Stop this neighbourhood ‘thuggery’

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FEB 19 — A rusty makeshift iron gate forms a line across the road leading into a neighbourhood in Ampang.

It is manned by a shabbily dressed security guard — a foreigner — who fails to grasp basic English and Bahasa Melayu. He is often seen in slippers and is forced to sit under the sun with only the shade of the nearby trees to keep him cool.

He conducts his hourly rounds on his trusted bicycle.

One wonders where he would go if there is a downpour. With no toilets nearby, it is also baffling how the guard eases himself.

Residents in the neighbourhood are now ‘forced’ to pay RM100 a month and RM5 for a vehicle sticker since the guard made his presence felt two weeks ago.

Susan, who moved into the area four years ago, described the situation as “uncomfortable”.

“A month ago, a security company came around and asked the residents if they wanted security services in the neighbourhood. Suddenly, we see a barricade and one or sometimes two security guards manning it,” said Susan.

Susan was unsure who had authorised the security company to operate there.
“I’ve been living here for four years and there is no residents association. One of the lorongs (lane) had a security post and the same guard who used to work there has now placed himself on the main road.

“Don’t get me wrong. I’ve always wanted to stay in a guarded community. But I believe in doing things the right way.”

Susan explained while some vehicles were stopped from entering the area, people continued to walk freely as it provided a short cut to a nearby hypermarket.

“I believe it is people who rob houses, not cars,” said Susan sarcastically. 

Due to the hilly condition and winding road, the guards are unable to see beyond the second lane where they are placed.

More importantly, Susan believes the security company has not obtained the approval of the local council.

The Ampang Jaya Municipal Council guarded community guidelines, drafted in 2011, had among others stated:

1 (h) Residents who DO NOT join the scheme cannot be stopped from entering their neighbourhood at any time.

2 (a) An application must be made by the residents’ association or the developer (new housing scheme)

2 (b) Any move to hire security guards must obtain the approval of 75 per cent of the residents (including tenants)

Security Services Association of Malaysia president Datuk Shaheen Mirza Habib had told The Malay Mail last November that only locals and Nepali ex-servicemen are allowed to work as security guards in the country. Yet, many continued to hire foreigners as they were “cheap”.

One does not need to quote any laws to point out that it is the basic right for any worker to have proper access to basic amenities. 

But Susan said she is often met with ‘sour faces’ each time she highlighted such matters.

Chatty neighbours whisper about security companies, if brushed aside from operating in an area, would then ensure unwanted incidents occurred in the neighbourhood to strike fear. 

“Who appointed this security firm? Was it someone from the neighbourhood? Would he or she be getting kickbacks?

“It is amazing how we demand for transparency from the government, lambast politicians about cronyism but choose to close an eye when it comes to our neighbourhood. I guess we are all hypocrites.”

Susan is ever ready to pay for a secured neighbourhood, perhaps to pei min (give face) to her neighbours rather than anything else.

But she will not cave in to neighbourhood thuggery, where a group of residents suddenly decide to play little Napoleons and go against the guidelines.

She is tired of being bullied by the irresponsible few who make those who adhere to the law seem to be the bad ones.

Many out there face the same predicament as Susan. Let’s hope the local authorities ensure justice is served to those living in their community.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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