Categorised | Columns

Tales from a Councillor:
Chicken Rice Wars and The Thin Yellow Line

IN this exciting episode of Ampersand, I would like to share some of my experiences as a councillor. There are no morals behind these stories save the ones readers chose to draw for themselves.

Chicken rice

It was almost 11pm when I finally wrapped up a meeting with a group of residents one night. Having not had dinner yet, I proceeded to my favourite chicken rice stall while still wearing the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) uniform that councillors are given.

I am fond of this stall because the food is good and the uncle that serves the chicken rice is always jovial and friendly. The greeting I received this time, however, was different. I was still a good distance away when the uncle started shouting “sau lui” (Cantonese for collecting money).

                                             (Pic by Terence / Wiki commons)
The uncle looked at me with a mix of hate and disgust while continuing to shout “sau lui” to warn the other stall owners in the area that an MBPJ officer had arrived.

When I spoke in Cantonese for an order of chicken rice and a plate of bean sprouts, the uncle just stood there for a few seconds with a blank look on his face. The uncle then asked me if I worked with the MBPJ, to which I said, “Yes”. He then said something about how he could count the number of Chinese Malaysians working with the MBPJ with the fingers on one hand.

Of course, the stall owner was exaggerating. You can count the number of Chinese Malaysians working with the MBPJ with the fingers on two hands.

For some reason, the chicken rice didn’t taste that good that night.

Illegal parking

Once, an old man complained to me that he was wrongly fined by MBPJ officers for illegal parking and wanted me to help him cancel the fine. Naturally, I asked where it was that he received the fine.

“I got the ticket parking outside the EPF building on Jalan Gasing,” said the old man. He then proceeded to tell me how he should not have been fined because there were no yellow lines to denote that parking was prohibited in that area.

Despite explaining that parking in the area would result in traffic obstruction, the old man simply would not accept the explanation, and insisted that the fine be cancelled because there were no yellow lines on the road.

Finally, I gave the old man an analogy that I thought was acceptable. “Sir, just because there is no sign that says no littering in the area doesn’t mean that it is legal to litter wherever such signs are not present.”

The old man walked off cursing the DAP, adding that he would vote for the MCA in the next elections.

(NB: The yellow lines along Jalan Gasing have since been painted.)

DAP-appointed MBPJ councillor KW Mak once got a phone call at 2am from a resident who did not understand the simple request to call back in the morning. “You mean you don’t answer your phone anytime the public calls you?” was the resident’s response.

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6 Responses to “Tales from a Councillor:
Chicken Rice Wars and The Thin Yellow Line

  1. siew eng says:

    Please share more of such stories so that public expectation of local councillors is reasonable and appropriate.

    So sorry to hear of your spoilt dinner! Obviously, you understand where the uncle’s coming from. Hope you’ve talked with him and he’ll be nicer to you next time. Unfortunately, this not unjustified prasangka buruk is the result of years of rampant corruption on the part of the enforcement authorities, also fed by businesses who want to take the shortcut when dealing with them or those who may feel that the (deliberately?) badly designed and managed system leaves them no choice but to tango along.

    Enforcement authorities are a group that should get MACC’s attention – including the police – even if it’s ikan bilis stuff, because the endemic corruption has created such cynicism about how the government works; less one thing to be proud of Malaysia for.

  2. Andrew I says:

    On the other hand, I’d be more worried if the chicken rice tasted better than usual.

  3. Pratamad says:

    Great stories! 🙂

    They reflect the prejudice people have after so many years of corrupt culture, and the immature political thinking of the public (“I vote for you, therefore you must return the favour”).

    It’s a long haul for Malaysia, for the change will take time to bear fruit, but change we must, NOW, as the first steps.

  4. pl says:

    Dua cerita saja? Jangan kedekut lah, share lebih banyak cerita yang bagus macam ini dengan pembaca TNG lain kali, k?

    Waiting for next installation =)

  5. melissa says:

    Cheer up, I know for a fact the councillors here in Melbourne also get a lot of crap from the public although society here is generally more civilised. One thing I’ve learnt since I came here. Problems in society are relative everywhere. On the other extreme, people here get fined for the slightest breach of the so-called “law”. Does it work? I think so although in a way it’s also strangely repressive. Being fined for going 2 kmph over the limit really cramps one’s style. :p

  6. fslam says:

    Well, councillors are the punching bags of the residents as they thought that you represent the government. You cannot blame them.

    They had been used to the inefficiencies of the BN local town councils and the staff became so arrogant that you can complaint till the cows come home and nothing will come out of it.

    However, representing as councillors representing a newly elected government will be worse as you sometimes get sabotaged by civil servants in the local authorities as well as the local utility bodies.

    As you know, we are getting more water cuts than usual in the period from March 2008 till now.

    I do not envy your job but it is necessary to get the local authority machinery moving.

    Only when PR forms the federal government will the civil servants and the utility companies sit up and listen.

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