12 families in Beratok endure agonizing 30-year wait for land titles

Lee (right) and Lai at Beratok makeshift hawker centre.
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By Lian Cheng and Peter Sibon

SERIAN, Feb 14: More than 12 families in Beratok village are still waiting for their land titles which they have applied for many times over the last three decades.

Kapitan Lee Syian Yih, 57, said all these 12 families had been living here for about 30 years.

He said there were about 350 families living in Beratok village and 12 of these families still had problems applying for land titles while the rest had already been issued titles when they moved here during the Communist Insurgency.

According to Lee, out of the 12 families, four were from Sri Aman and they were asked to resettle by the authorities during the signing of Sri Aman Peace Treaty.

Another four families  were squatters who had settled there for decades.

The last four families, according to Lee, bought their houses from the original settlers more than 30 years ago.

Beratok resident Simon Lai Kim Hoi, 44, was one of those from the last category.

“I moved here when I was 3 years old. Between then and now, my father and I have applied at least 20 times.

“My father has since passed away, and I am still applying. I have applied about seven to eight times by now and my application has yet to be approved.

“I hope the government can look into our issue and expedite our applications. After all, we are true residents and have been residing here for more than three decades,” Lai told DayakDaily.

A look back at Beratok then and now

The makeshift hawker centre of Beratok.

Beratok, like Tapah and Siburan, were settlements identified for the Chinese during the Communist insurgency. But while Tapah and Siburan are thriving and expanding, Beratok seemed to have been neglected.

As Kapitan of the village, Lee hoped to see Beratok regain its former glory.

“The old Kuching-Serian Road used to pass through Beratok Bazaar. That was when we had our glorious day as this was the place to converge and meet.

“But when the new Kuching-Serian Road was built, the villagers at the opposite of the present Kuching-Serian Road all preferred to shop and hang out at Siburan. That was when Beratok remained stagnant,” explained Lee.

Lee said despite the lack of economic activities, Beratok was not neglected by the government in its infrastructure improvement.

“Beratok became a resettlement area in 1963. So many of its infrastructure is getting old. Recently, a new pipe line has replaced the old ones. And for that we are very grateful.

“However, we also hope that the government can help us build a hawker centre and a public toilet urgently. Presently, the hawker centre is a makeshift, built by the hawkers themselves on a car park by a roadside in the Beratok Bazaar.

“We hope the government can look into it. All the three hawkers who are operating now are local residents of Beratok,” said Lee. —DayakDaily

A scene of Kampung Beratok.