Kelantan flood victims lose hope of a home after 3 years in huts

Yasmin Ramlan

A boy stares out from his temporary home in Kampung Limau Kasturi, Gua Musang, Kelantan. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Zainal Abd Halim, April 23, 2017.

FARIDAH Ya, 45, gave a sad little smile at the thought of spending her third Ramadan and Hari Raya in the one-room wooden hut that has been home for her family of eight since 2014.

Faridah is one of the thousands who were made homeless when Kelantan was hit in November 2014 by one of the worst floods in recent history.

After the floods destroyed the family home in Kampung Limau Kasturi, Gua Musang, Faridah’s husband tried to salvage the pieces of wood that used to form their house to build a temporary shelter for the family.

Along with several other families, they built their makeshift home on Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd reserve land, thinking it would serve as until they moved into the new home promised by the government.

Now, almost three years later, Faridah said she was resigned to the possibility that the hut was home for many more years to come.

“They tell me my name is on the list to receive a new home, but we haven’t received anything yet,” she said.

Her family is one of the 73 families from Kampung Limau Kasturi who have been living in crudely built houses or staying with relatives since their homes were destroyed in the devastating floods.

“We have gotten used to staying here with our six children. We have no choice,” she told The Malaysian Insight.

Her neighbour Mohd Shaffien Mahmod shared her resignation to their fate, even as he held on to the hope that they would eventually be able to move into a proper home.

“I don’t know when they are going to finish building the new house. The state government has not given us a timeline either.

“We can’t afford to rent a house and as such, we have had to build this one-room place. We all sleep in the living room,” said Shaffien, who has five children.

While 30-year-old Syuhaifeza Mohd Zin counted it a blessing that she did not have to live in a dilapidated hut, she found the delay in the delivery of a home and the lack of information and updates for the flood victims frustrating.

Farida Ya is resigned to the fact that she, her husband, and their six children may have to live in a one-room wooden hut for many more years. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Zainal Abd Halim, April 23, 2017.

The single mother of two, whose house was also destroyed, said enquiries with the authorities had only yielded advice to be patient.

“I heard that people in other villages had received new houses even though their houses were only partially destroyed. But I have gotten nothing.

Syuhaifeza’s family is one of the remaining 10 families in Kampung Aring 2, which is some 30km from Kampung Limau Kasturi, who have yet to receive their new homes. She currently lives with her sister and 14 other relatives in a 3-room house under the Rumah Kekal Baru scheme built by the federal government. 

The year-end floods of 2014, otherwise known as the Yellow Flood, displaced more than 100,000 people and caused some RM30 billion worth of damage in Kelantan. This was the worst recorded flood in Kelantan since the Big Flood in 1967. 

The Yellow Flood affected most of Kelantan except for Bachok and Pasir Puteh.

According to the National Security Council in 2014, 37,499 people or 8,416 families were moved to the 146 emergency centres. According to the Kelantan state government, 2,374 houses were deemed completely destroyed. The worst hit areas were Kuala Krai (1,850 houses), Gua Musang (406), and Machang (51).

The PAS-led state government and the federal government announced that they would allocate land to the victims left homeless by the floods.

The state government said it would help the villagers of Kampung Limau Kasturi, while Barisan Nasional lawmakers pledged to help victims in Kampung Aring 2.

Paloh assemblyperson Nozula Md Piah said the new houses for Kampung Aring 2 victims were delayed because of some residents taking advantage of the situation to also put in a request for a new home.

“Not all of them qualify (for a new home). There are some houses that can be repaired but they (the residents) want new houses from us. Some of the houses weren’t even flooded but the owners also wanted to get new ones from us.”

He said checks to ensure that only those who truly needed a new home would qualify for assistance had delayed work on the new houses.

As for Kampung Limau Kasturi, Nozula said the problem was lack of funding from the Kelantan government. He said the federal government had allocated RM3.7 million for the new houses but he claimed the amount was only enough to build 40 houses.

When The Malaysian Insight contacted the Kelantan local housing, health and environment exco Abdul Fattah Mahmood for comment, he said: “I’m not in Kelantan and I’m on holiday”.

According to social activist Dr Raja Shamri Raja Husin, both the federal government and the state leadership are responsible for the failure to provide basic housing for the flood victims.

“They should just gazette a new plot of land for the relocation. In Kuala Lumpur, when they take back land from illegal settlers, the government will build low-cost housing for the resettled people,” said Raja Shamri, who with his team of volunteers, has worked to provide aid, food, and basic housing for the flood victims since 2014.

He said shortage of funds from the PAS government as well as the BN-led federal government was the reason hundreds of Kelantan folk were still homeless today. – April 23, 2017.

A flood victim stands in front of his house in Kampung Limau Kasturi, Gua Musang, Kelantan. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Zainal Abd Halim, April 23, 2017.

Sign up or sign in here to comment.