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The opposition label

IN the course of serving as a councillor in the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) for more than two years, I have been viewed as the “opposition” by some of my colleagues.

Though none have said this to me personally, they find other tongue-in-cheek ways of making it known. For example, one councillor who sat next to me during a meeting declared, “I’m sitting in the opposition bench.”

I suppose this viewpoint stems from the fact that I am often at odds with some of the decisions my fellow councillors make, especially when it comes to property development project approvals. Let me explain how.


Table talk

Since my reputation for opposing project approvals precedes me, some property developers seek to negotiate privately with me in advance before their projects are brought to the objection-hearing stage. They are keen to show off their development blueprints and tell me the exorbitant amounts they wish to spend to upgrade the infrastructure of the surrounding neighbourhood.

To further strengthen their argument, they say that PJ is an aging township that needs to be redeveloped to help generate more economic activities.

When I state that their projects do not adhere to the requirements of statutory documents like the National Physical Plan, they will tell me that if they were to comply with all the rules, property prices would skyrocket.

They tell me that such cost-cutting measures only benefit the consumer, since the developer can pass on the savings.

Consequences

What the developers fail to mention are the problems that property buyers inherit when rules are not followed. High-rise properties without strata-titles; non-issuance of Certificates of Fitness or Certificate of Completion and Compliance, which prevents legal occupancy of a building; and landslide tragedies that are brushed off as an act of God. These are among the common issues related to development projects that do not follow the rules.

These problems are not felt by the developers, who would have sold off the property and moved on to their next project, leaving the mess for the government to clean up.

Wild goose chase

Wild goose chase

It does not help that the government machinery is not a cohesive structure and often sends complainants on a wild goose chase. In fact, I have a litany of complaint letters and emails from irate buyers who feel victimised by an uncaring government system.

Loyalty

Invariably, my stand on issues would generate complaints to the DAP higher-ups about how I do not “toe the line” whenever I object to requests for approvals. Many even question my loyalty to the Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

The argument goes along the lines of how I am working counter to PR policies by objecting to development projects that other councillors approve of.

The DAP higher-ups have thus far not seen the need to reprimand me, while some have even messaged me their support. Regardless, I think it is best that I state clearly where my loyalties are exactly.

One of the core concepts that the PR was founded on is to serve the public, and the term “Ketuanan Rakyat” that the PR is so fond of saying at political rallies is supposed to reflect this.

Similarly, when I was appointed as a councillor, I took an oath to serve the public, and I have no intention of breaking that oath. But somehow, serving the public’s interest by adhering to the rules appears to put me in the “opposition”.

KW Mak is a DAP-appointed councillor in MBPJ who believes that the truest test of a good government is its ability to stand up to public scrutiny.

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4 Responses to “The opposition label”

  1. Andrew I says:

    Well, our good friends in the BN have said that there is a difference between being the opposition and actually running the country. In the urban states like Penang and Selangor, if you were stick to strict governance, you’d be seen as anti-development, something which, no doubt, our good friends in the BN will exploit to the hilt.

    Sleeping with the enemy i.e. the developers, makes it a rock and a hard place situation for PR. These profit maximisers are the antithesis of social well being, but the sad fact is that many view new buildings as signs of the great leap forward. There’s really no need for maintenance, just build a new one.

    Things like strata titles become luck of the draw, a bit like the wild wild west: you have the sheriff but you still have to thank God that another day has passed by without you being shot dead.

  2. pj_guy says:

    Hi Mr Mak, please continue to do what you are doing. Growing up here in PJ, all too often we have seen many crazy things that go beyond the interests of residents and more towards those who only have moneymaking on their mind without regard for how things should be done properly.

    Thank you for keeping us in the know about what is happening in the council. Appreciate it and I hope we as residents can do something, too.

  3. Fern says:

    Thank you for standing up for the rakyat when everyone else is very complacent. It’s good to know we have people like you who do their job right.

  4. Bundle of Crap says:

    Opposition within the ruling coalition? A great change [...]. If you find things wrong with how the Council operates, as a local councillor, do continue to voice out your disagreement! Don’t let those snide and childish remarks by other[s] hold you back on voicing out discrepancies within the Council. [...] Big thanks!


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