Categorised | Columns

Been arrested yet?

Policeman figurine arresting another into stairway of fame
Arrests starting to become badge of honour amongst
some (all pics ©Arte_Ram/

WEARING black, lighting a candle or simply putting up a tent is an offence that can get you arrested these days. The target of these arrests are Pakatan Rakyat (PR) politicians, lawyers, general workers and members of the public who simply want to make a statement.

While public outrage has been expressed time and again, few express surprise at the dubious actions or judgments that have occurred. Arrests are becoming so commonplace that getting arrested, it seems, is a badge of honour among some of my political colleagues. The perception seems to have spread to the public too, as I have friends who ask me when I am going to get arrested.

I understand the need to stand firm on one’s beliefs, but this cannot be done at the expense of other things that are equally, if not more, important.

Work, work, work

Frankly, many of us don’t have time to get arrested, as there are a hundred and one things that need to be fixed within government.

One figurine handing over an object to another
Customers go to councillors for help

Where do I start?

Work that requires the input of several departments can’t be coordinated online and is exceptionally slow. Customers cannot even get a proper update on the status of their application with the local council and invariably go to councillors to seek help.

Complaints from the public, about broken drains and licenses, come to the councillors because complaining officially does not work. The excuse that there aren’t enough personnel is sometimes given, but there are more than 1,700 workers employed by the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ).

I believe councillors should be given the power to sack an officer for each complaint that comes to them, but sadly, I am not thus empowered. Government officers are protected by a litany of bureaucracy. At best, they will get a black mark on their record.

Additionally, while trying to resolve issues during meetings, the council will come across matters that cannot be resolved at a single sitting because there are no policies governing it or because it is a financial burden. Such issues require further deliberation at sub-committee meetings where we look at the legal aspects and the impact the council’s decision will have on the community. I am part of three main committees and six sub-committees.

The abovementioned issues are just a small segment of the nonsense that goes on within the council. I can only surmise that the scenario is no different in other government departments.

As it is, I am attending meetings at the MBPJ two to three times a week in an official capacity to resolve issues. The public make their demand on a councillor’s time even after office hours or on weekends because that is the time when they are free to meet (the complainants have their day jobs, too).


Two thin figurines in kung fu poses
The problem with DAP is their fighting spirit?
“The problem with the DAP is that they have the fighting spirit, which was good when they needed to stand up for the rights of others. Now that they are in the government, they are still fighting. That is not good,” an architect friend says.

My point in highlighting this perception is to show that people are still calling PR the opposition, even though PR is ruling in four states.

Governance means management, responsibility and accountability. These are things that the public take for granted that the government of the day will resolve, because the politicians asked for the job and the public gave it to them.

I believe PR sometimes forgets that the sword cuts both ways. If PR cannot perform despite being given the mandate, public protests against the BN now may eventually be directed at the PR. Favicon

KW Mak is a DAP-appointed councillor in MBPJ. He supports the 1BLACKMalaysia campaign and the people’s right to express dissatisfaction, even against the Pakatan Rakyat government.

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6 Responses to “Been arrested yet?”

  1. Vikraman says:

    Dear Mr Mak,

    I frequently go to PJ for personal and business purposes. Of late, I have noticed that the roadside rubbish collection and general street cleanliness in Sections 5 and 6 has deteriorated. I am not a Selangor resident and hence am unable to use the STARS complaints system. Hence, I have resorted to leaving this comment for your attention and action.

    Thank you for your time.

  2. kahseng says:

    1. Indeed getting remanded in [the] lock-up has become a rite of passage for reformists and activists, and a badge of honour, much like bankruptcy had become a badge of honour for Silicon Valley innovators.

    2. Getting imprisoned [for] personal liberty is as death is to life. Once faced directly, the person transforms and overcomes certain irrational fear.

    This is not to deny the personal cost to Mr Mak and the opportunity cost of using the time to do better things.

    3. Getting locked up has toughened many.

    4. “Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison” is a quote in Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau …

    5. It seems as long as Najib perpetuates a police state, civil disobedience will only grow as a movement.

  3. thiarnkwarnmark says:

    Dear Mr Mak,

    You are a good, sincere, hardworking and compassionate gentleman! Please keep up the good work, but please do not neglect your health! A healthy and strong, well-balanced mind with faith and confidence will without any shadow of doubt see you through in your “fight and struggle” for justice and the well-being of the state and the nation! Cheers.

  4. KW Mak says:

    @ Vikraman,

    The deterioration of services provided by Alam Flora presently experienced in Petaling Jaya is due to issues involving the renewal of contracts for the sub-contractors.

    At this moment, MBPJ is providing backup services by sending our own sub-contractors to remove uncollected rubbish. Please provide the exact locations where the rubbish is uncollected and the council will respond accordingly.

    There is also no need to use the STARS complaints system. All councils have a hotline for complaints. The number for MBPJ’s hotline is 03-7954 2020. Do leave your details and remember to obtain a file complaint number.

    If MBPJ does not act on your complaint, please take note of the officer’s name, date and time and forward a formal complaint to me. You can reach my office at 03-7960 7505.


  5. KW Mak says:

    @ kahseng

    I have walked at the Bersih rally and stood vigil for friends who were arrested on the night of the Bersih rally anniversary. I will stand up and be counted when the need arises, so please don’t take the message of the article as me telling people not to protest.

    I’m saying that the people have placed Pakatan Rakyat in a position of responsibility and that responsibility should not be neglected.

    Many people like to look at the bigger picture, where civil liberties and other issues that are championed are talked about as a matter of principle, yet few people bother to sit down and look at the details that ought to be implemented.

    PR promised a transparent government during the 2008 elections. To provide that, the system must be reformed, which in turn requires a lot of work. Such work would be neglected if PR reps keep getting themselves arrested.

  6. BES says:

    Yes, now everyone should obey the law and have parties at home. Invite your friends and neighbours and talk about our political issues and problems. Imagine it being done all over the country.

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