Many fishermen in Kedah say they will be supporting the opposition for the upcoming polls. (Photo: Fadza Ishak)
TANJUNG DAWAI, Kedah: In the coastal fishing village of Tanjung Dawai, only the flags of Malaysia’s ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition line the rows of some 300 terrace houses.
The new community is part of a fishermen housing resettlement project by the government, with 200 families moving into the estate in the last two months.
Each family pays a RM150 (US$38) monthly rent for thirty years to reside in one of the units, which is worth RM59,000 each.
It is a marked shift for many of them who previously lived in overcrowded wooden houses. Their new homes come with individual gardens as well as shared facilities such as two main jetties, playgrounds, futsal courts, a kindergarten and a community centre.
Only BN flags were displayed around the entire housing estate. (Photo: Amir Yusof)
But beyond the veneer of shiny new infrastructure, there is growing resentment in the community.
One fisherman, who is a member of the Kedah Fishermen Association (NEKAD), told Channel NewsAsia that his family was “cheated of a home” when they were given the keys to their terrace unit.
“At first we were told that we would be given a place to stay in for free. But it was only later that we were told that we’d have to pay RM150 a month,” said the 30-year-old man who declined to be named.
The fisherman who moved into Tanjung Dawai two weeks ago with this wife and two young children previously lived in a wooden house on stilts with 15 other extended family members.
He said the privacy he and his family now enjoy was a bonus, but he is struggling to make the RM150 monthly rent.
“Fuel costs have gone up, but our petrol subsidies are the same. I barely make enough to pay for food and my children's school fees," he said. "And now I have to constantly set aside some cash for rent, which was never part of the deal."
His fishing partner, a 28-year-old man who also declined to be named, told Channel NewsAsia that BN would not earn the support of fishermen in Tanjung Dawai.