It is a worrying trend to assume that no protests or pickets should be held against the PR government as the PR is supposed to be more pro-people compared to the BN, writes A Sivarajan.
On 15 November, around 100 people, house buyers of the PJS1 Block E low-cost houses, organised a picket in front of the Shah Alam State Assembly building, demanding that the Pakatan Rakyat state government resolve their long-standing housing issue as soon as possible.
The peaceful picket started at 10.45am and the protesters were later greeted by exco member Iskandar, who turned up to receive the memorandum.
The people explained to Iskandar that they are here to see the Menteri Besar. Iskandar himself has many times informed the PJS1 committee and PSM that their issue is 100 per cent handled by the MB himself and none of the Exco members knows his plan.
Thus rightly the people were here this morning to meet the MB and hopefully listen to his proposal or solution to the 230 over buyers that have been denied housing since 2003.
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PJS residents protest at Shah Alam
Yes, then the Khir Toyo BN government failed to resolve the issue as the developer Peter Brickworks was let off even though he failed to build houses for the PJS1 long-house residents. Nearly 136 buyers are currently residing in PPR Putra Damai, Lembah Subang.
That’s why the BN was voted out of Selangor in the last general eleciton, and the rakyat chose the alternative, Pakatan, to resolve their long standing issues.
Now after five months, the MB promised to resolve their matter. Till today the long houses continue to suffer from floods because of the adjacent development by Peter Brickworks. The ‘stop work’ order to the developer was lifted even when the problems of housing and flooding were not resolved. It not known who from the MBPJ or state government issued the instruction for the order to be lifted.
Now, the buyers, mostly from low-income working class families, are being harassed by the bank to pay up. Some have been blacklisted for houses that have not been built. For the long-house residents who reside near the project site, flooding has been common due to the ineffective drainage undertaken by the developer.
Thus, they turned to the state government and the MB as their hope to resolve the matter. Many letters were sent since June 2011 asking the MB for a meeting and an immediate solution, but none was answered. A press conference was held to relate their problem at the long-house site and inform the MB that they planned to see him on 15 November. Still no response from the MB.
PJS protesters locked out
On 15 November, when they waited anxiously outside the state government building gates, the exco member Iskandar informs them that the MB refuses to meet the residents.
Why are the rakyat with a genuine problem in hand and with no other political agenda behind being treated like an enemy of the PR government?
Was it wrong to demand a solution from the government that they voted for? Is everyone who organises any kind of picket or sends a memorandum to the state as anti-PR government, trouble makers and BN stooges?
Are they supposed to sit quietly at their long-houses, not knowing when their houses will be built , tolerating floods due to development works by Peter Brickworks, and hope and pray that their problems are resolved?
The comments on some of the news websites completely humiliate and mock the house-buyers for bringing their grouses to the MB. Why?
Would they be standing in the hot sun and sacrificing their day’s wages if their problems were resolved in June 2011.
It was the MB’s promise then to resolve the matter within three or four days. He gave himself that deadline, not the house-buyers; so is it demanding too much to ask for a solution five months later?
Finally, after much persistence, the MB finally met four committee members, and promised that he would have a meeting with the developer within a week’s time. The house buyers were happy that they did not have to return empty-handed. They have made the MB understand their problems and why it is important to resolve them as soon as possible.
It is important to understand the issue in totality and why the picket was held at the state government this morning. The immediate response by many – that any protest or picket against the state government must have been organised by pro-BN forces and those behind them are just trouble makers – has to be analysed.
It is a worrying trend to assume that no protest or pickets should be held against the PR government, since the PR has been very pro-people compared to the BN. The government by the people has to always open its ears to voices of dissent as a check and balance mechanism to its own administration. It should not assume that such actions are threats to its administration .
On 15 November, the people taught the PR administration to be always sensitive to low-cost housing and not delay solutions. We don’t want to make the same mistake that we did with the BN administration. Leaving them unchecked for 54 years led them to become such an oppressive state before 2008. Now PR should welcome such continuous participation from the masses for it to be truly a government by the people and for the people.
A Sivarajan is treasurer of Parti Sosialis Malaysia