Sorry …. but no cure
Managing Director of KTMB apologises for negligence and high-handedness
of  KTMB officers
The managing director of KTMB, Dato Mohd Nor Idrus, today apologised to
former railway workers for exposing them, along with hundreds of others
to cancer-causing asbestos dust while demolishing KTM quarters and
houses of former workers along Spooner Road, Falim, Ipoh. He also
expressed regret for failing to give adequate notice to the people
before breaking.
KTMB which is clearing land from Rawang to Ipoh for the RM4 billion
double track electric railway project has been trying to evict former
workers living on its land since May 2000. In May of this year, the
Kampung KTM residents were given notices to move out within three weeks
failing which they would face a jail sentence of one year and /or a 
of  RM10 000.The question of resettlement or compensation was not
The Kg KTM residents protested the notice by lodging a police report
against the Kinta Land Office. In June 2000, the Mentri Besar of Perak
responded to the Kampung KTM people by making an offer of housing lots
for the families concerned, and he also directed the KTMB and the Kinta
Land Office not to carry out eviction until the people are resettled.
In late September and October 2000, KTMB ignored the Mentri Besar’s 
by entering the kampung and demolishing both quarters and some wooden
houses. KTMB’s arrogance and irresponsibility in demolishing the
quarters with asbestos-roofing has exposed hundreds of people in the
vicinity to the risk of cancer. It seems poor people’s lives are cheap,
and as children played nearby, oblivious to the danger of inhaling
asbestos dust, the bulldozer hacked away mindlessly. Absolutely no
safety precautions were taken in the demolition of the asbestos roofing
despite KTMB’s earlier assurance that it was fully aware of how 
material should be dismantled.
After several attempts to get KTMB to dialogue before taking action
failed, as a last resort, a representation of the affected people went
to the headquarters in Kuala Lumpur to hand over a memorandum to the
managing director. The demands were simple: 1. Don’t break our houses,
2.  Remove the asbestos debris in accordance with all the safety
precautions, so as not to further expose us to the risk of cancer, and
3. Dialogue to settle the problem of housing.
The KTMB security guards locked the main gate once they saw the
residents alighting from their bus. However when the residents unfurled
their banner and started chanting “Rundinglah,  rundinglah, KTM
rundinglah”, and the public startted to lend support, KTMB management
quickly invited a delegation of the residents in for a meeting with the
big boss, Dato Mohd Nor Idrus.
Dato Idrus denied all knowledge of the activities of his demolition
squads (many of whom were in the meeting room), and sternly reprimanded
them in front of the residents. He promised that the demolition would 
halted, and that KTMB will negotiate before any further action. He
revealed the following:
i. KTMB will require the land on which the former workers are living in
December of this year
ii. KTMB will pay a sum of RM 1000 to each family to subsidise expenses
incurred in shifting out.
iii. KTMB will pay RM300 per month to each family to subsidise their
rent while low-cost houses are constructed for them.
The offer of low-cost housing came as a bombshell to the people who had
been promised housing lots by the Menteri Besar. According to Dato
Idrus, Dato Rajoo, the Perak State Exco member delegated by the Menteri
Besar to oversee the resettlement of the KTM residents had agreed to
this plan.
The KTM residents are disappointed that despite their numerous letters
and consultations with Rajoo, during which they had clearly made-known
their preference for lots as promised by the Menteri Besar, he had
worked behind their backs, agreeing to low-cost houses without
consulting them and getting their feedback. The people feel let down by
Dato Rajoo, and have lost confidence in his ability to represent them.
They are planning to meet the MB to resolve their issue.