Dr Yii, Suhakam Sarawak to work together to help Kg Chawan squatters

Dr Yii (second right) exchanging notes and information with Suhakam Sarawak commissioner Dr Madeline (second left) and Yong (right).

By Nancy Nais

KUCHING, Aug 8: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii and Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) Sarawak will combine forces to collect information from all the residents who are currently squatting at Kampung Chawan.

This is especially for children living in the colony to ensure that they have proper documentation in order to atend school.

On July 31, DayakDaily highlighted issues facing the residents who live next to graves, encounter problems accessing basic infrastructure and struggle with urban poverty.

The living and the deceased exist side by side at Kampung Chawan.
Lack of access to sanitation infrastructure and services pose a hazard to residents.

After visiting the colony of about 50 families today, Dr Yii said at the moment, their main concern for these villagers are proper documentation, children’s education and health.

“Urban poverty is always a complex issue from all angles. That is why I am here today, to see and hear from them, to better understand their problems and see how we can help to address it in holistic manner from short, medium to long-term on what we can do to help them.

“We know that many of them come from rural areas to cities, mainly to look for better job opportunities and education for their children. However, due to limited jobs, they end up squatting and some of these children cannot go to school,” Dr Yii said, adding that some of the villagers have been squatting here for the past 30 years.

Lack of access to basic infrastructure such as water and electricity supply has made life even more difficult for Kampung Chawan residents.

In order to ensure that all these children get to attend school, Dr Kelvin and Suhakam Sarawak will assist with obtaining necessary information and documents, such as concerning registration of birth certificates (if the residents do not have them) and other important documents, which they will hand over to the National Registration Department (JPN).

With proper documentation, Dr Yii said these children can at least attend school as education is the only way out of poverty.

Healthcare is also a concern, as these villagers are living under non-conducive conditions.

Since there are some sick and handicapped people living in the village, Dr Yii said he will liaise with some non-governmental organisations (NGO) and doctors to see if they can conduct a general health screening, or refer them to health facilities.

This, he said, includes mental healthcare which some of the villagers there are in need of.

Dr Yii and Yong giving stationery and exercise books to children at the Kampung Chawan squatter colony.

Since the land upon which the villagers are squatting belongs to Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU) and is also partially privately owned, Dr Yii added that basic necessities such as electricity and water are a bit difficult to access because the land is not theirs.

“We will see how we can address this part in long-term measures. We need the corporation from the state government in terms of land and other, different things. Land matters are under the jurisdiction of the state,” he added, when asked on the feasibility of relocating the villagers.

Also present during the visit was Suhakam Sarawak commissioner Dr Madeline Berma and Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong. — DayakDaily