Serving the community: Caring Old Folks Home has been operating in Taman Muhibbah, Kajang, for the past nine years.
The Kajang Municipal Council (MPKj) has been urged to reconsider its order imposed on an old folks home in Taman Muhibbah to vacate its premises before the end of December.
The Caring Old Folks Home has been in the neighbourhood for nine years. It currently shelters 28 residents, including six with minor depression and mental development problems.
In May, the home received a letter from MPKj stating that its application to renew the permit to operate in a residential unit had been rejected and they must leave by year end, based on complaints that they were “very noisy”.
The home’s founder, Wendy Yap attended a hearing as instructed but none of the complainants turned up.
Yap then filed an appeal, which came with support letters from Hulu Langat MP Dr Che Rosli Che Mat, Bangi state coordinator Datuk Mohd Fathil Daud, Semenyih assemblyman Datuk Johan Aziz and Kajang assemblyman Lee Kim Sin, who said Caring Old Folks Home was a trustworthy and responsible charity.
She also consulted the neighbours to check if their presence had inconvenienced them.
Nine neighbours had given their support to the home, saying that they were happy that the home was benefitting the society. They included the immediate neighbours to their right and back.
It was learned that only two families objected.
In June, MPKj sent another letter stating that they had approved their renewal application with condition. Still, they must move out by Dec 31.
“I could not help but cry in front of the MPKj officers during the hearing. We only wanted to work with the government to help the unfortunate ones in our society, but why have we come under attack trying to do good?” said Yap.
Show of support: Yap showing nine signatures from her immediate neighbours, as well as four support letters from politicians. Having submitted all that, MPKj is still adamant on its order to evict the home.
She said one of the families who complained, even hurled three rocks onto the home’s front awning in June, in addition to scolding the social workers and mentally challenged residents whenever they saw them.
“The most hurtful accusation was that we cheated the residents’ money,” Yap said.
Worried for the residents’ safety, she lodged a police report. However, the police told Yap that they could not do much because no one was hurt in the incident.
“I do not understand why these two neighbours from the opposite row find us noisy while our immediate neighbours feel it is alright.
“The elderly residents are frightened and the two girls scolded by the individuals are so terrified that they hide inside the house whenever the neighbours come near.
“We have planted thick shrubs in hopes of blocking the view and reducing the noise. I also apologised to the neighbours on behalf of my mentally challenged residents who might be rather loud at times,” she added.
Caring Old Folks Home is widely recognised in Hulu Langat as charitable operators who put their hearts into helping the needy.
Hospitals send their patients there when there is a lack of bed; the welfare department refers abandoned senior citizens to the home.
“We put our heart and soul into charity but we face threats and eviction. We clean up the bodily waste for the aged but we have to live in fear,” she said.
Yap has been a social worker for 22 years. She received a Best Social Worker award in 2001 and the F&N Outdo Yourself Award in 2009.
“I have never asked for anything in return. I do social work because I want to help people and it makes me happy.
“But these days, I cannot eat and sleep much. I have visited MPKj on numerous occasions but was always rejected at the enquiry counter, where officers told me my appeal had been rejected and they did not want to talk to me.
“The fate of welfare homes is at the discretion of the local council.
“If they want us to close, we have to close, despite the fact that the Welfare and Health departments have been appreciative of our work.
“Even if they want to shut us down, they should at least verify the accusations by sending officers to observe for one or two days how we operate.
“Instead of doing that, they sent officers on two occasions to evict us in September even though the deadline is Dec 31,” Yap said.
MPKj sent another letter on Nov 19 repeating that Yap’s appeal had been rejected.
Yap said she doubt she could find another rental-free property to run the home.
“We do not know where to go, we do not have the money to move. Who can help us?” she asked.
StarMetro spoke to the complainants, who declined to be named.
“We are disturbed by the noise made by the two girls with mental problems. We are old too, we cannot stand that noise,” said the complainant in her late 60s.
She denied having said that the home had abused funds.
She said the noise level had been reduced since the rock-throwing incident.
When asked if she still wanted the home to leave, she said, “I do not care whether they stay or leave, as long as they do not make noise, I am fine.”
The other complainant had refused to speak to the press.
His daughter only explained that there was a lot of noise from the home, adding that she did not know much and her brother who lodged the complaint was not in town.
MPKj councillor P. Narayanan, who was in charge of the area, said he was aware of the eviction order on Caring Old Folks Home but did not know about the appeal and petition.
In an email, MPKj planning officer Sazelina Ismail said the home’s application to renew use of two residential units for a welfare home was rejected in the hearing objection committee meeting on April 3.
The reasons provided were that the land was for residential use and that there were written objections from nearby residents.