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Kg Medan: Malaysia's Kampung Unrest- Why?
By CL Tan

14/3/2001 5:24 pm Wed

[Kejadian Kg Medan adalah kesan daripada masalah sosio ekonomi akibat kemiskinan dan terbiar. Ada 6 kampung setinggan besar di sini. Ia turut menjadi tempat gangster beroperasi tetapi polis kurang mengambil perduli tetapi mereka begitu cepat pula bertindak jika ada perhimpunan reformasi.
- Editor



Reporting Kuala Lumpur

Mar 12, 2001

[There were no racial clashes, but when people start spreading rumours that Indians are attacking Malays, then people come out and it happens.

- Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, on Saturday]

THOSE who know the riot-torn kampung area have always viewed it as a small volcano waiting to erupt.

Partly because of the gangs that operate here.

Partly because of its history of bad temper over territory. (The area is made up of six major squatter settlements: Kampung Datuk Hormat, Kampung Lindungan, Kampung Medan, Kampung Ghandi, Kampung Datuk Harun and Kampung Lindungan Jaya.)

And partly, because of the underlying poverty.

It is a totally different world from urban Petaling Jaya with its run-down houses and garbage-strewn streets.

The main tarred road that leads into the settlements is narrow and dusty. It has no streetlights.

In the past year or so, there have been clashes between Malay gangs and Indian groups. Three months ago, a 20-year-old youth had his arm severed by a gang in a territorial clash.

The last straw came last Sunday. A fight broke out between friends and relatives of two neighbours - one was celebrating a wedding, the other was holding a funeral.

The quarrel broke out over the erection of a tent for the wedding outside a home.

A man on his way to attend a relative's funeral was unhappy when he found the road partially blocked. An argument broke out between the two sides when the man started to pull down the tent.

But it did not end there.

Instead, the angry man returned with several friends, armed with parangs, and attacked the family holding the wedding.


The bridegroom's father was slashed in the hands while one of his relatives had his right arm nearly severed. By the middle of last week, tensions had escalated in the settlements.

On Thursday evening, a clash broke out in Taman Desa Ria flats in Kampung Lindungan after a neighbour tried to stop a quarrel between two groups over a slingshot missile that broke a car's windscreen.

When the peacemaker was beaten up, other residents got involved.

By midnight, fights between the different communities worsened and police were called in.

Why ghetto is a tinder box

THE violence in this area is a social problem that has been long overlooked, said some observers.

It is a small rundown area, passing between medium-cost housing estates in Jalan Klang Lama and up-market residential enclave, Bandar Sunway, in Petaling Jaya.

Street-wise kids play on the road and vehicles can be found parked haphazardly.

Those riding motorcycles in this area are normally without crash helmets.

Few pay any heed to rules and regulations, including signboards put up to remind them to keep the area clean.

In many ways, these settlements resemble a ghetto. Thousands live here in squalid condition.

Some manage to flee to the low- and medium-cost housing projects within the area. Those who can't escape have learnt to put up with the frequent gang fights related to drugs and secret societies.

The authorities have not been able to curb these illegal activities. In the past three years, the police have handled more than 40 violent cases involving the squatters and those living in the vicinity.

Said a senior Selangor police officer who looks after the area: "We can't do much. We arrest the culprits, but they will get out on bail and start their nonsense again.

"We tried hard enough to move the squatters from here, but failed. The police know this is a problematic area. But they simply cannot put a brake to stop the growing number of crimes..."

Taman Medan State Assemblyman Puan Norkhaila Jamaluddin said the lack of development had a lot to do with the status the area had earned: "I know they are very frustrated. But the government is working to re-locate the squatters so the area would no longer be packed."

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