(Pic by cjung / sxc.hu) THE issue of whether barricades on residential roads should be allowed has been simmering for some time. By taking no action, the authorities seem to be encouraging the problem.
These barricades are illegal by law, and the residents who put up these barriers are cognizant of this. But these residents ask, “If we respect the law and take away the barriers, will the authorities ensure our safety?”
The Inspector General of Police (IGP) has already declared that the police do not have enough personnel to ensure the security of churches which have recently come under attack. How, then, would the police have enough resources to tackle neighbourhood security?
Management, not politics
This issue, like many others, is being politicised, although not to the same extent as the “Allah” controversy. But while arguments have gone back and forth on the topic of road barricades, not a single solution has been offered.
Really, it’s about management, not politics. Somewhere along the line, sufficient resources were not provided to the police force. Or the force itself failed to manage and allocate its resources efficiently.
But the public is not interested in the mechanics of how things work — only the results that are delivered. And when results are not delivered by the agency responsible, those affected are naturally compelled to come up with stop-gap measures of their own. Their solutions may be inadequate, even illegal; but what can one expect when safety and security are high on the list of citizens’ priorities?
MBPJ lacking, too
Mind you, the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) is not above management failings, either.
Councillors need to sift through stacks of documents and work on reports about issues within the local council. Research and preparation of reports are clearly not part of our “part-time” job as councillors. But some of us do it because if we are not educated about an issue, we might accept the advice of local council officers and proffer the wrong solutions to a problem — or worse, be ill informed so that the city council is unable to function effectively or efficiently.
(Pic by mzacha / sxc.hu) In one incident, a local councillor’s instruction to the council for action against an illegal construction was constantly thwarted by apparent legal impediments. It took a year before the debate on the legality of the prescribed council action was resolved. But even after the local council finally agreed that the councillor was right, the councillor was told to find a contractor herself. The councillor was told that none of the local council’s regular contractors were “willing to risk the job”.
As a result of the local council’s inaction over the developer’s non-adherence to a stop-work order, the building was completed. It remains standing today. No action has been taken thus far against this illegal structure.
Should the councillor have sourced for her own contractor in order to implement the law? Would that have resolved anything? The correct course of action would have been for the department director, who was in charge of implementing the council’s instructions, to be replaced. But such an action would require state government approval, which has been slow in coming.
In the meantime, issues on the ground remain unresolved. And as affected citizens grow restless and disillusioned about the rule of law, we can expect more instances where citizens start taking matters into their own hands.
MBPJ councillor KW Mak can’t help but feel that the majority of the country’s politicians are too embroiled in political debate to manage the government properly. Hence, the problems with illegal structures.
Read previous Ampersand columns