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.
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 / sxc.hu)
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.
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 / sxc.hu) 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.
Read previous Ampersand columns
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