KUALA LUMPUR, 4 April 2009: Less than 24 hours after he was appointed prime minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak made a surprise visit to three areas in the federal capital to meet the people and know their problems.
Clad in casual khaki attire, Najib spent over two hours visiting Petaling Street, also known as KL’s Chinatown, the predominantly-Malay area of Vista Angkasa near Kampung Kerinchi, and then Brickfields with its Indian Malaysian-majority community.
Najib was accompanied by KL Mayor Datuk Ahmad Fuad Ismail and Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Zulhasnan Rafique, who was understood to have briefed Najib earlier on the three areas and the upgrading projects.
The new prime minister arrived in Petaling Street at 3.25pm with the traders and shoppers looking pleasantly surprised by the visit. Najib went around shaking hands and exchanging a few words with the crowd, including a lorry attendant.
Some in the crowd clapped or waved their hands at Najib, some took photographs while there were those who wasted no time informing Najib of their problems.
Najib advised the traders at this popular tourist spot to employ locals.
“It’s good if the leaders meet the people more often,” said trader Lim Teck Heng, 47.
Najib received the same warm reception in Vista Angkasa with its low-cost and medium-cost apartments.
“I was really surprised to see the prime minister coming out of his car here. I am also touched by his presence. I like his approach,” said Mohamad Hassan, a resident.
“I want this to be an unofficial and surprise visit. I told Zulhasnan that I did not want a red-carpet welcome with ‘bunga manggar’,” Najib told the residents.
“My visit is for meeting ordinary people to know about their problems,” he added.
Najib also said that the government had approved a RM6.1 million allocation to improve the housing area, which has 1,050 units including 196 low-cost ones.
Out of the allocation, RM2.8 million will be for repainting the blocks, RM1.3 million for repairing the roofs, RM1 million for improving the anti-lightning system, RM600,000 for replacing the lifts and RM400,000 for improving the telecommunication system.
Najib said the strata titles for the housing area would be issued after the completion of the upgrading works which would begin soon.
“The government will implement what is within its means to provide a more comfortable living environment for the people. This is in line with the One Malaysia concept with the people’s needs being given priority and implementation of projects speeded up.”
Besides talking to the residents, Najib also toured the area. He was there for about 20 minutes.
“When a leader comes visiting like this, only then will he know about our needs and problems,” said Othman Ahmad, 58.
When Najib then arrived at the row of shophouses in Jalan Tun Sambanthan, Brickfields at 4.20pm, the atmosphere was rather joyous as traders, shoppers and passers-by reached forward to shake hands with Najib.
He even stopped at a restaurant there for ‘putu mayam’ and ‘thosai’ with curry on a banana leaf, and a glass of ‘teh O ais limau’ (iced tea with a queeze of lime) before leaving “Little India” at 5pm.
“Who would think that yesterday he took his oath of office (as PM) and today he’s here?” said G. Subramaniam, 20, a Brickfields resident.
Foodstall operator R. Puvaneswaran, 37, was delighted to see the prime minister at close range. “I am also happy that many ISA detainees are freed. I have three relatives (among them).”
Another resident, A Parameswari, 50, said leaders must always “turun padang” (go to the ground) to look after the interest of the people.
It is learnt that Najib will be using the same approach in the states he will be visiting. — Bernama