(EXCLUSIVE) Farewell, Kampung Hailam

Kelly Koh

MALACCA: AN air of sadness hung over Kampung Hailam in Tanjung Kling here recently as 40 families prepare to leave their homes in the century-old coastal village, which will be cleared for development.

They have been ordered to vacate, by landowner Mara Holdings Sdn Bhd, by March 13.

Teary-eyed Ee Nyiok Yin@Je Nyiok Yin, 76, said she had been having sleepless nights, dreading the deadline.

“My family has lived here for six generations. It breaks my heart that I have to tear it down. This is the only home I have and it was passed down by my late husband,” said Ee.

Ee, who is from Paya Rumput here, had lived in the village for more than 58 years after marrying her husband.

“I am very sad. Words cannot describe how I feel.”

Recounting fond memories she has of the village here, Ee said she missed laughing and chatting with her neighbours and practising taichi by the sea every morning.

“We have so many wonderful memories. So many special moments,” said Ee, who has six children and 17 grandchildren.

Ee, who lives with her aunt, son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren, said they would relocate to Taman Paya Emas in Cheng.

There are 50 homes with more than 200 residents in the village, with 10 homes demolished so far.

It was learnt that the owners received eviction notices from the landowners on April 25, 2013.

A second notice was issued in 2015, asking owners to relocate by June last year following a total compensation of RM790,000.

The last time they were asked to move out was on Jan 12 this year, asking for residents to relocate by Feb 10.

But residents appealed for an extension as they had to celebrate Chinese New Year.

They also appealed to the state government to offer affordable homes in Klebang.

A meeting on Feb 13 between the government and lawyers representing the house owners and landowners agreed to extend the deadline to March 13.

If residents failed to move out, they would be charged RM1,000 monthly as rent, and this would be increased to RM2,000 in June.

They will also receive 25 per cent of the house value in ex-gratia if they agree to relocate by March 13.

Resident Lim Juat Jon, 68, who has lived in the village since birth, said she would miss her home and the close-knit community the most.

“We are the only village where we celebrate the three main festivals together – Chinese New Year, Mooncake Festival and Mother’s Day.

“Everyone in this village is like a brother or sister. We greet each other every day and everyone is always willing to offer help.

“It is also where we have family reunions, as some have left to work outstation,” she said.

The village is next to the state’s oldest Malacca Rotunda Club, where the Hainanese who migrated from China settled at the shoreline.

The villagers started off as fishermen, while some were bakers and cooks.

Koh Tat Mou, 54, who has now relocated to a new place over the past week, said he was sad.

“Here I am, sitting at a bench under the tree looking at my house being demolished.

“I have lived here since I was born, and this was passed down by my grandfather,” said Koh, as he watched workers tear down his wooden home.

“I am having sleepless nights at my new home in Tanjung Kling as I am unable to get used to sleeping in a new place without seeing the sea anymore,” he said.