By: Intan Baha
THERE is a little village in Ipoh that no one really knows about as it has only two families and is engulfed by surrounding development and modern houses.
Kampung Gunung Mat Surat as it is called lies three kilometres from the busy Jalan Kuala Kangsar road and famous Gunung Lang Recreational Park and has just nine inhabitants.
An elderly among them is Sayuti Ramli, 82, who said he and his neighbour are still adamant about continuing to live there on as he feels that they need to protect the land inherited from their ancestors.
He said Kampung Gunung Mat Surat was opened in 1901 by a group of families from Jawa who came to Malaya as rubber tappers. As the settlement is shaded by Mat Surat hill, hence the settlers named their village after it.
“Those days this settlement was full with rubber trees and my great grandfather was tapping rubber here,” said Sayuti who lives with his wife 78-year-old Minah Boyeman. Also staying with them are their eighth child, Sujip, 42, his wife Nor Aziah Abd Manaf, 35 and their three children.
The couple said 13 other children have since left the house one by one after they got married. They now live around Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur and return to visit their parents during festive seasons.
Sayuti said he remembered the time when the kampung was full of life but the population slowly dwindling from its 11 families in the last 25 years ago.
“One of the reasons for leaving is lack of basic amenities such as water, electricity, proper irrigation as well as paved road,” said the former government servant.
Sayuti said electricity supply was only installed in 1986 while the village got its clean water in 2014. He said many of his neighbours had moved out to live in nearby area in Manjoi where basic amenities were accessible.
Due to the migration, he said, many houses were left empty and acres of land unkempt. He also expressed disappointment that many of his requests for better facilities are not being attended.
“We applied to the Ipoh City Council for proper signboard bearing Kampung Gunung Mat Surat by the roadside, a few street lamps and lamp posts as well as paved road for about 800 metres from the main road to the kampung,” he said, adding that he isn’t sure if their applications were given priority because there are only two households in the village.
“If this is the reason, I feel this is unfair because we too diligently paid our assessment to the council,” he said.
Sayuti said the village also faced illegal dumping issue as domestic rubbish, old furniture and construction debris were dumped along the roadside by irresponsible people for more than a year.
He said the council would come to clear the illegal dumpsite after he reported the matter but the dumpsite would surface not long after that.
“We also need rubbish collection service. As for now, we dispose our rubbish by burying or burning them in the backyard. We know this is very unhygienic but we don’t have any choice,” he said.
While producing his payment proof for this year, he said as far as he could remember, his late father had started paying assessment tax since 1960.
On sewage system, Sayuti said he took his own initiative to turn an old well located about 100 metres to the back of his house into sewage tank to manage the toilet waste.
“Although it has never been maintained, none of my family members fell sick that could be caused by it,” Sayuti said, adding that he would pay the private sewer service if they could easily find his home, to clean the tank.
Another villager, Mohd Jamil Yusof, 70, said the village shares the same village head in Kampung Kepayang, however their problems were overlooked as the village head only paid them a visit in 2016 and did not offer any solutions.
The former government servant claimed that he received a few offers to sell his 3.5-acre of land but declined their offers as he felt he need to hold on to the promise by his late father not to sell the land.
“I am in the process to change the land’s name to my son’s name as he also decided to return and build a house here,” he added.
Mohd Jamil said the two families used to be connected by an inner road before, but after the double-track rail project completed in 2008, they were separated.
“I think as a village head, he should have proposed to build an overhead bridge or a tunnel for our convenience. Now we only have one access road to and fro our village.
“I met the former mayor, Datuk Roshidi Hashim, to voice my grouses a few times in early 2011 to request for lamp and lamp post and paved road to our village. He said the cost to provide the facilities are higher than the total amount of tax we paid to the council,” he said sadly.
Mohd Jamil claimed that after one of his last meetings with Roshidi, several Ipoh City Council staff followed him back to check on his report and the condition of the road.
“However, there was no action taken from the council and I was told that there are no new update on his application every time I call them for follow-ups,” he said.