AS a councillor, I often face difficult, even dangerous, situations even though facing such situations should not be part of the job scope. There are no morals here, save those that readers choose to interpret for themselves.
It was the night when the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) was supposed to tear down an illegal billboard on Jalan SS2/2. The press were told to assemble at the site at 8pm to witness the event.
I arrived on time, only to be greeted by a scene where some 30 thuggish-looking men were surrounding PJ resident Liew Wei Beng, who was there in his capacity as the All Petaling Jaya Residents Association Coalition (Apac) chairperson. The men repeatedly asked Liew what his business was at the site. Journalists present were left alone.
Liew (left) being confronted by one of the thugs (Pics courtesy of KW Mak)
About 10 MBPJ officers were standing some distance away, hesitant to approach the site. A crane truck arrived several minutes later, but left after five minutes when the driver found himself surrounded by the thugs who had earlier surrounded Liew.
Alarmed by the situation, I called several political leaders and told them to get people to gather at the site. The MBPJ officers present also called for backup enforcement officers, while Liew made calls to the police.
While all this was happening, I took photographs in the event that things got out of hand and we needed to identify the persons at the site.
The standoff lasted more than 90 minutes, but the council eventually tore down the billboard with support from a police squad car, special branch officers, MBPJ councillors, MBPJ enforcement officers, and PJ residents.
Damansara Utama assemblyperson Dr Cheah Wing Yin, who also witnessed the face-off between the council and the thugs, later told me that he would have gladly taken on the thugs one-on-one if it had come to a fist fight.
“Doc, I prefer three-to-one odds, with three on my side,” I said. We had a good laugh.
Demolition of the billboard begins
I was driving my then girlfriend home late one night when the phone rang. Having spent the night on a date, I was in a jovial mood when I answered the call.
On the line was another friend who told me he just got a request for my home address and car registration number from an acquaintance.
“He says he wants to kill you,” said my friend. “He is very angry because MBPJ officers came to his restaurant and took away all his tables and chairs, and he thinks that it was you who gave the order.”
Although angry at the threat, I was also confused, as I had not made any such order. My friend assured me that he did not give out the information but wanted to alert me about the situation.
It wasn’t until much later that I discovered that it was a fellow councillor who had ordered the raid because the restaurant had placed tables and chairs on the road and obstructed traffic. The restaurant owner was also a property developer whom I had told off during a council meeting for non-compliance with the council’s decision.
Having noticed the change in my demeanour, and having heard snippets of the conversation on the phone, my ex-girlfriend asked me to consider quitting my post as a councillor.
We did not talk much for the remainder of the journey.
MBPJ councillor KW Mak had to make a choice between his personal life and taking the oath to serve in the council for a second term. It was a difficult choice to make.
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