A banner stating their demands | Photos by Pepper Lim

Pepper Lim shares with little Paprika his experience visiting the blighted Taman Permata Dengkil flats.

Dear Paprika,

This evening I visited the Taman Permata Dengkil flats with Uncle Kar Jin and Auntie Jas. Uncle Kar Jin had highlighted the plight of the residents in an UndiMsia group email and I was intrigued to find out more, so we went there this evening to have a look for ourselves.

For 15 years, the residents have complained that their flat building has been developing large cracks and they feared that the building’s base was uneven and sinking into the ground. These residents were originally estate workers and families. In 1999, these estate workers and their families were moved out of their estates into these then-new flats to make way for Putrajaya’s development. Two years later, the residents found large cracks in the flats!

We met Mr Kumaran who told us their story. They had complained to the authorities but not much was done. Now, nearly 15 years later, they are still living there. According to Kumaran, MIC had convinced them to move out of the estates into these flats as a temporary measure before they were moved into their own terrace houses. However, their promised houses never materialised.

When we arrived, I saw that there were large tents erected in the car park area. The tents was decorated with lots of posters asking for the authorities to provide the flats’ residents with terrace houses. In June, the residents moved out of the flats for fear that it would collapse. They have since lived in these tents and in a multipurpose hall nearby. According to Kumaran, IKRAM and JKR had inspected the flats and have given verbal assurance that they are safe to live in. The residents have asked for written assurance but none was forthcoming. This is their third time petitioning the authorities to help them. In 2009, after the 12th General Elections, they went to the city council to protest and bring their problems to the attention of the new Pakatan Rakyat government who had just taken over Selangor.

From what I understand, the flats were built by the federal government and not the state government. The residents have been petitioning the Prime Minister but his department has been silent. Now they are petitioning the Selangor government.

We met some of the residents who took us to see the cracks and the problems of the building.

The tents were erected in the flat's car park area | Photo by Pepper Lim
The tent is decorated with posters and banners highlighting the residents' plight and demands | Photo by Pepper Lim
A banner stating their demands | Photo by Pepper Lim
You can see the building on the right is much lower than the cement pavement we were standing on | Photo by Pepper Lim
This motorcycle ramp has been raised three times because of the sinking building | Photo by Pepper Lim
There is water flowing under the building, eroding the soil underneath | Photo by Pepper Lim
These metal pillars were installed to help strengthen the building | Photo by Pepper Lim
A signboard announcing the repairs done for the flats, completed before the 13th General Elections | Photo by Pepper Lim

Kuraman said the government spent RM2.5 million to repair the flat buildings, but he says it was more cosmetic than anything. Furthermore he believes the repairs were not worth the humongous cost.

To illustrate his point, he said the government built a multipurpose hall for them. Two months after it was completed, RM90,000 was spent to repair the hall. Then, after a year, the hall was demolished!

Cracks and chipped cement exposed metal rods inside | Photo by Pepper Lim

The rods inside the cement work together, giving strength to the building structure.  Once the rods are exposed to the elements, they rust and weaken. We saw this over and over again everywhere in the flats, at the motorcycle parking area, inside the homes of the residents, their bedrooms, their toilets, their balconies, in the corridors and on the façade outside the building.

See the mist? It is water spraying out of a leaking pipe | Photo by Pepper Lim

Drainage was also a problem highlighted by the residents. The old septic tank had overflowed and smelled badly. The residents believe the underground septic tank broke due to the shifting of the ground. A new septic tank was built to replace the old one but it is also not working as well as the residents would like.

Moreover, the area floods during heavy rains. The residents believe the floods soften the soil causing the building to sink even more.

The drainage is so bad, the residents make their own drains. The drain water is simply allowed to flow out of their flats into the yard below | Photo by Pepper Lim
These cracks are in one of the residents' living room | Photo by Pepper Lim
The crack is so bad in this resident's bedroom, rain water seeps in through it and floods his home. The crack is to the right of the light | Photo by Pepper Lim
Another gaping hole in what looks like a supporting beam | Photo by Pepper Lim
There is a Petronas gas pipeline next to the flats | Photo by Pepper Lim

Kumaran told us of a time a Berita Harian reporter came to see the flats for himself. He told the residents that they should move back into the flats since IKRAM and JKR have certified it as safe. He told the reporter, “Tak payah cakap banyak, you naik tengok sendiri.” (Come up and see for yourself.)

The reporter was taken up to one of the homes. The resident there demonstrated a wall that had come loose. He shook the wall with his hand. Seeing the wall moving back and forth, the shocked reporter ran out of the flats and stood in the car park. He could not be coaxed into viewing another flat!

Kumaran told us that NTV7 had featured their plight in their 5.30 pm mandarin news. As far as I know, none of the mainstream news agencies have highlighted their story except the Tamil and Chinese newspapers.

Anyone who believes the flats are safe for living is welcome to try living there for a month.

Dear Paprika, the Taman Permata Dengkil flats are low-cost flats providing housing low income residents. Still, they deserve to have iveable and comfortable homes. From what I saw, the flats were far from liveable.

We were told that the local ADUN knows their plight. Parti Sosialis Malaysia and other political parties have come to show their support. Yet, the terrace houses they were promised many years ago seem like a distant dream while these temporary flats seem to have turned into their permanent homes.

Your loving father,


PS. When we left, the residents had gathered in the tent to watch a Bollywood movie. I heard they cooked dinner for those living in the tents.


Pepper is the father of two adorable children named Paprika Lim and Saffron Lim. "Dear Paprika" is a series of letters written for posterity. When Paprika is 20 years old, he will be 61. He prefers to...

4 replies on “Dear Paprika: The Plight of Dengkil Flats Residents”

  1. Isn't anyone from Lembaga Arkitek Malaysia or Pertubuhan Arkitek Malaysia saying anything? Too busy entertaining rich paymasters? Who are the architects and Engineers legally responsible for this housing? Have anyone tried addressing the complaints to these building professionals rather than just relying on politician's patronage?

    We need to devise an alternative procurement route to empower communities in maintaining their own homes, rather than relentlessly depending on beraucratic and political machineries. At the moment our public construction procurement route is too time & resource-consuming for small jobs & enterprises, which is part of the reason why maintainance has not become our culture. If Argentina managed to come up with 'fideicomiso', how about us? Building professionals, as experts in this field, should take this as an imminent challenge, rather than being enslaved under an age old procedure that puts the middle men (government & developers) at the top of the food chain, and the users, bottom.

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