rakyat took control of the Perak state government after the March 2008 general election.

Kulasegaran said Pakatan moved to allocate four acres of vacant land adjoining Kg Tai Lee for the building of low-cost flats or alternatively, to subdivide the land and hand the lots to the villagers.

But the Pakatan government was deposed after a 11-month tenure and with that the possible resolution of the matter through development or subdivision of the adjoining four acres withered on the vine.

A deal that's far from satisfactory

Kulasegaran said that in early January 2010, BN Menteri Besar Zambry Abdul Kadir attended a gotong royong organised by the residents during which the MB urged the Ipoh Town Council to find a solution to the villagers' problem.

"But the matter has not moved beyond earnest expressions of a desire to help but no real movement towards a solution of the problem," said Kulasegaran.

"Now with the court having ruled that the villagers must vacate the land by next April in return for compensation of RM10,000 for each family, the villagers have wound up with a deal that's far from satisfactory," he asserted.

He said he and another lawyer, N Selvam, will act for the villagers in their appeal of the High Court decision.

"The compensation is manifestly inadequate. The villagers are at the bottom of the ladder and have nowhere to go. Compensation of only RM10,000 will see them reduced from their present state of abject poverty to grinding penury," opined Kulasegaran.