By BORNEOTODAY REPORTERS
TAWAU: Chan Foong Hin, the Sri Tanjong Assemblyman has concurred with the Tawau Municipal Council’s announcement that no rebuilding of houses is to be allowed at the site of the fire recent fire at Kampung Hidayat water village, Mile 4, Jalan Apas.
Instead of rebuilding, Chan has called for the relocation of the refugee settlement which was originally built on a 14-hectare site, but what irked him most was the fact locals were among the victims of the massive fire.
Chan remarked: “I don’t understand why in the first place there are Malaysians living in a Filipino refugee settlement, not paying for any utilities but yet they can enjoy it.
“How can this happen and from what I know this has been going on for years. Do we have no enforcement?”
Some 261 houses occupying 6.5 hectares of the settlement was razed in the fire last Saturday afternoon, leaving a total of 1,960 people, of which 1,141 are Malaysians and the remainder foreigners.
The DAP Sabah Secretary said what had happened to Kampung Hidayat today is the consequences of improper planning by the government as to how to handle the complicated refugee settlement issue.
He said according to Alijus Sipil, the council president, more than 30 per cent of the villagers involved in the fire incident were foreigners, and the houses were not legally registered under Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd.
Chan wondered how come many enjoyed electricity connection, and similarly, how did they manage to get water supply when only 30 households were registered under the Water Deparment.
He also expressed his hope that the council could take action professionally to restrict any rebuilding of houses oat the site, and that there be no political interference in this affair.
“I warn those who want to oppose the order of rebuilding; don’t just look at your own political interest, but look at Sabahan’s best interest first,” he said in a statement.
“I still remember what was said by Teo Chee Kang, the Special Functions Minister in the State Assembly sitting last November that the government would propose to Putrajaya to relocate the refugee settlement schemes to other better suitable location.
“What is the status now? Before any relocation can take place, part of Kampung Hidayat was burnt down,” he said adding that there are four other refugee settlement schemes in Sabah, including in Telipok, Kinarut, Kampung Bahagia, Sandakan and Kampung Selamat, Semporna.
Sukarti Wakiman, the Sabah state secretary on Tuesday had said the government will be holding discussions on suitable areas to relocate the fire victims.
He said a temporary relocation centre for the victims has been opened at Mile 2 of Jalan Apas but many have chosen to stay behind with their relatives instead.
Sukarti said the state government did not rule out the possibility of relocating the victims to a new location which is deemed more suitable.