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Security woes

Snatch theft
(© L Joo / Wiki Commons)

PETALING JAYA (PJ) and other townships have been facing an issue involving the emergence of gated communities in recent years, with many differing views on whether this should be allowed or not.

Arguing for the need for gated communities is the rising crime rate that is gripping our cities, with increasing news reports of serious injuries resulting from snatch-thefts and burglaries.

Crime is something the police needs to tackle, but with the rising number of cases and the inability of the police to cope with the problem, the public have taken matters into their own hands. Residential communities have erected illegal barricades and placed large drums and other heavy obstacles on roads to create artificial barriers and allow for easier monitoring of access to their housing areas.

The Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) has had lengthy discussions on this matter. The elected representatives are mostly in favour of allowing the gates to exist, primarily due to the security concerns that are not adequately addressed by the police.

While it is politically convenient to sanction these barricades and boom gates, the law specifically disallows the blocking of roads except under very specific circumstances. Some examples of permissible temporary road blocks are those set up by the police and blocks erected during the operation hours of a gazetted marketplace or the celebration of a religious festival.

Cause and effect

While such gated residential areas help to address the local security needs, there are problems that most communities do not consider.

These issues include the rights of individual house owners who don’t want to pay the security fee and whose access to their own houses has thus been made difficult by the hired security guards. Another problem is the difficulty faced by local council service providers in carrying out their duties, such as trimming the trees, replacing faulty street lights or paving the roads, because access to the area is denied or made difficult.

On the issue of facing difficult access to one’s own home, the argument that the complaint is filed by a minority of the residents doesn’t hold water. A person’s right to access his/her own home takes precedence, regardless of any rules that the rest of the residents come up with to limit access to those who do not pay security service charges.

Simply put, we are solving one problem by creating other problems when we allow this kind of gated communities.

Changing the law

There are also advocates who want the laws changed to enable such gated communities to exist legally. After all, there are in existence legal gated communities like Aman Suria in Kelana Jaya, Selangor.

However, the argument does not take into account the fact that the entire compound of a planned gated community is considered private property. The owners who purchase houses in a planned gated community do so knowing they are contractually required to pay maintenance fee to the property management, much like how stratified properties operate.

Guard hired by residents to help boost security on their street

To implement something along these lines now on an existing non-planned gated community would be a nightmare exercise. Legislators would have to work out a comprehensive plan to address the issues I raised earlier and the issue of standardising the intersecting laws with regards to public utilities, land ownership and gazetted town plans.

Police duty

As I said earlier, the laws governing the closure of roads are not the problem and changing national laws to deal with an urban problem can have even bigger implications.

The only real way to resolve all these complications is for the police to provide better service in maintaining security. When security is maintained, all the issues arising from illegally built barricades will disappear as these structures would no longer be needed.

To support this solution, MBPJ has allocated RM5 million in next year’s budget to hire and equip an auxiliary police force that would help patrol the streets of PJ as well as help with traffic control duties. Whether or not MBPJ will go ahead with the idea depends entirely on the Ministry of Home Affairs giving the green light. favicon

MBPJ councillor KW Mak feels that the one element that is missing in most government agencies today is management, without which the promises from politicians from all sides of the divide would continue to come across to the public as mere rhetoric.

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6 Responses to “Security woes”

  1. SY says:

    Isn’t it the main role of the government to provide security and stability to all its citizens? No point talking about gated communities when the most rudimentary need is not even met!

  2. khenghoe says:

    The author is over-simplifying the law, and the position on guarded communities. Houseowners who do not pay security fees are nevertheless granted access to their homes, and with no more inconvenience than paying houseowners. That is the reality in the unplanned guarded communities. Local council service providers have never been denied access – who else would remove the garbage or undertake landscaping?

    It is also not true that the entire compound of gated communities are private property. That is not the case in many so-called gated communities today. It just so happened that the breach of the law (concerning blockading public roads) happened at the onset when the developer undertook the sale, instead of being developed later.

    The author would do well to study the many different so-called guarded communities before sweeping with his broad broom. As for the author espousing an ideal scenario where the police would be adequate and effective, the author should bear in mind that the opposition has been spouting ideals for a long time, but until March 8th have never been entrusted to govern despite its lofty ideals (except briefly in Penang and continuously in Kelantan).

    At the end of the day, your constituents want something that works, and isn’t that the best form of democracy, namely democracy developed from the grassroots by houseowners seeking to secure their own community, not superimposed by the authorities?

  3. oster says:

    As ever, the problem is devolution of powers.

    Local issues having to be solved by changing Federal laws means that there is a highly inefficient distribution of powers.

    Devolving more power to local and state authorties (while allowing local elections) will alleviate much of these kinds of problems.

  4. Alibabamahahtir says:

    Ask Polis DiRaja Malaysia to protect you?

    Yesterday I purposely took out my seat belt in full view of a polis and he asked me for bribe. I paid RM10.

    How to depend on the police to protect when they are acting like gangsters asking for protection money.

    Corruption is still rampant. Police cannot protect us.

  5. megabigBLUR says:

    Private security companies are like private tuition teachers. Their popularity is a sign that the government is not doing its job in policing and education, respectively. Neighbourhoods that hire security guards are creating a fortress mentality, and since the guards have no power to arrest burglars and robbers, the criminals will just drift to less well-fortified areas. Do we want to get into an arms race with crooks or stamp them out properly?

    Thumbs up for MBPJ’s initiative to fix the situation, but the fact that they would require approval from a federal government ministry to fix a local policing situation reveals another weakness: that local governments have so little power to address their constituents’ needs.

  6. KW Mak says:

    @ khenghoe

    I believe you are speaking from your experience based on the residential area you stay in. Petaling Jaya is 97.2sq km, and while the problems may not be peculiar to your area, I can assure you that the MBPJ has encountered the problems that I wrote about, specifically in Kota Damansara areas.

    As to your statement about the area within gated communities need not be private property, perhaps you can enlighten me on the specific laws that you have read that allowed you to reach such a conclusion?

    As far as I am aware of, Schedule I of the Housing Development Act governs the formation of gated communities… and this particular Schedule treats the entire compound behind the gate as private property. Please read Section 18 of Schedule I to see where it says the residents must pay maintenance fees.

    Perhaps I did oversimplify the article, but it was merely to engage the reader on the issues without going into too much unnecessary legal jargon. I would be more than happy to revise my view of the matter if you can just point me to the law in question.


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