Categorised | Columns

Tales from a Councillor: Anonymous complaints

THERE are times when people request and demand that I stand up for their rights. But they are reluctant to make the request official, preferring instead to remain anonymous.

As always, there are no morals to these stories, save those that readers conclude for themselves.

Neighbour’s renovations

A lady called up and demanded that I do something about her neighbour. “He is renovating his house to have 15 rooms! What if his house catches fire? He even told me that he applied to the MBPJ (Petaling Jaya City Council) to renovate his house to legally have eight rooms. But he is going ahead to make 15 rooms instead.”

I assured the lady that I would instruct MBPJ officers to inspect the neighbour’s house and get the matter sorted out. “Don’t reveal my identity, okay?” the lady said several times. “I don’t want my neighbour to find out that I’m the one who complained.”

(Pic by khaane / 

The lady had called on a Thursday evening. Being rather busy myself, I only got around to writing an official letter to the relevant department on Monday morning. Around noon that day, the lady called me again.

“What is your officer doing? I saw him coming around in his car, but he isn’t even getting out to do an inspection! You better tell him to do his job!”

Irritated, I told her that I would follow up on the case, and ended the conversation. Not satisfied, the lady continued to call several times later that day, and on Tuesday and Wednesday. I refused to take her calls.

Unhappy with me for not answering, the lady proceeded to file a complaint with a Pakatan Rakyat political bureau. She also threatened to go to the media to expose my unprofessional attitude and the local council’s ineptitude.

By Thursday, the MBPJ inspection officer confirmed that there was an illegal attempt to build more rooms than the local council had approved. A stop-work order was issued to the neighbour to rectify the renovations.

When my assistant informed the lady about this development, she immediately reminded my assistant that her identity should not be compromised.

Hawker’s licence

The street hawker waited patiently at her stall, sitting down at my table only when I finished my dinner. Tepidly, she asked if I could get her a hawker licence from the local council.

Puzzled, I said she was already operating one. “I don’t own this licence. I rent it for RM400 a month. It is really expensive, so I hope MBPJ can give me a licence for a stall somewhere else.”

(Pic by lioneltitu /
I told the hawker that licences could not be leased out, and that the licence fees should not be more than RM400 a year. I would help her obtain the licence that was being leased to her if she filed a complaint with me.

“Aiyah, that is not nice. I don’t want to break someone’s rice bowl,” she said, adding that many hawkers along the street were leasing their licences, too.

I then told the hawker that she would be in for a long wait for a hawker licence as there were many people on the waiting list. She said she didn’t mind. She is still waiting for her licence today, more than a year since we had the conversation.

MBPJ councillor KW Mak would like to inform the public that they can complain to the local council if their neighbours are renting out their house to too many people. The Local Government Act states there should be 250sq ft for every person living in a house to ensure sanitary conditions. Condominium management should also take note of this rule. The majority of complaints about overcrowding come from high-rise properties.

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9 Responses to “Tales from a Councillor: Anonymous complaints”

  1. Azizi Khan says:

    I can relate to these stories quite well. Being Malaysian we are all used to the “mamak stall crusader”. You know these people, who had someone’s uncle’s daughter’s third aunty’s grandfather who knew someone who did something…So they are the experts in giving their opinion on economics, security, politics.

    I remember so many times I was persuaded by well meaning and responsible people that I should stay in Malaysia because “it’s better to be a second class citizen in your own country than a first class citizen elsewhere”. This is their logic to be content in the rut that they live in. After all these years, many of them are still in their same spot, the same mamak stall, same jobs (unless hit by VSS or retrenchment)…

    I think Malaysia is the only country in the world where the general public knows every dirty little secret of the ruling elite and it’s discussed feverishly and passionately at the mamak stall. But Malaysians are proud Nato card carrying members – the No Action Talk Only kind…

    The reason for this is – all average Malaysians regardless of race, religion and cultural heritage believe in one thing very strongly. We don’t disturb another person’s rice bowl. Even if it’s illegal, morally wrong. So long as our rice bowl is protected and assured.

    This is the reason why the BN coalition has enjoyed such a long and prosperous comfortable looting, plundering and pillaging of the nation. So long as the average Malaysian thinks that they will continue to be fed, roofed and clothed comfortably – they continue to support every ridiculous and mentally-challenged ideas of BN politicians. Until now.

    Why now? Well, the average Malaysian is finding themselves hit where it hurts most. Their rice bowl. The size of the rice bowl has become smaller – even the scraps and bones are tiny and no meat is in sight. While every minister’s relative is sporting new cars and mansions from sub contracts – the average Malaysian is the orphan Oliver. Finally, the average Malaysian is waking up to the kopi tarik that he/she, the citizen has been royally buggered for years. It’s about time anyway!

  2. siew eng says:

    KOMAS came up with a series of videos on how some council staff do their job. Maybe we also need clips on vexatious tax payers who harass local councillors over something that they themselves can do easily as allowed by the law.

  3. MIkazuki says:

    Harassing the Local Councillor over a matter that can be solved using the proper channel is not helping the case, especially when you’re not willing to come forward yourself.

    But I bet most people have the same mentality as this lady and prefer to be anonymous in filing whatever complaints they have as they are scared of retribution, especially if it involves the neighbours.

    Actually I’ve even known some people who would rather suffer in silence than to report their neighbours’ atrocity to the relevant authority for fear of a bad spat between them.

    A point to ponder.

  4. Andrew I says:

    There’s a program on Astro’s Granada TV called Neighbours from Hell. Our recent Coconut Wars could provide some fodder for the producers, should they decide on some foreign content.

    Sometimes, it is necessary to go down to the level of consideration displayed by some people simply so they can understand. Even more so if you’re not living next door to Alice.

    I agree. There are limits to the job scope of a councillor.

  5. Cadraver says:

    The lady who called to report on her neighbour probably thought she was doing a service, although she probably wasn’t aware that requests to the council aren’t like calls to Domino’s Pizza.

    She probably even thought that you may have been ignoring her completely, like how most of us have experienced with governmental organizations in the past. Annoyingly consistent and a little contradictory (threatening to go to press) nevertheless.

  6. spanker says:

    That’s your typical m’sian mentality. They WANT to rock the boat, but they don’t want to be the one to fall off.

  7. bistik says:

    Yeah… Weird mentality doesn’t help… The fact that our cops and our judiciary are perceived as being corrupt and ineffective doesn’t help matters. Just pay off the relevant people long enough for you to take vengeance on the neighbour that dared to report you in…..

  8. Hwa Shi-Hsia says:

    Why is it okay for people to obtain a licence for less than RM400 per annum and then lease it out for more than 12 times that? Doesn’t MBPJ actually check on hawkers to make sure the right person is operating the stall?

  9. KW Mak says:

    @ Hwa Shi-Hsia

    To answer your question on why MBPJ does not conduct checks, it is because this practice of leasing out hawker license isn’t limited to street hawkers, but also those operating within kopitiams. Conducting a check on every single stall is a massive exercise.

    Without a formal complaint, MBPJ will just have to assume that things are okay. Meanwhile, MBPJ is presently trying to clean up the southern parts of Petaling Jaya where there are many illegal hawkers and pasar malam traders, whereas the stall that I am referring to is somewhere in the central part of PJ.

    As to why I didn’t file a complaint on behalf of the lady, it is because I have no wish of getting the lady in trouble, because MBPJ treats both parties [as] equally guilty. Unless the lady was willing to come forward to complain, MBPJ would be slapping both with a fine and taking away the license.


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