I AM often approached by people telling me about their woes and how they are unfairly treated by Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) officers.
There are no morals to this story, save those that readers interpret for themselves.
One side of the story
It was around 10pm when my phone rang. On the line was a karaoke operator crying foul that enforcement officers were unfairly carting away his equipment. Despite his repeated claims that he had applied for a licence and that an elected representative was helping him with the licensing approval, the enforcement operation proceeded as planned.
(Pic by v_rol / sxc.hu)Not knowing the full details of the matter, I said I would meet him together with the enforcement officer to see if we could sort it out. The next morning, the operator showed me several licence application forms. The application date was a little over two months old.
“The MBPJ should not have taken action while my application is pending! And why does it take them so long to approve a licence? I used to pay off the officers, but because YB (Yang Berhormat) said the licences were ready, I stopped paying them recently. So now they are taking it out on me!”
The complainant proceeded to decry how officers of a certain ethnic group were all useless, and that Chinese Malaysians — meaning I — should look after our own people.
“I got a state exco member to write a letter of support for my shop in Shah Alam, but I didn’t think I would need it here in PJ,” the operator said.
The other side
“This is the second time we raided them,” explained the enforcement officer. “They have been operating for some time even before they applied for the licence.”
The officer also explained that prior to the raid, the enforcement department had received numerous complaints from surrounding residents about the volume of the noise from the karaoke lounge.
“That is not a karaoke lounge,” retorted the karaoke operator. “We don’t serve drinks, and there are no GROs (guest relations officers). It is an institution of learning, where people go to practise their singing so they can take part in professional competitions. Some of the patrons even participate in state-level karaoke championships.”
(Pic by Tianbin Liu / Dreamstime) The MBPJ officer replied that if it truly was a centre of learning, there would be classrooms and teachers and no booking of rooms. A centre of learning would also have strict operation hours. But the karaoke operator had flouted the regulations for operating hours numerous times by opening past 1am.
“If we did not take action, the public would accuse us of taking bribes,” said the officer. “They are already accusing us because after the first raid, the karaoke centre reopened and we left them alone for a few months pending their licence application.”
Not wanting to debate the matter further, the karaoke operator said he only wanted his equipment back, and hoped that the MBPJ would speedily approve his licence.
Much to the operator’s horror, he could only collect his confiscated karaoke machines if he paid a RM10,000 fine. He also could not reopen the shop until the licence was issued, which was unlikely because of the numerous complaints against the shop.
Leaving the room, the karaoke operator appealed to me once more to help out a fellow Chinese Malaysian. He believed that surely as a councillor, I could pull some strings.
MBPJ councillor KW Mak is intentionally leaving the story unfinished because he would like some reader opinion as to what they would have done in his shoes.
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