Translated by DOMINIC LOH
Sin Chew Daily
SEREMBAN -- Residents of Hakka Village in Mantin, Negeri Sembilan, have been exhausting all sorts of avenues to seek compensation for surrendering their lands, and are now bringing their case to the PM's department in Putrajaya. This shows the fearlessness and unyielding spirit of the Hakkas.
Unfortunately, the local Chinese community does not seem to be so keen on preserving the Hakka Village that has been in existence for at least a hundred years.
The Hakka residents have been living there for several generations now, and in the end, the best that could happen to them is some monetary compensation, and then see their ancestral land fall into the hands of greedy developers.
Feelings of the villagers
With the land titles and proceedings all properly sorted out and drawings approved by the local authorities, it is reasonable enough that the developers have every right to start their machines rolling, especially with compensation already handed out to the affected residents.
However, a more sensible way of doing things is to spare some thought for the feelings of villagers who have been calling this place their home for three or even four generations.
As a matter of fact, more than half of all the original Hakka residents here have moved elsewhere, and the vacated residences are now rented out to Indians. That said, many old Hakkas still insist to stay put and lead a simplistic life.
There is a Chinese primary school here, along with a temple, making the village a self sustained community complete with educational and religious facilities.
Although no one can tell for sure how the Hakka Village came about, since a piece of land just behind the village used to belong to a British tin mining company, it is therefore generally believed that the village began to take its form only after the tin mining activities started here.
From the oral history provided by local residents, the Hakka Village could have been established sometime in the 1860s or 1870s.
Most of the Hakkas in Mantin have their ancestral homes in Huizhou, China, and the village started to come into existence during the turbulent years of civil war in Negeri Sembilan a century and a half ago.
To understand the architectural styles of old Chinese residences, the Hakka Village in Mantin serves a prefect reference. Above the front door of almost every household there would be a wooden plaque that clearly identifies the family name of its inhabitants, a feature that has almost vanished from most other residential houses.
Even up to this day there is still a well in many an old house here, from where the residents can draw the water for their daily use. Entering the squarish reception hall, the rooms flanking the hall on both sides are very typical traditional residences.
It is believed that the Hakka Village in Mantin used to have the earliest voluntary fire-fighting corps in the whole of Malaya, probably because of the close proximity of houses separated by narrow alleys, making the settlement highly vulnerable in the event of fire.