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Eyebrows raised over holiday homes
By Brenda ch’ng

community

December 30, 2011 — January 1, 2012/ issue 55

suBanG JaYa: A move by the municipality here to acquire holiday homes in Langkawi, despite not having enough budget to fix potholes, is not sitting well with ratepayers. “The two condominium units at Century Suria, Pulau Langkawi are expected to cost the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) RM530,000. “That’s not right, using the people’s money to buy condos and telling us in return they don’t have funds to fix roads, parks and streetlights,” said PJS9 resident Mohd Noor Ahmad. The vice-president of Rukun Tetangga PJS9  said the council should use ratepayers’ money for such purchases. “Stop telling us [there is] no budget when you have funds to buy condominiums,” said Mohd Noor. While he agreed that many companies buy holiday homes for their staff, those expenses are from profit and not public funds. “This is just absurd, as local councils should be responsible for looking after the welfare of the people first and putting their own needs second,” said Subang resident Marc Chow. The 24-year-old said the money could be used to improve infrastructure. MPSJ disclosed during its full board meeting last Friday that the purchases had been approved. The two units, costing RM256,388 for a 1,025 sq ft unit and RM270,500 for a 1,155 sq ft unit, will be added on to existing holiday homes in Port Dickson and Cameron Highlands. The revelation received a mixed response

from councillors who attended the meeting. “We already have two units in Cameron and two in Port Dickson [which MPSJ is planning to sell]. I don’t think we should waste anymore funds,” said MPSJ councillor Tan Jo Hann. He said the council should cut down on • turn to page 2

State executive councillors Dr Xavier Jayakumar (second right) and Yaakob Sapari (in green) during a visit to the construction site of the century-old Midlands estate school in Shah Alam on Thursday (Dec 29). With them is school board and Parent-Teacher Association representative K Uthayasoorian. The new school building will contain 24 classrooms, a science lab, and computer lab, and is expected to be completed in March. • Story on page 6

From The Staff and Management of

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news

TNB: Alternative route no better
SHAH ALAM: Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) is maintaining its stand that the alternative route proposed by a foreign consultant is no better than the original route for the stalled high-tension cable project in Rawang. “Some of the shops along Jalan Ipoh will have to be demolished [if we use the alternative route],” said TNB vice-president (transmission) Datuk Rozimi Remeli in a phone interview yesterday. Hired by Selangor to conduct a feasibility study on alternative routes for TNB’s Central Area Reinforcement (CAR) project, Aecom New Zealand had proposed to align the 275kV power lines along the Rawang Highway using existing road reserves. “If the state can suggest a route where we don’t have to remove houses or shops, why would we reject such a deal?” said Rozimi. He said TNB would be more than willing to follow an alternative route that is “free of encumbrance”. He added that CAR is an important project to strengthen the grid that supplies power from Perak power stations to Selangor, including Rawang and Bukit Beruntung. He said the power lines, stretching from Bukit Tarek in northern Selangor to Chubadak in Ampang, are 98% completed. “The remaining 2% is the part that goes through Kampung Sungai Terentang. We only have to install five more towers [to complete the project],” said Rozimi. Since 2005, Kampung Sungai Terentang villagers have protested against the transmission lines from passing through their village as at least 51 homes would have to be demolished. In addition, villagers are concerned that a primary school, a maternity and child clinic, and a kindergarten expected to be completed next January are located only 20 to 25 metres from the proposed transmission line. According to the International Health Research Association, pregnant women, infants and children are the groups most vulnerable to magnetic fields from high-voltage transmission lines. Rawang assemblyperson Gan Pei Nei said various government agencies, including TNB senior engineers, state and local government officials, have surveyed the alternative route last Thursday night and Friday morning. She said the detailed survey findings are expected to be presented at the Selangor Economic Action Council next Thursday.
a kindergarten expected to be completed in January is only metres away from the proposed high-tension cable. Villagers are worried about the health impact.

December 30, 2011 — January 1, 2012

Alternative viewpoints from MPSJ staff and councillors
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unnecessary expenses and focus on maximising funds for the development of local communities. “Why should we waste funds ... when we don’t even have enough money for repairing streetlights?” said Tan. Reiterating his concerns was councillor Edward Ling. “They got their budgeting all wrong. They like to allocate money for the less important things rather then focusing on the people and their needs,” he said. But MPSJ councillor K Arumugam presented a different point of view. “I actually support the purchase of the apartment units. I believe staff are encouraged to go on family holidays locally to rest and relax,” he said. He said the purchase price was reasonable, and the units are an investment to MPSJ as they are close to the jetty. His opinion was echoed by fellow councillor Ng Sze Han, who thinks the purchase will be cost-effective in the long run. The new condos are also needed because of the  overwhelming demand for council units in Cameron Highlands. In addition, MPSJ maintains that money to buy the condos will come

Datuk asmawi Kasbi: The units would benefit mpSJ’s 1,400 staff.

ng Sze Han: purchase will be cost-effective.

from the council’s asset budget and not from allocations meant for infrastructure or landscaping. “These purchases have been budgeted for,” said MPSJ president Datuk Asmawi Kasbi. He pointed out that the holiday homes would benefit MPSJ’s 1,400 staff, who could use them for family vacations at a nominal rate. “We have lower-income staff who can’t afford to go on holidays. With this condo, they can holiday in Langkawi at an affordable price,” added an MPSJ public relations spokesperson. The spokesperson said the minimal rental charges would allow MPSJ to maintain the units but not profit from them. “All companies give benefits to their staff and buy holiday homes. I don’t see why MPSJ can’t do the same,” he said. The acquisition had been pro-

posed by former MPSJ president Datuk Adnan Ikhsan, and had been discussed at the council’s Employee Representative Committee meeting. The move had also been supported by staff and some councillors. Initially, the former president had pushed for the purchase of three apartment units in Puchong Prima. But this had been rejected because Puchong is not a holiday destination. After much debate, the committee had agreed on the two units at Langkawi. However, during the full board meeting, Asmawi said MPSJ will not purchase the units until the prices are re-evaluated by real-estate assessors. “We will check to see if that is the best price before making purchases,” he said.

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DECEMbEr 30, 2011 — january 1, 2012

EvEnts
Fun for children
The Kajang Gospel Centre will be having a cooking, singing, games and craft session at their centre from Dec 29-31 from 9am to 1.30pm. Admission fee is RM15 per child, on firstcome-first-served basis. For more details, call 012-2737121 (Low) or 03-87345972 (Mah).

Residents want independent review of TNB towers

Book warehouse sale
There will be a book sale until Jan 1, 2012 from 10am-9pm at the Petaling Jaya City Council’s (MBPJ) multipurpose hall on Jalan BU 3/1 Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya. Discounts of up to 80% from Crescent’s books. For more details, contact 03-6184 2448 or email crescent@tm.net.my.

Free talk
A free talk will be held by Prof Datuk Dr Mazlan Othman at the Theatrette Planetarium Negara, Jalan Perdana, Kuala Lumpur on “The Unknown Universe” on Jan 4. Admission is free but registration is necessary. Closing date is Jan 2. To register, contact 03-2694 9898 (Hermayanti/Seetha) or email herma@ akademisains.gov.my or seetha@akademisains.gov.my.

Musical day
Astro Vannavil is holding a music day for the mind, spirit and self-realisation on Jan 7 from 9am-12.30pm. The event will be held at the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) library hall at Lot 389, Jalan Selangor, Section 3, Petaling Jaya. Admission is free. For more details call 012-2100481 (Ching Hooi).

None of the invited authorities turned up for the residents’ briefing on Boxing Day.

Food donation
In conjunction with the Ponggal Festival on Jan 14, Sri Lanka Tamil Refugees Humanitarian Programme is calling to the public to donate food supplies to Sri Lankan refugees here. Items needed are rice, brown sugar, milk sugar, cashew nuts, raising, ghee, and anything else well wishes wish to donate. For further information call 016-6880455 (Eashvara Lingam).

By Chong Loo Wah CHERAS: Residents here appealed to the state to hire

Back to school
Rukun Tetangga Taman Desawan Klang will be organising a “Back To School 2012” event to provide poor and underprivileged children with school bags, attire, shoes and notebooks. The event will be held on Jan 26, and is targeted at children within the vicinity of Taman Desawan, Taman Klang Jaya and Taman Desa Utama. Contact Rukun Tetangga chairperson Puvananderan Ganasamoorthy at 012-2652751 or email gpuvan@rocketmail.com.

Art exhibition
NN Gallery will be holding an art exhibition titled The Prayer at White Box Solaris Dutamas until Jan 3. The exhibition will be showcasing 25 Malaysian artists who will be presenting their reflection on the theme. Participants include Datuk Sharifah Fatimah Zubir, Ahmad Zakii Anwar, Syed Thajudeen and Cheong Laitong. For more details call 03-42706588.

an independent consultant to determine the best route for Tenaga Nasional Bhd’s (TNB) high-tension cable project across Cheras. Claiming that the state has been misled by TNB, community leader Datuk Eadon Ching said Selangor should seek a third party’s expertise and opinion, as it did for another controversial TNB project in Rawang. “This project will affect around 14 neighbourhoods, including Taman Bukit Segar Jaya, Taman Cheras Hartamas and more,” said the chairperson of the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council Zone 24 High-Tension Cable Action Committee. He said an estimated 25,000 residents would be living close to the 275kV transmission lines that will run from Taman Connaught to Kajang. In addition, residents fear that the 42-metre-high pylons will weaken the hillslopes of Bukit Sungai Puteh Tambahan and cause landslides. Residents remain unconvinced despite TNB’s reassurance that the pylon construction would strengthen the hillslopes based on a study conducted by the Public Works Institute of Malaysia (Ikram). They were further infuriated by the authorities’ absence at a briefing organised by the action committee

on Monday. The action committee had invited TNB, Ikram, Selangor executive councillor Elizabeth Wong, Pandan Member of Parliament Datuk Seri Ong Tee Kiat, and Teratai assemblyperson Jenice Lee, among others, to the briefing. However, only two Ampang Jaya municipal councillors – Sian Keng Eng and S Supiramany – as well as Ong’s representative Cindy Leong turned up for the briefing. Five hundred concerned residents were left disappointed, and a furious Ching even threw water bottles on the ground during his speech. Started in 2009 and halted since October 2010, TNB had said the RM91 million project is crucial to ensure stable power supply to Cheras, Balakong and the proposed Langat 2 water treatment plant. The Selangor Economic Action Council gave TNB the green light to resume construction on Dec 9 after amending the original route to cut across a forest reserve. Subsequently, 200 residents protested in front of the state secretariat and TNB headquarters on Dec 19 as they were unhappy with the state-approved route. Ching said the action committee would continue to oppose the present route and organise a 10,000-strong protest to further pressure the authorities to listen to their objections.

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Century-old estate school gets new building
By Basil Foo SHAH ALAM: Construction of a new building for the century-old SJK(T) Ladang Midlands is expected to be completed in March. “With the new building, we expect a higher enrollment rate. The previous building was old and on the verge of collapse,” said headmistress G Varalakshmy. The school will be able to accommodate between 800 and 1,000 students, up from its current enrollment of 200, upon completion of the building. The new facilities are also expected to be a boon to the community as parents were previously hesitant to send their children to the school due to the poor facilities. The new building, with a construction cost of RM3 million paid for by the Selangor state government, will contain 24 classrooms, a library, science lab, and computer lab. An additional RM1 million was raised by the school to enlarge the new hall to a capacity of 130 tables from a previous capacity of 50. Varalakshmy said this will be a way for the school to earn

DECEMbEr 30, 2011 — january 1, 2012

news

Major changes to main road in SS16
Shopping Gallery (B). Road users will also no longer be able to turn right onto Jalan SS16/1 and Subang Parade from Jalan Jengka. To access the back of Subang Parade, the public will have to make a loop by driving through Jalan Kemajuan Subang before turning left onto Jalan SS16/2 and left again onto Jalan SS16/1 (C). Jalan SS16/2, between Subang Parade and Carrefour, will still remain a two-way street. However, MPSJ will be building an island at the end of Jalan SS16/2 (facing the Subang train station) to prevent cars from making uturns. Another island will be built at the end of Jalan Jengka (opposite Empire Shopping Gallery) to prevent u-turns as well. “Signboards will be put up along the street to notify and guide road users,” said MPSJ president Datuk Asmawi Kasbi, who hopes traffic congestion will reduce after the changes are implemented.

revenue, by renting the hall out to the public to hold functions like weddings. “Previously, the environment here was not conducive for education. We would like to thank the state government for their help with the new building,” said K Uthayasoorian. The school board and Parent-Teacher Association representative said the new building, on Jalan Plumbum 7/100, is the school’s fourth site since its founding in 1908. The Midlands estate school has been at its current location since 2004 and is staffed with 15 teachers with a stagnant enrollment rate for the past several years. SJK(T) Ladang Midlands school building under construction. “We are expecting the school to reach full enrollment within two years. This is because there is a significant field estate in Ijok is scheduled to begin in a month’s time. shortage of Tamil schools in the state,” said Dr Xavier Jayaku“We hope the Education Ministry pays close attention to mar. the issue of school shortage and increase their funding in acThe state executive councillor spoke during a press confer- cordance to the communities needs,” he added. ence after a visit to the construction site of the new school Also at the site visit were state executive councillor Yaakob building on Thursday (Dec 29). Sapari and Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) Building DeHe said construction of another Tamil school in the Coal- partment officers.

SUBANG JAYA: The Subang Jaya Municipal

Council (MPSJ) will be implementing changes in traffic flow around three malls and a business centre in SS16 to mitigate traffic snarls. From Jan 15, Jalan Jengka, between Wisma Tractor and Subang Parade, will be converted into a two way street (A – see map ). Traffic from Jalan SS16/1 (behind Subang Parade) will be allowed to turn left on Jalan Jengka before proceeding to Jalan Kemajuan Subang (in front of Subang Parade). Currently, Jalan Jengka is a one-way street, and traffic can either turn left to Empire Shopping Gallery or to Subang Parade on the right. Two lanes on Jalan Jengka will accommodate traffic travelling from Jalan Kemajuan Subang to Jalan SS16/1, and one lane for traffic travelling in the opposite direction. In addition, Jalan SS16/1 will be made a one-way street, with traffic flowing from Carrefour towards Subang Parade and Empire

Subang Jaya KTM Station

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NY’s countdown hotspots
USHER in the New Year with music at Sunway Lagoon’s surf beach and be entertained with a performance from international artists like Rania from Korea, Ella from Taiwan and DJ Patrick Oliver from USA, in addition to local acts. Book your tickets, priced from RM59, at www.ticketcharge.com.my. If you want to sit down at cafés and bars while awaiting the stroke of midnight, head on inside to Sunway Pyramid to be entertained by street buskers and fireworks. For families, head on down to Dataran Seni Klang from 8.30pm onwards and join the Klang Municipal Council as they welcome the New Year. Highlights are colouring competitions and karaoke contest for children, street dancing competitions, and fireworks at midnight. If Klang is too far from you, head to Jalan SK6/1 Seri Kembangan New Village instead, and join villagers for their annual countdown.There will be a talent show for girls aged 18 and above in various categories like singing, dancing and playing musical instruments. The event will start from 7pm. If these aren’t really your thing, dance your way to 2012 at SkyBar Kuala Lumpur with DJ Keza from Paris, who will be entertaining patrons all night long. Japanese anime fans can head on down to 7atenine in Kuala Lumpur for a Japanesethemed party, where LED geisha and Harajuku fringe dancers will liven up the party. DJs Shiro and Joro will also be flying in all the way from Japan to entertain the crowd along with saketini shots and Japanese tapas platters to start off the evening. Tickets are priced at RM197, and booking is not necessary. For more information, visit their website at www.sevenatenine.com. If foam and bubbles are your thing, count down at Republic Bar at Oasis Boulevard, Sunway Pyramid. The bar will be featuring live performances from DJ Zoey, Kiya, McSharkey, ClassicK, D Boy, Vick and RA. Ticket prices are RM30 (for entry before 9pm) and RM50 (for entry after 9pm). No booking is necessary. Another place one could go to is i-City, where the prime minister will be ushering in the New Year with the public. Highlights of the event will be an appearance by Sponge Bob Squarepants for children, and music performances by local youths.

lan Ja Je k ng

Jalan SS15/5C

Jalan SS15/2

Masjid darul Ehsan

By Gan Pei Ling

SHAH ALAM: Selangor will issue land titles to 111 Kampung Seri Aman settlers in Ijok after the majority rejected the state’s redevelopment proposal. “Once all of the settlers agree to the land office’s layout plan, we’ll issue Form 5A (Notice that Land Revenue is Due) to them in the second week of January. “They will receive the land title after paying the RM1,000 land premium,” said Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim after meeting the settlers last Friday. The Menteri Besar and Ijok assemblyperson said each settler will

End in sight for settlers’ land woes
receive 4,000 sq ft of land valued at RM5 per sq ft. The Kuala Selangor District Council will prepare the layout plan and allocate pieces of land to the settlers, after taking into account areas to be set aside for road construction, drains, houses of worship and other public facilities. The settlers, who have been living ing the final survey by the Survey and Mapping Department ( Jupem). If the developer fails to pay the fees for the final survey, the onus may fall back on the purchasers to pay the survey fees. In the case of Taman Ehsan and Desa Jaya, it is fortunate that the final survey had already been carried out. “All that was left was for the Gombak Land Office to convert the qualified title to the final grant,” said Wong. Letters of notification will be distributed out to the property owners in two separate meetings which will be held in January. The meeting for Taman Ehsan residents will be held at the public hall there on Saturday, Jan 7 at 11am. A second meeting for Desa Jaya residents will be held on Sunday, Jan 8 at the Desa Jaya Public Hall (near the wet market) at 2pm. Property owners only need to bring their identity cards with names that match those on the letters. “They do not need to bring their original titles. We will brief them on the final process,” said Wong. in the village for over 40 years, had earlier rejected the state’s offer to build them double-storey houses that would be sold to them at a subsidised price of RM70,000, compared with the market price of RM120,000. Khalid said the state will buy back the land at RM20,000 from qualified settlers who do not want to live on their allocated land. Those who are not among the 111 settlers listed can apply to the Kuala Selangor Land Office to buy the land at RM20,000, Khalid added. “The funds will be used to improve infrastructure such as drains to prevent floods, as well as to build basic facilities like roads and streetlights,” he said. He said those who receive the land title cannot sell the land within the next three years. This is to prevent price speculation and to protect the settlers’ rights. Khalid had also instructed the Land Office to distribute information leaflets to the settlers in Ba-

December 30, 2011 — January 1, 2012

news

7

Kepong homeowners to get final titles
KEPONG: Despite having bought his home in 1976, Sergeant Chau Pak Chong was unaware that he doesn’t have a complete title to his home. Like many of his neighbours in Taman Ehsan and Desa Jaya, Chau could not differentiate between a qualified title and final title. “Before this, I thought our qualified title is as good as a final title or grant,” he said. However, Chau and 2,400 other homeowners here will soon be receiving their final tiles from the Gombak Land Office, thanks to the efforts of Bukit Lanjan state lawmaker Elizabeth Wong (pic). Wong had called for a public meeting with residents of Taman Ehsan and Desa Jaya in July this year to help resolve the issue with the Gombak Land Office. She pointed out that the issue is long overdue. “As a result of the hard work by the Gombak Land Office, the qualified titles have now been converted to the final titles or grant,” she said. The backlog is the result of ignorance on the part of the house buyers as well as previous state administration, which did not give enough attention to the long-standing issue. A qualified title is issued to owners pendSUBANG JAYA: The Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) has been told to buck up following mounting complaints that have gone unresolved. “Many complaints have been made to MPSJ by both residents and me, but to date nothing has been done,” said Subang Jaya assemblyperson Hannah Yeoh. She said damaged streetlights on Persiaran Tujuan (near USJ11-USJ13) have not been repaired for over a month. Yeoh also pointed out that rubbish had been left collected for over five days in some areas, particularly USJ6. “Contractors are slacking off towards the end of year, not following schedule and leaving rubbish uncollected,” she said. She is calling on the council to blacklist and terminate non-performing contractors immediately. Yeoh also urged the council to improve their services and open more counters for license renewal at the end of the year. The current four operating counters aren’t enough to cater to the people. “I took a number myself and I was shocked to have to wait for 300 people in front of me before my turn,” she said.

hasa Malaysia and Tamil to ensure they fully understand the conditions and implications before making any decision. The settlers were left in a lurch due to the state administration’s flip-flopping stance on Kampung Seri Aman’s land status from 2001 to 2007. The Barisan Nasional-led administration had approved Westmine Development Sdn Bhd’s plan to develop the area in January 2001, but revoked its decision in October 2005. It subsequently chose to allow the developer to proceed with its development plan in October 2006, before cancelling the project again in 2007 to approve the settlers’ application for land titles. However, Form 5A was never issued to the settlers. Consequently, Westmine Development sued the state in July 2008. Khalid said the state could only proceed to solve the settlers’ land woes after the Shah Alam High Court ruled in the state’s favour in 2011.

MPSJ told to get its act together
She said MPSJ should open at least 10 counters during peak seasons. In addition, numerous potholes in USJ1, on Persiaran Kewajipan SS14, Persiaran Tujuan USJ17 and USJ15 (near Sekolah Wawasan) are posing danger to pedestrians and road users. “I’ve been informed by the council’s engineering department that they will fix potholes next year as there isn’t enough budget this year for repairs,” Yeoh said. She said patching the potholes should be a priority, and MPSJ should have allocated enough funds for the whole year. MPSJ president Datuk Asmawi Kasbi  has agreed to allocate an additional RM200,000 to repair these roads. He also said the council will take action against the non-performing garbage contractors.

8

News

MBSA to screen contractors
By Gan Pei Ling

DECEMbEr 30, 2011 — january 1, 2012

assuring the public that all their cleaning contractors will be vetted to ensure they can do the job. Mayor Datuk Mohd Jaafar Mohd Atan issued the guarantee after MBSA was criticised for selecting contractors based on lowest prices rather than competence. “We’ll check whether the contractors have the required equipment and staff to handle the job, their financial standing, and past service records. “There are criteria they have to fulfill and regulations we have to adhere to [in the tender selection process],” said the mayor after the city council’s full board meeting last Friday. Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad has raised concerns about the quality of contractors for public cleaning jobs, including drains, streets and roads, and grass-cutting. “MBSA is selecting contractors based on the lowest price. What if a contractor wins the bid by quoting a ridiculously low price, but then cuts corners and provides substandard services to the public?” said Khalid on Dec 20. Khalid claimed the practice would cause good contractors who offer reasonable prices to be sidelined, and many contractors have voiced their grouses with him. But Mohd Jaafar said MBSA would not hesitate to remove and blacklist any contractor that fail to carry out the cleaning services according to standards. “If contractor A quotes me RM500,000 but contractor B quotes me RM350,000 and he has a good service record, of course we would select contractor B. But if he doesn’t perform, we’ll remove him,” the mayor said. Mohd Jaafar added that the contractors are being paid using ratepayers’ money, so the city council would always select bidders

SHAH ALAM: The Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) is

that offer the “best value for money”. MBSA and other local governments in Selangor took over the management of cleaning duties in August and rubbish collection in October from solidwaste management concessionaire Alam Flora Sdn Bhd. The takeover is saving local governments an estimated RM100 million per year via cuts in sub-contractors’ profits through open tenders and RM40 million in management fees paid to Alam Flora annually. The local governments jointly used to pay Alam Flora RM400 million a year for its services.

City council goes paperless, uses iPads
SHAH ALAM: The Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) purchased iPads for all departmental directors to reduce the voluminous paper usage during meetings. “We want to go paperless,” said mayor Datuk Mohd Jaafar Mohd Atan, who said paper will only be used for secretariat and permanent-record purposes. The Apple tablet computer cost around RM1,500 per unit, and the council spent an estimated RM45,000. MBSA is also exploring the possibility of installing energy-efficient Light Emitting Diode (LED) streetlights and solar panels in public areas in residential neighbourhoods. “We’re still studying the possibilities, but we’re committed to go for renewable energy,” said Mohd Jaafar at the monthly full board meeting last Friday. He added that the city council is looking for interested developers and sponsors to collaborate on a pilot project to install LED streetlights and solar panels in their townships. “It can be part of their corporate social responsibility programme,” said Mohd Jaafar. If implemented, the Selangor capital city will be joining cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco in the United States, Taiwan, and European countries that are replacing conventional street lamps with LEDs. Local highway concessionaire PLUS Expressways Bhd recently also invested RM16 million to install LED lights along its Second Link Expressway that links Johor to Singapore. Despite the initial higher installation cost, LED streetlights are reportedly more energy-efficient, environmentally friendly and cost-efficient in the long term.

Khalid

Mohd Jaafar

Insufficient monitors for contractors in PJ
More personnel will be hired by the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) to monitor the city’s solidwaste contractors. “We are short-staffed and we need more supervisors in order to hav better garbage monitoring in all areas of the Hee city,” said MBPJ mayor Datuk Roslan Sakiman. MBPJ’s existing 34 super visors are hardpressed to monitor contractors who service 136 areas in the city. “I g ot many complaints from residents in Section 17 and Section 18 that rubbish in their area has not been collected for over a month,” Loh said Petaling Jaya South MP Hee Loy Sian during MBPJ’s full board meeting. During site visits, he found uncollected garbage on the streets. Hee urged the council to take action immediately and come up with a better management system. “If the contractors are not performing, MBPJ should terminate them and get new ones as I’ve been receiving many complaints from my area too,”
P E TA L I N G J AYA :

said Kelana Jaya MP Loh Gwo Burne. He pointed out that rubbish collectors have been frequently collecting rubbish at midnight, and sometimes at one in the morning. “Residents are worried and afraid to see people collecting rubbish after midnight. They don’t feel safe,” said Loh. Loh urged the council to mobilise more garbage trucks so that they can cover more areas during the day and not work long hours past midnight. However, the mayor explained that they can’t mobilise more trucks because they are shortstaffed. “We have many trucks, sufficient drivers, but not enough labourers to collect rubbish,” said Roslan. He said the council has plans to hire more labourers next year and mobilise more garbage trucks during the day. MBPJ councillor Latheefa Koya proposed for the council to hold a separate meeting to discuss funds and area management for garbage supervisors. “Clearly some areas are bigger than [others], and we should have more supervisors for larger areas,” she said. Latheefa urged the council to solve this problem immediately to ensure all rubbish problems are tackled in a timely manner.

Free bulk waste collection in Subang next year
By Brenda Ch’ng SUBANG JAYA: Bulk waste will be collected for free from Jan 15, according to schedule, by three nongovernmental organisations appointed by the municipality. The organisations are Amal Seri Sinar, Community Recycling Charity, and the Taiwan Buddhist Tzu-Chi Foundation Malaysia. “They will be assigned to collect rubbish from 94 different locations in Subang, Kinrara, Puchong and Seri Kembang an,” sa id Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) president Datuk Asmawi Kasbi. He said these organisations will collect items from bins placed across MPSJ, especially in residential areas. T h i s b u l k wa s t e c o l l e c ti o n pro g ramme wa s announce d by Asmawi during the council’s last full board meeting of the year last Friday. Bulk waste include old electronics, mattresses, clothes, glass, plastic, cardboard, car batteries and scrap metal. “These will be collected for free by the organisations, and those that can be recycled will be sent to the respective recycling centres,” said Asmawi.

He pointed out that the bulk waste will be collected within 24 hours. MPSJ officers will go on rounds to check on the collections every day. If the bins are full, the council will inform the organisation in charge of the area to collect the items immediately. However, for bigger or bulkier items, give the organisations a call and they will pick up the waste from homes. “There will be no extra charges for home collections,” said Asmawi. He pointed out that the Taiwan Buddhist Foundation will only be collecting bulk waste on the third Sunday of every month from 8am to 11am. Locations of their bins will be announced before the third Sunday of every month. To contact the organisations, call Amal Seri Sinar at 012-68616330 (Nurul Samsudin), Community Recycling Charity at 017-3638100 (Norazlin Mat Zin), and Taiwan Buddhist Tzu-Chi Foundation at 0378809048 (Tey Siong Chow). For more information on bin locations, contact MPSJ at 0380263131 or 03-56376545.

Proposal for solar-powered lights not taken up
SUBANG JAYA: The municipality’s reluctance to even consider using cost-saving solar-powered lights at fields under its jurisdiction left councillors frustrated during the full board meeting. Subang Jaya Municipal Councillor (MPSJ) Edward Ling submitted a proposal to install solar-powered lights at the PJS7 and PJS9 fields at a cost of RM6,000 on Oct 29. “I’m really disappointed for not getting a response for the project. “I’m also upset because the council rejected the project without firstly taking extra initiatives to study and see how Edward Ling the project can work,” said Ling during the meeting. The proposed pilot project was meant to save energy and cut electricity costs for the council. “I’ve done my research and am confident that this project will work out fine without any problems,” said Ling. The councillor had wanted MPSJ to try out the initiative in the two fields before implementing the measure in other parts of the municipality in stages if the pilot project was successful. Echoing Ling’s sentiments was fellow councillor K Arumugam, who urged the council implement the move as a trial project. “I fully support this project and I hope the council will consider trying it out at a few areas to see if it’s feasible,” he said. However, the council refused to undertake this project as it did not fulfill criteria in MPSJ’s project guideline. “There aren’t any solar powered lights with proper recognition from Sirim (Standard and Industrial Research Institute of Malaysia), and we don’t have certified contractors to install the green technology,” said MPSJ’s engineering department spokesperson. He explained that green technology products have to be approved by Sirim and then installed by contractors approved by the Contractor Service Centre (PKK). “It takes a while to study the installation as green technology entails many components that are different from the normal installations,” he said. Also, MPSJ is worried that without certification from Sirim, the product might be unreliable and break down. However, the explanation is not sitting well with councillors, who think that MPSJ should get the certification and hire the suitable contractors. “Suitable contractors can be hired and instead of waiting for Sirim, we can use products which already have international recognition,” said Ling. He pointed out that there are many reliable

december 30, 2011 — JANUArY 1, 2012

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solar-powered lights with international recognition sold at affordable prices. “Many technology companies are claiming that their products are internationally recognised, but what happens when the product malfunctions and we get blamed by residents?” asked MPSJ president Datuk Asmawi Kasbi. He said the council is open to green initiatives, but they will only do it if all criteria are met to ensure nothing does wrong during and after installation. According to him, this proposal was discussed in the council’s previous infrastructure meeting and will be further studied for future plans. The council is also waiting on green energy-efficient guidelines from the Department of Town and Country Planning Peninsular Malaysia. “When the guidelines come in, we can use it to bring in more solar technology and save energy,” said Asmawi.

Grandiose plans for Tg Harapan on hold
KLANG: A RM53.7 million   proposal to redevelop a tourist spot in North Port was put on hold by the K l a n g Mu n i c i p a l Council (MPK) onWednesday pending financial support. Among the pro posed budget for Tanjung Harapan’s redevelopment plan are RM1 million for a fountain; RM2 million for cabin toilets; RM10.7 million for a grilled fish restaurant; and RM15.4 million for two seafood restaurants. MPK acting president Ikhsan Mukri said the local council does not have the money to carry out the plan as they have other priorities for the RM193.4 million allocated for next year’s budget. “Tanjung Harapan has the potential to be developed further, but we’ll need to look for sponsors or private developers,” Ikhsan said after the redevelopment plan was presented to the council. A haven for seafood lovers and fishing activities, Tanjung Harapan is located next to the Port Klang Golf Resort and North Port industrial zone. MPK had set up a special committee in August 2011 to propose plans to attract more visitors to the seaside resort, a 20-minute drive from Klang town. Led by MPK councillor Jamaliddin Elias, the committee proposed short-term measures such as installing public toilets, rubbish bins and closed-circuit television (CCTV) at the site. However, extravagant long-term measures such as building a theme park and spending millions of ringgit to upgrade some of the popular seafood restaurants left councillors speechless. Councillor S Selvadurai said the plan was overly ambitious as the site does not even have public toilets. In addition, there is an Orang Asli settlement near Tanjung Harapan, raising fears that the community may need to be relocated for the redevelopment plan. Among those sitting in the special committee were councillor V Maneyvannan, Orang Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Pateh Akhir, and MPK department heads.

MPSJ to sanction Setia Walk flyover
SUBANG JAYA: Councillors here urged the municipality to give SP Setia Bhd the green light to build a flyover ramp at the Setia Walk development in Puchong to ease traffic congestion. “We have to take the initiative and send them a letter, telling them to start work on the ramp immediately,” said Subang Jaya Municipal Councillor (MPSJ) Tan Jo Hann. He urged the council not to delay this any longer as the traffic snarl at the mixed development, which includes service apartments, retail shops and office blocks, is raising concerns in neighbouring areas. Tan Jo Hann Residents fear that more accidents will happen along the busy Damansara-Puchong Highway (LDP) due to vehicles cutting into the development. Residents had also previously pointed out that traffic on Persiaran Wawasan and the LDP junction during peak hours is unbearable. Two months ago, developer SP Setia Bhd had had a meeting with residents to reiterate their commitment to building the 350-metre-long ramp. SP Setia deputy president and chief operating officer Datuk Voon Tin Yow had promised residents that the ramp would be built if MPSJ’s traffic study showed the need for one. The ramp has been proposed to take off from the service lanes along the LDP straight into the main entrance of the Setia Walk development. “The developer has already given his word to build the ramp, and studies show we need it. I hope the council will speed up the process and get the ramp built,” said MPSJ councillor Ng Sze Han during MPSJ’s full board meeting last Friday. MPSJ president Datuk Asmawi Kasbi said the council will contact the developer and get them to built the ramp as soon as possible.

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By Alvin Yap

MPS to top assessment collection in 2012
holds that have access to the internet and could benefit from signing up and using the e-Filing system. “Apart from paying bills from home, it also reduces the number of staff we need at counters,” Zainal said. MPS had been commended by the AG for reducing its arrears by setting up mobile counters for ratepayers to settle outstanding fees. Zainal said tax assessment revenue is spent on a host of public services in Selayang, ranging from construction and maintaining infrastructure to public cleaning and solidwaste collection and disposal. Earlier, he pointed out to the councillors and staff at a full board meeting that larger tax assessment revenue meant that that MPS could purchase more equipment, especially garbage trucks and other vehicles to maintain the infrastructure in its jurisdiction. “Trucks with compactors cost a lot, [in addition to] renting space at disposal sites. Maintaining the roads also costs money. We will have to do more to increase revenue collection for 2012,” he said. Zainal reminded property owners to settle their pay their assessment tax and other arrears, adding that MPS would be giving away goodies to ratepayers who pay on time.

DECEMbEr 30, 2011 — january 1, 2012

SELAYANG: The Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) is vowing to improve even further, despite its recent commendation from the Auditor General (AG). The council had received accolades for exemplary management of its operating expenditure in the AG’s annual report, but MPS President Datuk Zainal Abidin Aala came out to say MPS could top the assessment collections for 2012. “We can find ways to improve our collection,” he said during a press conference here on Wednesday. For one, he wants MPS to go all-out and persuade ratepayers to sign up and activate the e-Filing Tax Assessment Accounts. In order to increase revenue collection, MPS’s Information Technology (IT) department created an online payment system for ratepayers to pay their tax assessments, arrears and other municipal-related bills online. However, he described the response as “poor” as there are only 2,600 active users out of 6,000 approved applications that are currently using the payment system. He said MPS estimates that there some 100,000 house-

“For those who pay for the whole year, they receive an umbrella. Those who pay for half yearly get a pen,” he said. On a related matter, he congratulated the councillors and staff for MPS being awarded the four-star Accountability Award by Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim during a recent state event in Zainal Shah Alam. “We received the Rating Index on accountability, which shows we are efficient and transparent in administering MPS,” Zainal said. This followed the AG’s October report, which also singled out MPS’s efforts to rein in spending by scrutinising prices and quality of services and equipment from vendors.

Reduced rates for the disabled
SELAYANG: Some 36 disabled homeowners

will be the first to benefit from the 50% tax assessment rebate being offered by the Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) next year. “This is an initiative by MPS to reduce the burden of the disabled community in Selayang,” said MPS president Datuk Zainal Abidin Aala here on Wednesday. He said the move is part of the council’s corporate social responsibility efforts. “All 36 applicants have had their submissions approved,” he said during a press conference after the council’s full board meeting. The deadline to apply for the rebate next year has closed, but those who qualify can apply for rebates in 2013.

Applicants need to submit supporting documents for the programme, which is aimed at reducing the financial burden of handicapped groups in Selayang. Zainal said the rebates are only applicable to first properties that are self-owned by either individuals or spouses in a family. The applicant must be registered with the Welfare Ministry and possess an Invalid’s Card (Kad OKU), and must also earn less than RM1,500. Zainal said the applications will be vetted by his office and renewals must be carried out for it to be renewed by Dec 1 annually.

Illegal ads continue to plague Klang

MPK seizes karaoke equipment
KLANG: Karaoke equipment was seized from an unlicensed microphones and speakers.

trader who was making a nuisance of himself at the Klang Sentral bus terminal in Meru on Tuesday night. MPK enforcement deputy director Shahrul Hazri said the council had to act as many public complaints had been lodged against the trader. “One of the complaints was that the singing disrupted the peace in the area, especially during Ramadan (late August this year),” Shahrul told the press after MPK’s monthly full board meeting. When asked by the press, Shahrul was unsure of the total value of the confiscated equipment, which included

MPK licensing director Azhar Samsuddin said there are around 50 traders operating at Klang Sentral. The bus terminal is currently managed by private company NPO Management Sdn Bhd. Azhar said the management company owed MPK around RM61,000 in arrears. The council had given the company the option of repaying in installments. The relocation of the Klang central bus terminal from Klang town to Meru caused massive uproar in 2009 as the location was deemed too far out of town. MPK acting president Ikhsan Mukri said there are seven bus operators, mostly for long-distance journeys, operating from the bus terminal. Bus operators that transport passengers within the Klang Valley still prefer to use the old terminal in Klang town as it is considered a more strategic location.

Shahrul (left) destroying an advertisement by loan sharks during an operation on Monday.

By Chong Loo Wah KLANG: The Klang Municipal Council (MPK) is studying the possibility of using chemical solutions to efficiently remove thousands of illegal advertisements around town. MPK enforcement deputy director Shahrul Hazri Abd Majid said the council’s environmental services department has been instructed to study the feasibility of using chemical solutions. He said MPK removed close to 62,000 illegal advertising posters, banners and stickers from January to October, 2011. Among these, nearly one third – 19,320 – were put up by loan sharks. Shahrul said in one occasion, the loan

sharks immediately put up the advertisements after the enforcement officers removed them. “We arrested two of them and handed them over to the police,” he said. He added that the number of illegal advertisements usually increases during international football and festive seasons. The council had set up an eight-person enforcement team that goes out to remove illegal advertisements almost every other day. Shahrul said the illegal advertisements will be destroyed under by-laws 31 (1) Advertisement (MPK) 2007 if the owners do not come to reclaim them within a month. He said none have come forward to retrieve their advertisements in 2011.

Lord Bobo’s predictions for 2012
D
email ear Lord Bobo, as 2012 is almost upon us, can you look into your magic crystal ball and share some predictions for the coming year? Nostrildamus, via Obviously you have not been following this column for very long. Lord Bobo does not use a magic crystal ball. Who do you think we are? Mona Fandey? His Supreme Eminenceness does not rely on “magic” to make our predictions, and we certainly aren’t going to give you the kind of predictions we know you’re after (ie. winning 4D numbers and football results). But we will, in our munificence, offer you a glimpse into what could well happen in 2012. Malaysia will have its General Election. It will be a historic General Election, as it will be a manifestation of years and years of rakyat education and civil society discourse. For the first time, the mainstream media will be forced to tell both sides of the story (not 50-50, but at least it will not be an obvious bias). In line with what has been going on worldwide in 2011, the online media and communication channels will play an important, and perhaps crucial, role. As a result, politicians will be forced to consider and debate issues – REAL issues, bread-and-butter and nasi lemak and sambal sotong kinda issues, not mud-slinging sex-scandal, he-said-she-said-we-all-fall-down type of issues. Birds will fall from the sky. Water will flow upstream. Planets will loosen from their orbital shackles. And for the first time in a long time, Malaysia will deser vedly be called a participatory democracy. We know, we know. We know that you think the previous paragraph was an overly-optimistic collection of pure guff. But hey, remember where you read it first. After all, it was in this column in December 2010 that Lord Bobo revealed our prediction (well, it’s not really a prediction if we already knew it as fact) that the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 (“UUCA”) would be abolished. You scoffed then, didn’t you? We know, you’re thinking “But the UUCA isn’t abolished yet!” Oh ye of little faith. Wait and declare the supreme universal all-knowingness of Lord Bobo. 2012 will indeed be a year of change in Malaysia. For the first time in a long time, Malaysians will live their lives outside of a “state of Emergency”. It’s great that the government has finally realised that the Komunis aren’t hiding in the jungles anymore, and that the end of the Konfrontasi was not one of those false endings where you have to stay in your seats and wait for the cinema lights to come on or risk missing the out-takes. Hopefully this will

december 30, 2011 — JANUArY 1, 2012

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Ask Lord Bobo is a weekly column by LoyarBurok (www. loyarburok.com) where all your profound, abstruse, erudite, hermetic, recondite, sagacious, and other thaesaurus-described queries are answered!

Who’s a clever little future-seeing monkey, then?

continue, and the powers-that-be won’t find some excuse (the Uniqlo stores keep multiplying!) to put us all in the emergency lane again. We won’t share much more with you. After all, the excitement and enjoyment of life would be taken away if we let you know what exactly would happen in 2012. What Lord Bobo can say for sure is that the good people of LoyarBurok, UndiMsia! and their many comrades and friends in civil society will continue to work hard to ensure justice is done. We are not superheroes, we are just ordinary rakyat, doing our bit. As our friend Edmund once said, “All that is needed in order for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.” Join us. Don’t stop. It’s a lifestyle. And it’s fun. Happy 2012.

L

ord Bobo, wishing you a happy new year and hope you keep on sharing your wisdom with us every week in the coming year! Ask Lord Bobo Fanclub, via email Aw, that’s nice. Now let’s stop pretending that we don’t know that this email was sent by the Selangor Times editorial team, who are desperate for our continued contribution as the most-read column in this newspaper. No hastily set up asklordbobofanclub@gmail.com email address will fool us. His Supreme Eminenceness is, after all, omniscient.  In all seriousness though, it’s been a pleasure. Keep the questions coming! Even though we’re omniscient, we do like to receive emails or tweets.
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may 13 recoll: reconcections & 12 & iliation

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Wesak a time Day: giving for
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Where to get your
LRT Stations (Distribution by hand) – Morning Ampang – Sentul Timur Ampang Cahaya Cempaka Pandan Indah Pandan Jaya Sentul Timur Sentul Kelana Jaya – Terminal Putra Kelana Jaya Taman Bahagia Taman Paramount Asia Jaya Taman Jaya Universiti Sri Rampai Wangsa Maju Taman Melati Sri Petaling – Sentul Timur Taman Melati Sri Petaling Bukit Jalil Bandar Tasik Selatan Salak Selatan Shopping Malls (From Saturday noon) 1 UTAMA Tropicana Mall Sunway Pyramid The Curve IOI Mall Plaza Damas Ikano Power Centre Empire Subang MetroPoint Centro Mall, Klang Bangsar Shopping Complex Hypermarkets (From Saturday noon) Giant (Puchong, Kajang, Bandar Kinrara, Klang, Pandamaran, Bandar Selayang, Kota Damansara, Taman Setiawangsa, Putra Heights, Taman Connaught, Kelana Jaya, Bukit Antarabangsa, Subang Jaya, Bukit Tinggi, Setia Alam, Kota Kemuning) Sentul – Port Klang Port Klang Bukit Badak Shah Alam Subang Jaya Jalan Templer Petaling Rawang – Seremban Kuala Kubu Baru Sungai Buloh Kepong Sentral Kepong Morning Wet Markets (Saturday morning) Jalan SS2/62 Taman Medan Jalan 17/27 SS15 Subang Jaya Taman Kuchai Lama Taman OUG Pasar Taman Megah Pasar Jalan Othman Pasar Jalan 17/2 Pasar Sek 14

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Pasar Seri Setia SS9A/1 Pasar Kg Chempaka Taman Tun Dr Ismail Hospital Forrest Medical Centre Colleges Help Institute College Bandar Utama (KBU) Universiti Kebangsan Malaysia

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1 DEADLY LANDSLIDE
ixteen people, including 15 children and a caretaker, were killed by a landslide on May 21 at an unlicensed orphanage Hidayah Madrasah Al-Taqwa in Hulu Langat. The orphanage was later found to be built on agricultural land and located next to a hill with an 80-degree slope. The tragedy prompted the Selangor government to conduct a comprehensive survey to locate all unlicensed charity homes in its 12 municipalities. According to executive councillor Rodziah Ismail, only 81 of the 864 charity homes are officially registered and have the required licenses from authorities such as the Social Welfare Department and local governments. Selangor has since established a one-stop centre to help legalise the charity homes. Those located in high-risk areas were offered a nominal premium of RM1 to be relocated to safe and suitable state lands. The state offered Hidayah Madrasah Al-Taqwa to be relocated to a vacant land in Semenyih. In addition, Selangor allocated RM10 million to set up a Natural Disaster Relief Fund in July in the wake of the landslide. The state also set aside RM5 million for local authorities to create a hillslope and geological database to monitor high-risk areas systematically to prevent more deadly landslides. The database will include details of the slope owners, developers, development schemes and other relevant information. Six local authorities were instructed to form a hillslope division in their engineering departments too. These were the Petaling Jaya City Council and municipal councils in Subang Jaya, Kajang, Sepang, Selayang and the Hulu Selangor. Previously, the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) was the only local council with a hillslope division. It was set up after the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide in 2008 that claimed five lives.

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2 PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY BILL PASSED
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he Peaceful Assembly Bill was passed by Parliament despite objections by civil society and opposition lawmakers who staged a walkout on Nov 29. The bill restricts street protests at areas like dams, petrol stations, bridges, places of worship and schools and allows a fine of up to RM20,000 for protestors. About 1,000 members of the Malaysian Bar Council and the public held a protest against the bill outside of Parliament just hours before Dewan Rakyat passed it. The protestors said the bill curtailed their right to peaceful assembly and that Malaysia itself was founded on the back of public demonstrations.

RALLY FOR 3 BERSIH 2.0 REFORM ELECTORAL

bout 20,000 people marched on the streets of Kuala Lumpur to call for electoral reforms during the Bersih 2.0 rally on July 9. Bersih 2.0 presented eight demands including the use of indelible ink, reforming the postal ballot, and a minimum campaign period of 21 days. The police were condemned for their strong arm tactics in handling the protestors, which included the firing of anti-riot weapons into Tung Shin Hospital. The rally saw one death – former soldier Baharuddin Ahmad, 59 – while a total of 1,667 people, including 16 children, were arrested for “disturbing the peace” and taking part in an “illegal gathering”.

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RENEW 6 RM1,000 TOPROPERTIES LEASEHOLD

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o lighten the financial burden on leasehold property and Temporary Occupation of Land (TOL) licence owners, Selangor introduced the Private Residential Ownership Scheme in June. Under this scheme, residential property owners need only pay RM1,000 to secure land titles or renew their leases for 99 years, instead of the normal hefty premiums which could cost RM250,000 or more. Owners, however, must pay up the remaining premium at market rate when they dispose of their properties. This scheme is meant to help owners, especially settlers who have been holding TOL licences for decades, stay in their homes and not profit from the sale of their properties. Among those who have benefited from this scheme so far are 193 villages and terrace home owners in Petaling Jaya whose leasehold properties are expiring.

p
in 2011
Highlights of the year

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VILLAGE CHIEF ELECTIONS

elangor conducted three pilot village polls without the Election Commission’s assistance in July and August 2011. Villagers in Jenjarom, Pulau Ketam and Pandamaran were given the opportunity to elect their own village security and de velopment c omm itte e ( JKKK) chiefs for the first time. Incumbent Tan Cheng Hin won uncontested in Jenjarom, while in Pulau Ketam, incumbent Cha Keng Lee won in a straight fight. Meanwhile, sole woman candidate Low See Mee emerged as the winner in a six-corner contest in Pandamaran. Election watchdogs such as the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0), Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel) and the Coalition for Good Governance (CGG) lauded the village polls as a move in the right direction. The village polls is seen as a precursor to the restoration of local government elections in Selangor as Pakatan Rakyat had promised to reinstate local elections in their 2008 general election manifesto. Local government elections were suspended and later abolished by the Alliance government in 1965 due to the Confrontation – an undeclared war between Malaysia and Indonesia over Borneo from 1962 to 1966. It was not reinstated after the Confrontation.

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KHIR FOUND GUILTY, SENTENCED TO JAIL / LAND FLIP
n Dec 23, former Selangor Menteri Besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo was found guilty of abusing his position as a public servant to buy a bungalow and two plots of land at a discount of up to RM3 million in 2007. The Shah Alam High Court sentenced him to 12 months’ jail under Section 165 of the Penal Court and ordered that his bungalow at No 8 and 10, Jalan Suasa 7/1L in Shah Alam be forfeited. Justice Datuk Wira Mohtaruddin Baki said the defence had failed to raise reasonable doubt in the case. However, Khir, 46, was allowed a stay of execution pending his appeal and his bail of RM750,000 was maintained. He was charged for purchasing the land and bungalow at RM3.5 million from Ditamas Sdn Bhd, lower than the RM6.5 million price that Ditamas had paid for in 2004. The Sungai Panjang assemblyperson was alleged to have committed the offence at the Selangor Menteri Besar’s official residence at Jalan Permata 7/1, Section 7 Shah Alam on May 29, 2007. Elsewhere, millions in profit were made through questionable land deals in the solar valley Science Park 2, between opposition leader Datuk Satim Diman and a private developer. The 80 acres of land, which were allocated to the Selangor Agricultural Development Corporation (PKPS) by the state at no cost, were resold for over RM19.2 million. PKPS sold the land to Nikmat Inai Sdn Bhd, where Satim was a shareholder and director. But before the company had even completed payment to PKPS, the land was resold to the Selangor Development Corporation (PKNS). Nikmat Inai is estimated to have made at least RM12.7 million in profit.

8 JAIS RAIDS DUMC

group of officers from the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department ( JAIS) and the police raided the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) in Section 13 on Aug 3 during a thanksgiving dinner for social workers of a non-governmental organisation. JAIS maintained that it was to investigate allegations that Muslims were being proselytised to during the event, and said the raid was merely an “inspection”. Twelve participants were also detained for further questioning by the authorities. The incident required the palace to intervene and hold an audience with JAIS officials. Nobody was charged in the matter.

A

9
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EXPLOSION AT EMPIRE MALL SUBANG

ubang folk awoke to loud explosions at 3.45am on Sept 28 when a gas leak led to a blow-up at the Empire Shopping Gallery. The explosion left four people injured and several cars were also damaged. Mall operations were ceased, and residents of the adjacent Empire hotel and SOHO (small office, home office) units were evacuated. The explosion originated from a gas leak in a groundfloor restaurant, which resulted in an estimated RM10 million in damages. The mall was reopened on Nov 15 and now features a centralised gas sensor system, which automatically switches off the gas supply if a leak is detected.

7 SECOND DEATH ON MACC PREMISES
elangor Customs assistant director Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed, 56, was found dead at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) building on Jalan Cohcrane, Cheras on April 6. He is believed to have fallen from the third floor. Sarbani was among 62 customs officers picked up in March for alleged graft. On Sept 26, the Coroner’s Court delivered a verdict of misadventure and concluded that there were no elements of suicide, homicide or third party involvement in the death of Sarbaini. This is the second death involving a suspect at a MACC premises, after DAP political aide Teoh Beng Hock had also fallen to death from the its office in Shah Alam on July 16, 2009.

S

wners of some 150 cats were left in tears when their pets were left to starve and thirst during the Hari Raya holidays in September while under the care of a pet hotel here in the Klang Valley. Owners of the pet hotel, Petknode, who had charged each owner RM3.95 for food and boarding, had abandoned the cats over the long weekend. Some 15 cats died as a result of the neglect and the two owners have since fled. The incident generated public debate over the lack of stiffer fines, enforcement and lengthier jail terms for animal abusers.

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CAT-ASTROPHE AT PET HOTEL

VIEWS 14
Kthxbai!
Fahmi Fadzil

DECEMBER 30, 2011 — JANUARY 1, 2012

various statements, effectively saying: “I shall not be cowed!” July 7, 2011. The “mother”  of all marches in recent memory, when between 5,000 and 50,000 people (depending on which media you read) peacefully marched through the streets of Kuala Lumpur calling for eight key electoral reforms.  In the lead-up to that dramatic day – I, too, joined the fray – hundreds were arrested, the colour yellow was banned; calls for Ambiga Sreenevasan, its chairperson, to be stripped off her citizenship were made; molotov cocktails and machetes were “found”; silat practitioners were rallied (and later “disappeared”); and Malaysians of all colours and stripes – from filmmakers to housewives, businesspersons to lawyers – made a decision to march for what they believe is a better Malaysia.  What a day it was.  What a year it has been.  Here’s to a great 2012.
Bersih 2.0 march

Nov 29 and Dec 20, 2011 will be remembered in civil rights circles as days of infamy, when the Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011 were Revocation of the three Emergency passed by the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan declarations Negara respectively.  It was just a matter of time. These three This piece of law, which is the Federal declarations of Emergency – 1966 (Sarawak), Government’s attempt at legalising peaceful 1969, and 1977 (Kelantan) – for some reason assemblies, has been excoriated and berated or other have long overstayed their welcome.   by many, many parties, including the Bar Nurul Izzah Anwar (MP for Lembah Pan- Council, Suhakam, and Pakatan Rakyat potai) had in the March sitting of Parliament litical parties. Despite the public uproar, and attempted to push through a private member’s despite the Bar Council’s attempt at producbill, called the Emergency Revocation Act ing an alternate (and what it sees as a better) 2011, yet it was stopped by the speaker of the version of said bill, all protestations fell on Dewan Rakyat on technical grounds... only deaf ears.  to be later revived and reconstituted by the prime minister in his Sept 15 announcement.  Rise of the undergrads One of the pledges by Prime Minister Whatever the case may be, Malaysia is finally – and officially – at peace. And now Najib Razak on the eve of Hari Malaysia was comes the herculean task of rectifying/replac- to amend the controversial Universities and ing the over 60 pieces of law that were built University Colleges Act (UUCA) 1971, on the states of emergency (one of those laws, which many – including the academics residfor example, deals with the legal existence of ing in their towers of ivory – have clamoured Ikatan Relawan Rakyat Malaysia’s [Rela] 2.6 to have repealed. One of the final face-offs came on the day million members). 

Buka tutup buka tutup mata, dah habis satu tahun.”  That’s the saying I’ve come to be quite accustomed to. It basically means that the year had whizzed by as though we’d just opened and shut our eyes a few times.  And what a year it has been, no? From the epic floods in Thailand (and some parts of Malaysia) and the epic uprisings in the Middle East (with reservations for a similar experience here in Malaysia), to the epic financial and bureaucratic brinkmanship that is the European Union, 2011 has been a year of epic proportions.  If epic-ness scares us, there are enough bitesized experiences for us to chew on. Here, therefore, is my list of memorable moments or incidents (in no particular order of import) from the year that was: 

What a year!
Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011

The crowd on July 7. (Pic by Hafiz Noor Shams / Wiki commons)

the Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, held a roundtable discussion on Dec 18 for feedback on the proposed UUCA amendments. On that same day, some 500 undergraduates marched the streets of Kuala Lumpur calling for UUCA’s repeal.  Some might even recall a certain “taking down a banner” incident outside of PWTC.  We swiftly moo-ve along. There is no other way to discuss this scandal but to take the proverbial bull by its horns.  As we’ve all come to know, some RM250 million was apportioned to an Umno minister’s family for a cattle-raising project. Unfortunately, the 2010 Auditor-General’s report lambasted said project. Subsequently, the stench of misappropriation permeated the air, with revelations of the buying of plots of land, luxury condos in KL and Singapore, and who knows what else.  Clamourous calls for the minister linked to this project to resign seem to have fallen on deaf ears (yet again). Said minister had issued
National Feedlot Corporation

going the distance
Azmi ShArom

Hope Springs eternal
tremendous political clout, and there was never a significant “government in waiting”. Hence the problems they are facing with trying to reduce military involvement in government as they start this new phase in their country’s development. Here, we have had the fortunate experience of seeing someone else in power, albeit at the state level. The military has kept out of politics (and hopefully will stay so), and we cannot say that there is no alternative to BN. The last time I looked, Kedah, Penang, Selangor and Kelantan are still standing and prospering. Thus if BN loses Putrajaya, it wouldn’t be difficult to fill those wellpadded seats. Likewise if Pakatan forms the next government and they lose in the future. This brings me to the final lesson that we can learn from the Arab Spring. What matters is not who governs. What matters is the system of governance. It must be democratic, it must be just, and it must be trustworthy. Western commentators have been wringing their hands at the prospect of an Islamist government democratically elected in Egypt. So what if they are? If they are democratically elected then the wishes of the Egyptions must be respected. The key here is that it must be possible to elect them out. The same goes in Malaysia. Our democracy is pratically foetal in terms of maturity, and it must develop in order for us to fully enjoy the fruits of a system that respects our inherent dignity as human beings. It does not really matter who holds the reins of power as long as we the people can take those reins away from them. It feels like that is a long way away, but it does not need to be so. Who knows what 2012 will bring? Happy New Year.

THIS year, the most amazing political event to have occurred in the world could very arguably be the Arab Spring. Popular uprisings all over the Middle East have seen dictatorships fall like ten-pins in the centre of of a camel race. The process continues still. This phenomenon demolishes stereotypes like “Arabs don’t care about democracy”. There are also lessons to be learnt for the rest of us who live in authoritarian societies. And please, do not let the recent flurry of activities from Putrajaya fool you. We live in an authoritarian society. Attempts made by the ruling coalition to give themselves a more liberal face do not pass close examination. The Peaceful Assembly Act basically bestows upon us the “wonderful” right to gather in stadiums. The proposed amendments to the University and University Colleges Act simply does not Protesters in Al-Bayda, Libya, on July 22, 2011. understand at all the concept of student autonomy and freedom. Joining a political party at the age of 21 is not the be all and end all about student autonomy. And People only take to the streets in such numbers and with don’t get me started about the potential horrors that the re- such intensity and determination when they are suffering placement for the ISA is going to bring. greatly (usually from poverty), and when they feel they have However, I digress. My point is that although we may dif- no voice. As long as the election process can be trusted in this fer in degree, Malaysia, just like the Arab regimes brought country, then people will not feel the need to change governdown by revolution is authoritarian in nature, and there are ments through methods such as those used in Egypt. lessons to be learnt from the Middle East as to what to expect Which goes to show that it is of vital importance that our when a transition is made from an authoritarian regime to a electoral system is trustworthy. As such, significant reforms democratic society. had best be made before we go to the polls again. When the Arab Spring occurred, the Malaysian governAnother major difference between Malaysia and countries ment and mainstream media fell over themselves to say that like Egypt is that if the current government loses (I won’t use such a thing could not occur here. Strange as this may seem, the word “toppled”, because it sounds so harsh), there won’t I feel that I have to agree. But my agreement is conditional. be a power vacuum. In Egypt, the military has always had

SHAH ALAM: Solid waste contractors for the city will be reduced next month in a bid to streamline and improve waste management. The Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) is targeting to streamline the current 71 Want to report uncollected garbage or clogged drains in your community but unsure how and where to go to? contractors to 64 during a new round of open We’ve compile the local governments’ contact below for your convenience. tenders after the existing contracts cease at the end of the year. Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) Tel: 03-4296 8000; Toll-free: 1-800-22-8100 “There are locations in Shah Alam that, due Kuala Selangor District Council (MDKS) Garbage collection schedule: www.mpaj.gov.my/34 Tel: 03-3289 1439 to its smaller size or lower population, that do Website: www.mdks.gov.my not need their own contractor to cover the Hulu Selangor District Council (MDHS) Tel: 03-6064 1331 Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) area,” said MBSA mayor Datuk Mohd Jaafar SMS: Type “mdhs aduan (complaint details)” and send to 15888. To check Tel: 03-7954 2020 (24-hour hotline) / 03-7956 3544 (General) Mohd Atan after a Full Board meeting here on complaint status, type “mdhs semak (complaint reference number)” and SMS: Type “MBPJ ADUAN [complaint details]” and sent to 33213 Monday. send to 15888. Website: www.mbpj.gov.my Website: www.mdhs.gov.my Existing companies will have to tender for Sabak Bernam District Council (MDSB) new contracts and all bidders will have to Kajang Municipal Council (MPKj) Tel: 03-3224 1655 / 1000 demonstrate that they can run efficient and Tel: 03-8737 7899 / 1789 / 8343 / 8428 / 0171 / 4253 / 0112 / 1714 Website: www.mdsb.gov.my Toll-free: 1-800-88-6755 cost-effective operations. Website: www.mpkj.gov.my Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) Mohd Jaafar pointed out that the criteria Tel: 03-6126 5800 / 6120 4903 / 04 / 05 / 06 was a state directive to all local governments Klang Municipal Council (MPK) Website: www.mps.gov.my Garbage collection when hiring contractors and vendors. By Brenda Ch’ng North Klang: 016-2720406 (Kamachy); South Klang: 016-2506796 (Razif ) Sepang Municipal Council (MPSp) Contractors that were over-charging for Public cleaning (streets and drains) Tel: 03-8319 0200 / 0300 North Klang: 019-2245387 (Haji Nasirun); South Klang: 016-3824471(Loganathan) Website: www.mpsepang.gov.my their services and profiteering from local KAJANG: Playing the role of intermediGeneral: 03-3372 4820 / 6781 / 1-800-88-23826 (Toll-free) governments were being “weeded out”. Website: www.mpklang.gov.my Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) ary is but one of the skills Mazwan Johar has “I’m saddened to see contractors taking Tel: 03-5510 5811 (Hotline) / 5133 (General) had to acquire as a Kajang Municipal MBSA, sometimes charging as Kuala Langat District Council (MDKL) Website: www.mbsa.gov.my advantage of Tel: 03-3187 2825 (MPKj) councillor. much as 30 per cent extra for providing the SMS: Type “MDKL ADUAN <complaint details>” and send to 15888. Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) service the To check complaint status, type “MDKL SEMAK <complaint reference number>” Tel: 03-8026 3131 / 5637 6545 Mazwan has found himself smack into ratepayers,” he said. and send to 15888. Website: www.mpsj.gov.my The new middle of hawkers fighting for roadsidecontracts, which could be finalised Website: www.mdkl.gov.my as early as late December to early January, will space in Bandar Bukit Mahkota. run for two years. “At one point, it was so bad that they even is looking to save RM8 million Shah Alam started fighting and the police hadnextbe called in to stop its own solid waste on alternativewaste collection service. to year from managing them,” traded stand-by solid days. “There 16,” he said. we assumed control on Octis actually a twice-a-week collection schedule, but the some complaints of late-collection at Section Meanwhile, MBSA has been handling the Local governments were supposed to take U13, it. It’s and 9 and that rubbish says the three-term councillor. collection. These hawkers contributed to traffic snarls when motorists contractors are not followingSections 7irritatingthe Proton low-cost The to unite them by helpMBSA collection of household waste with minimal over solid wa stecollected only when I call MPKj,” he 27 but these were resolved The 43-year-old lawyer has managedsavings would be channelled topulled up to buy food. is mana g ement from flats at Section said. ing them form a hawkers’ union Corporate Social of negotia- (CSR)make“We wouldworse, have more time to plan, stalls posed acompany stopped their services quickly. delays were caused byappointafter three years Responsibility To disruption. liked to the location of the concessionaire Alam Florahopes rubbish collection will improve with the equipment matters He Sdn Bhd in January programmes. 2012, but the The tions. The union ensures that their interests are looked after. danger to pedestrians and residents whogarbage crossOct 15. MBSA will purchase two garbage trucks to train our staff on managing the had to on the busy ment of new contractors. breakdown but other contractors were on “We’ve legalised all of them and allocated trash compactors to runroads to get to them. but upon the State’s directive, “The that there were new contractors will take place in outfitted with a space for them its own collection duties Mohd Jaafar explained appointment of standby to pick up the slack.

Know Your Councillor: Mazwan Johar
By Alvin Yap

news MBSA to cull non-performers 15
december 30, 2011 — JANUArY 1, 2012

November 4 — 6, 2011

news 11

to trade. We have even worked out trading hours for them to Efforts by MPKj to issue summonses or confiscate goods March, so contractors who want to keep their jobs will have prevent future clashes,” he says. failed to deter them over the years. to perform well,” says Mazwan. Now, he calls the union representatives for meetings with “They would re-emerge again … it was a continuous battle Mazwan also plans to push for more public amenities like MPKj to deal with licences, schedules and areasatwhere they with them,” says Mazwan. schools, petrol stations, places of worship and clinics. COnDITIOnS the Palm KLANG: Music will soon herald the arrival of garbage trucks can and cannot trade. Now, the “unionised” licensed traders are expected to report The newly developedwill have advanceBandar Bukitout their trash. Springs Condominium in PJU here so residents township of notice to bring Mahkota 3/29, Section setting up stalls illegal traders to the council so that action can be taken im- and Bandar Seri Putera isbe played from 7am-7pm It has only two “The music will less then 10 years old. to notify residents Previously, up to 20 hawkers could be seen 13, are deplorawhenever the rubbish trucks this their indiscriminately around town. ble. mediately. schools and a clinic which opened are inyear. areas,” said Klang MuThis photo of the condonicipal Council (MPK) secretary Ikhsan Mukri (pix). “It was so hard to find a solution as was taken on nov 1.to they didn’t want Apart from hawkers, Mazwan also deals with frequent re“Even theThe novel idea was disclosed duringopen only recently, secondary school, which was the council’s Full Board minium move. They fought over the best spots at the collection area is Selangor Times contacted the Petaling Jaya Council meeting one and Rubbish to trade and played ports of irregular rubbish collection and illegal dumping. City only accepts formlast Friday.  two students,” he says. hide-and-seek with MPKj officers,” he all over the place and not Ever since the council took over rubbish further clarification on the He will be engaging developers and the relevant authori(MBPJ) on Wednesday for collection from matstrewn recalls. Ikhsan said MPK hopes the move will curb the public from put in pisang were especially Alam Flora, residentster. A MBPJ spokesperson said the city council was ties to push for the development of everywhere.  amenities Those selling nasi lemak or goring the proper containers. have been complaining about rubbish aware of dumping their household waste more public As a result, were around or not breeding ground the indiscriminate “This is one of our new methods (to deter illegal dumping) hard to catch as they either hid when officers the place has turned into a being collected for over a week. dumping of rubbish. here.

Rubbish woes

Musical garbage trucks

for flies, mosquitoes and rats. I am concerned for the cleanliness of the neighbourhood as I live next door at Opal Damansara Condominium.  I hope the authorities will do something about this matter immediately. Darren Lee 
By Brenda Ch’ng

MBPJ, however, said Palm Springs Condominium does not fall under its garbage collection route, as it only collects solid waste from low-cost flats. The spokesperson said concessionaire Alam Flora is responsible for collecting the garbage. “From what we know, there is a dispute between the Joint Management Board and Alam Flora.” He said the council will discuss the problem with the residents.

which we are excited to try out,” he said. The idea, which was presented earlier to local leaders, rubbish contractors and residents, was well received.  Currently, the council is still waiting to get copyright to the music which will then be edited to suit the local communities. Once that is dealt with, the council will move ahead with their “garbage and music” experiment.

tHe WHitHer money?
p

12 & 13

SUBANG JAYA: With 800 km of roads under their jurisdiction, the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) is hard pressed to maintain them with an annual allocation of RM5 million. “We have five zones with only RM1 million for each zone for road resurfacing and upgrading projects. This is not enough,” said the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) engineering department director Ismail Shafie on Thursday. Federal allocations are given to the state annually by the Malaysian Road Records Information System (MARRIS), who then channels it to all the 12 local councils. Thener amount is divided and distributed to all Gree et to weed budG MBSA nt the local councils, based on the number of roads for pj out erra ors p8 contract 1 they have in their jurisdiction.  p 1 Even so, the money allocated is not enough
ber Novem 1/ issu 4 — 6, 201 e 47

Insufficient funds for road upgrades
to even resurface a quarter of the 800 kilometers in  Seri Kembangan, Puchong, Subang Jaya, Sri Serdang and Kinrara. Ismail hopes the state will re-evaluate and allocate more money to the council.  MPSJ currently gets numerous requests from residents asking for their roads to be resurfaced.  “Some areas are really bad, especially at housing and commercial areas where there is a heavy flow of traffic,” said Ismail. He added that almost all roads in MPSJ has not been resurfaced in over two decades. “It is time for those roads to be resurfaced. But with only a limited budget, we are left with no choice but to choose and prioritise the urgent ones first on the repair list,” he said.
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For example, MPSJ could only resurface eight kilometers of road at Subang, with the RM1 million budget this year. Among roads which were resurfaced are Jalan PJS7/15 at the morning market, Jalan PJS9/3, Jalan SS18/1B, Jalan Subang 4, Jalan Persiaran Tujuan leading out to Persiaran Kewajipan and Jalan Persiaran Subang. On top of that, MPSJ has drawn extra parking boxes for busy commercial areas along Jalan SS18/1B (63 new car parks), Jalan USJ9/3F (18), Jalan PJS7/15 (38) and SS13 (10 opposite the Buddhist Temple). “These projects were done in phases throughout the year and it cost us about RM787,770,” said Ismail. The left over money will be used to resurface
WH mo itHer ney tH e ?

two roads in USJ9, and it is expected to be completed by the end of the year. “All these roads were identified via site visits done with the engineering department and we prioritise the roads which are in the worst condition,” said Subang Jaya assemblyperson Hannah Yeoh. She said the demand for road resurfacing is increasing everyday and the RM1 million allocation is no longer enough to cater to the needs of residents. Yeoh said she gets frequent complaints at her service centre about roads which are littered with potholes and water ponding. “The other roads will be identified and resurfaced next year when the new budget is in,” she said.

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news 16

december 30, 2011 — JANUArY 1, 2012

Fewer floods in Klang following drain upgrades

Fundraising dinner for Stop Lynas campaign
SHAH ALAM: The anti-Lynas coalition is organising fundraising dinners nationwide to raise RM300,000 to initiate a legal suit against the rare earth refinery and government agencies. The first dinner will be held at the Shah Alam Convention Centre on Jan 7, 2012 (Saturday) from 8pm to 11pm, said Stop Lynas Coalition chairperson Andansura Rabu. He said the coalition plans to sue Lynas Corp and government agencies including the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB), and Malaysian Nuclear Agency, among others. “With so many defendants, this legal [suit] will be fairly expensive. We seek [the public’s] help for the lawsuit by supporting the dinner,” said Andansura. Selangor executive councillor Elizabeth Wong, whose portfolio includes the environment, said the state endorses the dinner, and Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim would attend the event. Kelantan Menteri Besar and PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat, PAS president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang, PKR deputy president Azmin Ali have also pledged to show support at the dinner. The Lynas rare earth refinery in Gebeng, Pahang is expected to be completed by next year, but the Australian company has yet to obtain a preoperating license from the AELB. As the refinery is only located 25km from Kuantan, residents have protested against the plant since 2009 amidst fear of radiation pollution and other public health and environmental concerns. In the 1980s, radiation leakage from the Asian Rare Earth refinery in Bukit Merah, Perak was linked to eight leukaemia cases and high blood lead level among residents. Two decades after the Bukit Merah plant’s closure in 1992, Mitsubishi Chemicals is still spending millions to clean up the radioactive waste. AELB has rejected Lynas’s permanent waste management plan three times, and is now reviewing the firm’s fourth submission. Minimum donation for the fundraising dinner is RM200 per person or RM2,000 per table. Contact Soo Jin Hou at soojinhou@yahoo.com or 016-9841588 for more information. The public can also call Wong’s office at 03-55447760.

By Gan Pei Ling

PORT KLANG: Floods in seven neighbouring residential areas in Klang have been successfully reduced by 60% in the past three months, said Klang’s Flood Mitigation Action Committee. Its spokesperson, K Yogasigamany, thanked the Klang Municipal Council (MPK) and Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) for adopting the committee’s suggestion to widen and deepen existing drains in the seven neighbourhoods. “Despite heavy rains during the past three to four months, there are [fewer] flood incidents and complaints,” Yogasigamany told the press on Wednesday. He said the seven neighbourhoods – Taman Selatan, Taman Chi Liung, Taman Petaling, Taman Palm Grove, Taman Radzi, Taman Bayu Perdana and Taman Bayumas – would usually be flooded if it rained for more than half an hour. However, Yogasigamany said the widening and deepening of drains is only a short-term measure to mitigate floods. “A water retention pond is needed if we want to solve the problem in the long term,” said the Klang Jaya resident.  The flood mitigation action committee comprises six main members with backgrounds in engineering and flood mitigation, along with a number of volunteers. MPK councillor Yew Boon Lye, who was present at the press conference, said the local council had proposed that RM50 million from the state be used to upgrade the drainage system in southern Klang. But MPK has yet to receive the green light from the state. Meanwhile, Klang Member of Parliament Charles

The drain in Taman Radzi that was originally three feet wide and five feet deep has been cleared and enlarged to accommodate larger volumes of rainwater.

Santiago urged members of the public to stop throwing garbage into drains, which exacerbates flood problems. “Once I found furniture such as chairs, and a vase which still contained flowers, being disposed in drains,” said Santiago. He added that restaurant operators and industrial players must also be responsible and avoid dumping their waste into drains.

Green homeowners rewarded
By Brenda Ch’ng

PETALING JAYA: Forty-nine “green” homeowners here were awarded with tax rebates by the council recently for incorporating energy-efficient and environmentally friendly practices in their homes. Residents were awarded up to RM500 rebate in their annual assessment by Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) mayor Datuk Roslan Sakiman for practising a green lifestyle. “I”m glad to get a rebate of RM500. I pay RM600 every year, and this year I only have to pay a small sum,” said resident Liu Paye Wah. The 56-year-old said she has been actively following a green lifestyle for three years now, and aims to continue her efforts in the coming years. Her house in Damansara Jaya is equipped with a solar heater, compost equipment, and many plants in her backyard. “I love recycling and making organic enzymes to fertilise my plants,” she said. The rebate scheme is part of MBPJ’s move to promote eco-friendly houses in Petaling Jaya. All residents have to do is register with MBPJ to be part of this scheme, and the council’s Green Building team will assess if the houses are qualified for the rebate. Points will be awarded to them based on the number of environmentally friendly methods they practise. For example, if homeowners have solar panels installed, a certain number of points will be awarded. If they have a rainwater harvesting system as well,

more points will be added. The total number of points will determine the amount of tax rebate received by each participant. Meanwhile, the council also launched their new green initiatives – three months’ free parking for hybrid-car owners, and online tax payment scheme. “We want to encourage the public to go green by using our online tax payment site instead of receiving bills every year,” said Lee Lih Shyan, who is in charge of the scheme. He said lots of paper will be saved through online transactions every year. The public is urged to fill MBPJ mayor congratulating residents who got the rebate. in the form, available online and at MBPJ, to stop tax bills from being sent to their homes. Also, owners of hybrid cars purchased in Petaling Jaya between Oct 28 this year until the end of next year are encouraged to apply for the three-month free parking pass. “This scheme is not limited to residents only. It’s open to anyone who purchased the vehicle from any car dealer in MBPJ,” said Lee. Liu showing off her Both schemes were launched by Roslan on Dec RM500 tax rebate. 21.

SELANGOR TIMES ⁄ December 30, 2011 – January 1, 2012 ⁄ 17

Season’s Greetings
HAPPY NEW YEAR
Selamat Menyambut Tahun Baru
with Best Compliments From YAB TAN SRI DATO’ SERI ABDUL KHALID IBRAHIM

Dato’ Menteri Besar Selangor and Selangor State Government

18

news/fiction
DECEMbEr 30, 2011 — january 1, 2012

Engines off, PJ folks!
By Gan Pei Ling SHAH ALAM: Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) staff and the public will have to switch off their car engines on three more council premises starting from Jan 1 to reduce the city’s carbon emission. The city council has added Menara MBPJ, its community library in PJ Old Town, and the Landscape Department and workshop in Kelana Jaya to its No Engine Running While Waiting Zone. On Oct 15, the city council had declared its headquarters on Jalan Yong Shook Lin, including the Civic Centre, as the first No Engine Running While Waiting Zone. MBPJ public relations department said in a statement on Wednesday that drivers who leave their engine on at the designated zones would be requested to switch if off or leave the premises. “We hope MBPJ staff and visitors will support the campaign and help make PJ become a low-carbon city,” advised the city council in its statement. It said a stationary car with its engine on for 10 minutes would generate around 208g of carbon dioxide – one of the causes of global warming. MBPJ will put up signboards and distribute leaflets to inform the public about its campaign and its aim to reduce the 1,565 tonnes of carbon dioxide the city emits annually. Apart from this campaign, the city council has introduced a pilot assessment tax rebate scheme for eco-friendly home owners, and a Green Figure Award to reward citizens who contribute towards sustainable development. It is also promoting green building concepts and has allocated RM100,000 to install energy-efficient Light-Emitting Diode (LED) streetlights in back alleys.

Countdown to 2012 in Serdang
SERDANG: Serdang folks

are invited to an annual countdown celebration at Jalan SK 6/1, Seri Kembangan New Village on New Year’s Eve, said Seri Kembangan assemblyperson Ean Yong Hian Wah (pic). He said a talent show for girls aged 18 and above will be held on the same night from 7pm. Participants can showcase their talents by singing , dancing or playing musical instruments. “Surrounding roads will be closed in anticipation of the event. We apologise ahead for any inconvenience caused,” the executive councillor told the press last Saturday. He said this after distributing calendars to the public at the Seri Kembangan morning market. Ean Yong and Serdang Member of Parliament Teo Nie Ching will also sing a song on the night to entertain audience. Ean Yong said previous celebrations have attracted around 5,000 people. For more information about the countdown or talent contest, contact Subang Jaya municipal councillor Tai Cheng Hing at 016-2123960.

New Year
Fiction by Rumaizah Abu Bakar

MY guard duty ends at 5.30am on Jan 1. I get out of my army uniform and into my jeans and t-shirt as fast as I can. I grab my wallet and mobile phone and rush out. My stomach growls as I think about my mother’s lontong waiting for me at home.  As I pass by the row of flats, I spot empty cans and confetti on the street, remains from the night’s celebration. These are the last things I want to see. Then, I feel someone grabbing my left arm. It is a girl in a spaghetti-strap top, unzipped sweater and white shorts. She reminds me of the pretty Chinese teenage masseuse who offered me “special services” with her hour-long massage recently – friends’ treat for my 21st birthday.    I look at the girl, who has tears streaming down her face. Her grip tightens and I have to pull hard to release my hand. “Can you help me?” she speaks in between sobs. “Can you call the police?” My heartbeat quickens. I notice the bruises on her arms.  She pulls my arm again. “Can you help me? Can you call the police?” “What has happened?” She points towards the bus stop and says, “That man took my mobile phone.”   I turn to look at where she is pointing and see the back of a head behind a pillar. I calmly walk towards the figure as she tiptoes behind me. A year ago, I would not have dared such a confrontation, but seven months of national service have done wonders. The tough physical training has turned out to be useful. My muscles have developed and I have increased my speed. My confidence has grown, too. Sometimes, though, I wish it does not take up so much time. That double-shift guard duty on New Year’s Eve was the worst torture.   I do not even have time for girls now. It has been a year since I broke up with Alice, the girlfriend of my polytechnic years. The last I heard, she has already found someone else. It is time that I move on, too.  I stop when I see a young man in a white t-shirt and Bermudas leaning against the pillar. He seems startled to see me. “That’s him! He took my phone!” the girl screams. He taps his neck with index finger. “She ripped my chain. She has taken my locket!”

I look down at his feet. There is no sign of a broken chain. “Give the handphone back to her!” My voice sounds forceful enough to me. “Not until she returns my locket.” “I didn’t take his locket! He is lying!” I try again. “Hey man, give the phone back to her!” “Can you call the police? Please call the police.” The girl sobs and tugs my arm. I look at her and then back at him. I stare into his eyes and say, “I am the police!” He jerks his head up, I notice a slight shiver. “Now, give her phone back. Or…” He takes out a slim phone with a silver casing and reluctantly hands it to me. I reach for it and give it to her. “Where do you live?” I ask her. “My flat is just a few blocks away.” She slips the phone into the pocket of her sweater. “Let me walk you back.” She nods and wipes her tears with the back of her hand. The man does not move. He seems stunned.  

A few minutes later, we arrive at her flat and she unlocks the door. She steps in and turns around to face me. “Happy New Year,” I say. “Happy New Year,” she replies. “I’m Muhamad. What’s your name?” “Alice.” She smiles at me before shutting the door. “Alice,” I repeat. I note the unit number on the wall. 33. I smile, imagining a date with her on my next day off. Maybe this will be the beginning of a great year.   When I reach the bus stop, the man is still there, leaning against the pillar. A defeated look on his face, his sadness hangs in the air. He stares ahead emptily. It is as if he does not see me. I feel sorry for him.   The bus arrives. I call out to the guy, “Hey, man!” Noticing me then, he slowly turns. “Are you not getting on this bus?” He shakes his head. The emptiness in his eyes lingers. “There’s no better time to start over, man. It’s the new year!” I salute him before climbing up the stairs. I doubt he heard me.

Countdown to 2012 in Mutiara Damansara
PETALING JAYA: Mutiara Damansara Commercial Centre (MDCC), which is made up of e@Curve, IPC (formerly known as Ikano Power Centre), and The Curve, will be throwing a spectacular New Year’s Eve party with a full night of entertainment in the works. Joey G of Channel V fame and renowned international model Fay Hokulani will host the party, which will feature performances by Jaclyn Victor, R&B singer Reshmonu, female pop group Senoritas, hip-hop act Altimet, urban contemporary artiste James Baum, dance troupes Wakaka Crew and Floor Fever, DJ Nadine Ann Thomas, and entertainer Russell Curtis. A fireworks display will welcome 2012 at the stroke of midnight. Members of the public are invited to come to MDCC from 8pm till midnight on Dec 31 to usher in the New Year. Azizul Hisham Ahmad, centre manager of e@Curve, said: “We are extremely delighted to be a part of this year’s celebration. MDCC continues to offer bigger and better experiences for our patrons, and we welcome all our visitors to this year’s New Year’s Eve Party to usher in 2012 together.”  “Each year, we look forward to collaborating with our Mutiara Damansara neig hbours as we usher in the New Year,” added Evelyn Tan, centre manager for IPC. “We are excited to bring shoppers our annual street party and welcome 2012 with a blast.” To accommodate the New Year’s Eve party, the main road between The Curve Partygoers ringing in the new year. and IPC, Jalan PJU 7/2, will be closed from 11pm on Dec 29, 2011 to 8am on January 01, 2012. Detour signage and traffic police will be available to help redirect traffic on Saturday, Dec 31. Visitors to Mutiara Damansara can still access e@Curve, IPC and The Curve’s car parks via four alternative routes: From Persiaran Surian, turn right after Surian Tower onto Jalan PJU 7/1. Continue along Jalan PJU 7/1, turn right onto

december 30, 2011 — JANUArY 1, 2012

media 19

Magnificent fireworks display at the MDCC New Year’s Eve countdown.

Jalan PJU 7/4 and turn right again at Jalan PJU 7/2. Turn left to access IPC’s car park. Turn right to access The Curve’s car park. Alternatively, make a u-turn at the intersection of Jalan PJU 7/4 onto Jalan PJU 7/3 and continue along Jalan PJU 7/3. Turn left into The Curve’s car park. From Persiaran Surian, make a u-turn at the intersection of Jalan PJU 7/1, turn left onto Jalan PJU 7/2, take the first left and make a u-turn at the roundabout. Turn left into e@Curve’s and The Curve’s car parks. From Lebuhraya DamansaraPuchong (LDP), continue straight towards Kepong toll and exit left at Damansara Perdana. Keep left at the junction to continue towards Jalan PJU 7/5. Continue along Jalan PJU 7/5. Turn right onto Jalan PJU 7/4 and turn left onto Jalan PJU 7/2. Turn left into IPC’s car park. Turn right into The Curve’s car park. For more information, contact the Customer Care Officers at 03-77106868 for The Curve, 03-77207333 for IPC Shopping Centre, and 03-77250277 for e@Curve.  

Sunway spreads Christmas cheer at property show
million in sales generated during the threeday event held at Sunway Pyramid, Blue Concourse from Dec 16-18. On display were residential and commercial properties such as Sunway Nexis Soho and Sunway Rymba Hills at Sunway Damansara; Sunway Velocity Service Apartment in Kuala Lumpur; Sunway 27 Square and Sunway Alam Suria in Shah Alam; Sunway Vivaldi at Mont Kiara; Sunway Montana and Sunway Rydgeway at Melawati; A’marine, BayRocks and LaCosta at Sunway South Quay Bandar Sunway; and MontBleu ResiParents and children were enlivened by special appearances of dence in Ipoh. Home seekers and investors were espe- Santa Claus and Santarinas with their Christmas goodies. cially pleased with Sunway Integrated Properties’ offer of a low RM10,000 down payment and DevelDuring the show, the public was entertained by jovial oper Interest Bearing Scheme for selected projects, in addi- Christmas carollers, while Santa and Santarinas handed out tion to many other attractive packages. goodies to parents and children.

Christmas carollers entertained the visitors during the event.

PETALING JAYA: Sunway Integrated Properties Show 2011 – Christmas Edition gained overwhelming response from home buyers and property investors, with over RM30

food 20

December 30, 2011 — January 1, 2012

Pasta ala olio with mushrooms.

By Brenda Ch'ng

S

atisfy your hankering for a wide range of western food and a relaxing night out at In Out Café, tucked on the ground floor corner of a commercial block behind Klang Parade. Upon entering, what surprised us was the full house despite the café being sandwiched in the middle of a row of office shop lots. Amid the chatter among friends and family, we ordered the restaurant’s finest. First out of the kitchen was the pasta ala olio with mushrooms, wellseasoned with black pepper, garlic, paprika and chopped dried chilli. The dish was well-spiced, tantalising your tastebuds with the garlic garnish and piquant sauce drizzling over the spaghetti noodle. This was definitely an appetising dish which left us craving for more. Due to its dry nature, we didn’t feel full as there wasn’t an overindulgence of rich cream sauce found in carbonara or tomato paste in bolognaise. For those wanting a change from the normal mundane order of creamy pasta, this is a definite must-try. Next up was the pan fried chicken breast with mushroom and melted cheese, which was served in a tiny oval lasagna dish, accompanied by fresh garden greens and potato salad buried under. We sliced into the piping hot dish and was treated to string y mozzarella cheese binding the mushrooms and meat together. mains, we agreed that the side A mouthful of the tender juicy dishes were well presented. meat left us feeling sinful as we If eaten together, the knew we wouldn’t be satisfied until juicy meat gives additional the last bits of melted cheese was flavour to the potato salad, scraped off. making it an interesting We recommend the potato salad mouthful indeed. be eaten first before the mains as the As we were almost done well-seasoned meat and cheesy digging up the cheese, out came goodness will cover up the mild the Southern fried chicken with taste of the potato salad. escargot sauce, also served with Though the flavour from the g arden g re ens and g enerous potato salad wasn’t as yummy as the amounts of potato salad.
Southern fried chicken with escargot sauce.

Know the ins and outs of this café
Appetiser platter: an assortment of meat.

Pan fried chicken breast with mushroom and melted cheese.

Chicken rollet with ham and shrimp.

What attracted us to order the dish was the urge to try out their escargot sauce. Escargot, which is a popular French appetiser, consists of land snails that are often cooked to suit adventurous people with diverse tastes. Intrigued to taste the sauce, we dipped our knives into the small bowl without bothering to glaze it onto the chicken. What we savoured was hard to describe as it tasted like cheesebaked oysters. The rich orang y creamy texture definitely sit well with cheese and cream-sauce lovers

as the dip was a mixture of both. Next, we moved on to tasting the well-fried meat, which was crispy and brown on the outside and tender on the inside. The chicken itself didn’t really have much flavour to it, so feel free to dip the whole chunk into the escargot sauce before eating it. For those who want to try how seafood and chicken taste like together, here’s your chance! Finally our last order, the chicken rollet with ham and shrimp, was served with a small shot glass of melted butter and cheese.

This was an interesting dish indeed, as the chicken was pounded until flat and wrapped around slices of ham and diced shrimp in the innermost layer. It tasted even better than it looked, and the meat wasn’t dry. Also, our worries about the weird combination of flavours were erased as soon as we took our first bite. It’s optional to drizzle the cheese sauce as we thought it tasted fine without the extra saltiness of the butter. However, for those cheese lovers out there, feel free to top the meat with the yellow sauce. To have a taste of these delectable dishes, head on down to M3-24-26, Sri Pelangi, Jalan Pekan Baru 39, 41050 Klang. Business hours are Tuesdays-Sundays from 11am to midnight. It is closed on Mondays. For reser vations, ca ll 0333445934.

December 30, 2011 — January 1, 2012

food 21

Thai food lovers need no strong persuasion to seek out new and exciting eateries. LIN ZHENYUAN checks out a seemingly quiet place located among some flats in Section 17, PJ
nybody who knows Section 17 in Petaling Jaya is aware that the area is home to Universiti Islam Antarabangsa, University Malaya, The Otomotif College, Utar (University Tunku Abdul Rahman) and University Hospital. Its boundaries also touch shopping malls like Tropicana City Mall, Jaya One and Jaya 33. What is less known is that is that it is home to some of better and quieter eateries that are frequented by diners who like their evenings uninterrupted by noise, heavy traffic and unruly crowds. The A-list restaurants in Section 17 are sometimes located in places that one would not give a second glance. My Elephant is among these culinary venues. It has been operating for about four years. Word has gone around among some PJ residents and office workers that this Thai restaurant serves some of the most authentic dishes within a three-kilometre radius. One night recently, a member of the family decided we should eat out. To make sure we did not have any unpleasant surprises, a reservation was made over the phone. It was Tuesday night, and a few of us laughed when we heard about the restaurant booking: “Who is going to show up on a Tuesday night after work?” Anyway, we made our way to Happy Mansion in Jalan 17/13. Upon arrival, we found the two blocks of flats rather quiet. I had my doubts about the popularity of My Elephant because there was nary a soul in sight as my car weaved its way through the narrow confines of the flats. Suddenly, a tiny sign peeked at us from a distance. There it was, My Elephant in all its understated status. As we walked in, it dawned The Thai special omelette that comes with fish on us that the restaurant was alotak-otak. ready full. It was just 8pm. Its interior is not big. It has only bulbs. It did cross my mind that Miaeng Kum and Popiah Tod were about 15 tables, but the atmo- perhaps the restaurant could arresting. That was because I ususphere was sufficiently warm and brighten up a bit. I am one of those ally left it to the Thai-food connoiswho like to see what goes into my seurs to handle the selections. comfortable for its guests. On this occasion, since each of Our “seats” were a couple of ce- mouth. But the diners on that evening us had to pick an item, I pointed ment slabs next to a tiny aquarium adjoining the glass panel which seemed to be a jovial lot. They ex- my finger to “khai jiao ho mok”, exposes the adjacent back entrance hibited a familiarity born of regular which was a Thai concoction of to the parallel block of flats. Resi- attendance. Someone told me that special omelette with fish otakdents had parked their motorcycles food bloggers have been discreetly otak. The rest of our orders were myhaphazardly behind the restaurant promoting this Thai restaurant, Elephant’s Platter, Som Tam Malajust outside the restaurant kitchen. much to the joy of its owners. A quick glance at the menu re- kor, green chicken curry, and Tom The first impression of My Elephant was rather dimmed. That was vealed that there were a couple of Sab Goong Phow. Som Tam Malakor is a mixture exactly what the level of lighting “Thai teasers” that I wasn’t familiar was, due to low wattage of the tiny with. Names like Tod Man Plah, of hand-pounded green papaya

A

This Elephant walks the talk
The green chicken curry proves to be quite tasty and filling. Tom Sab Goong Phow may look mild but it actually packs quite a punch.

with peanuts and dry prawns. This dish is a favourite among slimmers or those who aspire towards achieving such a goal. Tom Sab Goong Phow is a spicy soup heavily laden with grilled prawns and herbs. Since I like my dishes spicy and soupy, that particular item was a strong favourite of mine. The myElephant’s Platter when it appeared was a visual delight. It was a colourful combination of Popiah Tod, Tod Man Plah, prawn

A tableful of Thai culinary goodies makes it a memorable evening.

The combination of multiple edibles in myElephant’s Platter makes it special.

wantan and fresh popiah. There were enough portions for all four of us at the table. My verdict was that My Elephant restaurant is worth a second and third visit. One encounter with this restaurant is insufficient to pass fair judgment on its seemingly extensive menu. The management of My Elephant is quite proud of its chef, Nikom, who hails from the northernmost city of Chiang Rai. Apparently, the chef with the Midas’ Touch in the kitchen has drawn superlatives from Thai food lovers who have dined at My Elephant. I add my personal endorsement to the excellence of the Thai dishes we had chosen. My Elephant opens from Tuesday to Sunday. Opening hours are from noon to 2pm (lunch) and 6pm to 10pm (dinner). Reservations can be made by calling 0102201283. There is another outlet in Sri Hartamas, which can be contacted at 03-62010649.

Gallery 22

December 30, 2011 — January 1, 2012

Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) mayor Datuk Roslan Sakiman launching the council’s new online tax payment website on Dec 21. The initiative was undertaken by the council in its efforts to go “green” by encouraging taxpayers to unsubscribe from paper bills.

Seri Kembangan assemblyperson Ean Yong Hian Wah distributing calendars to traders and shoppers at the Seri Kembangan morning market last Saturday.

Residents protesting on Dec 26 against Tenaga Nasional Bhd’s high-tension cable project, which will pass through 14 neighbourhoods in Cheras.

Executive councillor Elizabeth Wong (second left) leading 250 cyclists in a bike ride to promote Kuala Kubu Bharu on Monday. The state is allocating RM800,000 for the town to build the first bike lane in Selangor to promote low-carbon travel.

Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) president Datuk Asmawi Kasbi explaining the road changes around Subang Parade and Empire Gallery in SS16 that will take place from Jan 15, while Subang Jaya assemblyperson Hannah Yeoh and MPSJ officers look on.

December 30, 2011 — January 1, 2012

Culture 23
Compiled by Nick Choo Send your events to: editor@selangortimes.com

caLenDar
Architecture Without Paper
Exhibition; until 2 Jan; Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre; 03-40479000, www.klpac.org,

A selection, in audiovisual format, from Spanish architectural projects presented at the Venice International Architecture Exhibitions, curated by the architects Soledad del Pino and Angel Fernandez Alba. This exhibition aims to show the innovation and quality of the work being carried out on the Spanish scene today, represented by 15 young architecture studios that typify a fully consolidated, global “virtual architectural reality”. Their projects put the spotlight on a fresh, avant-garde architecture, one that serves the sensibilities and needs of society. Presented by the Embassy of Spain.

Malaysian Girls ending with flourish and flair.

The White Bat
Dance; 7 & 8 Jan; Istana Budaya; 03-40265555, www.tickets2u.biz; RM50 to RM220
“Bella is a repressed housewife, Jonathan is an ambitious architect – and the Bat is the hidden nature of us, moving amongst the shadows and manifesting in the night.” With choreography by Jie Choong Wan-Chin, and music by Johann Strauss. Presented by Danceworks.

reVIeW
By Dominic Luk

MALAYSIAN Girls – The Year’s Most Glamorous Musical had its world premiere on Dec 10 at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac). The production is led by an award-winning team, directed by Joe Hasham and Kimmy Kiew, and produced by Faridah Merican. The team comprises Lakshman Balakrishnan (choreographer), Kelvin Wong (improvisation facilitator), Mark Beau de Silva (playwright), Christopher Ling (stage craft), Dominique Devorsine (costume designer), Melissa Teoh (set designer), and Mervyn Peters (musical director). As I entered Pentas 1 at KLPac for the show, the stage caught my attention. It was sort of like being at a real beauty pageant: a wide staircase from the middle of the dual-level stage with a runway leading towards the audience. The opening began with a funeral scene where everyone had gathered to mourn the demise of Samsara Jaya, who, together with Serenity Billion (Tabitha Kong), had created a legacy of Malaysian beauty queens. As the story unfolds, we learn that two camps are against each other. Serenity Billion wants the pageant to remain as it always has been after Samsara Jaya’s death. However, the long-lost brother of Samsara, Ray Sanjay (played by Aanantha) and his personal assistant, Jasmin Hibiscus (played by Siti Farrah Abdullah), want to slyly implement their own personal agendas in the pageant. Ray and Jasmin later seek the help of Australian beauty queen Sydney Belle (played by Zoe Taylor) to educate the pageant girls and make them into better ladies. It was an entertaining musical with glitz and Malaysian humour, featuring Malaysian girls in flashy gowns (beautifully designed by Devorsine) and their drama-queen attitudes. The songs in the musical consist of a blend of styles written by various Malaysian songwriters: Khairil M Bahar, Ian Chow, Ariff Akhir, Wani Ardy, and Min’z. Some of the catchier tunes from the musical include If Your Mama Ain’t White (Ariff), Beautiful To Me (Min’z) and How Ugly Can It Get? (Ariff and Chow). It is always great to see local songwriters working together. The music was, in general, well written and arranged nicely; what was

More pretty than ugly
lacking was an overall musical theme, a characteristic found in most musicals. Every song seemed isolated with no relevance to one another. Apart from the heartwarming solos, it would have been better to have arguments through song and more dialogue being sung, to provide musical variety to the production as a whole. The vocal work from the ensemble was delightful, although it could have done with more energy and even dynamics. It felt like every chorus was without any proper vocal direction and characterisation. Overall, the libretto could have been improved. The spoken dialogue dragged on a bit too long at times and did not always successfully reach me on an emotional level. On the other hand, the script was very Malaysian, which made the show easy to relate to. There was certainly a very 1Malaysia feel to everything each character said, even Sydney Belle. Abdullah stole the show with her performance as Jasmin, the PA who has her own ulterior motives in taking control over the pageant. Abdullah kept herself in character all the time and was convincing in her expressions and physical movements. She was the only character that I felt a strong connection with. I foresee many other larger roles being given to her in the future after her formidable performance in Malaysian Girls. The lead role (Serenity Billion) seemed like a rather feeble character and did not manage to gravitate any energy towards her, considering the fact that she was the one to save the pageant from crumbling down. It felt as though there was a lack of authority in Kong’s performance of this role. However, there were some strong vocal moments by Kong in the second act, which I would have liked to have seen more during the first half. Sadly, I had no sympathy towards Serenity and had no emotions invested in this character. It was fun to watch the upbeat choreography as the girls walked through the runway and danced to songs like Jaiho and Born This Way. Not all of the girls managed to pull it off well, though. It would have been good to have all the girls display more energy in their movement and portray stronger attitudes in their dancing. However, I am sure it isn’t easy to be doing that in heels every night! Regardless, the dancing brought smiles to our faces and it was very entertaining to watch. Being Malaysia’s “most glamorous musical of the year”, I was actually expecting more in terms of lighting and set designs. While the set was adequate with its lit stairway, some set development as the plot thickened might have added more glamour to the production; perhaps a change of set or some added variations in the second act. The flashy lights from all angles of the stage created a glamorous effect a lot of the time, although the lighting plot was a bit too simple for this production. “How ugly can it get?” Well, not as ugly as I would have enjoyed it to be. There were some conflicts going on throughout the storyline, but there just wasn’t enough ugliness. The production could have afforded to have more development in the girls themselves: How much are they sacrificing to be a Malaysian Girl? How do they really feel about being pushed around? Do they hate each other and the people running the show for them? Most of the time, the ladies were portrayed stereotypically as not very intellectual girls who don’t know how to speak properly. In a way, that showed the ultimate Malaysian-ness of the girls, which in that sense was done successfully. Nevertheless, the musical was a good reminder of what it means to be Malaysian and how we see ourselves as citizens of this country. The show highlighted how different we all are, and yet are still so similar in many ways, thanks to our sense of nationhood and our willingness to stay true to our roots. Malaysian Girls runs until Friday (30 Dec) at KLPac and 10-14 Jan in Penang at the newly opened PenangPac. Tickets can be purchased online through www. ilassotickets.com or through the KLPAC website (www.klpac.org).

Tamilselvi Does Not Speak Tamil
Comedy; 14 & 15 Jan; Indicine at Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre; 03-40479000, www.klpac.org; RM28/RM18
Tamilselvi, a Tamil-educated Tamil, refuses to speak Tamil! She wants nothing to with it! Why? A standup comedy about Indians, their attitudes towards their mother tongues, their love for the English language, and – for some – their dislike of other Indians who speak only English. Presented by Serious Comedy Studio.

Monster Series II: Duoduo, the Little Monster
Theatre; 13-15 Jan; Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre; 03-40479000, www. klpac.org; RM25/RM15
A Mandarin musical about a little boy named Dong Dong. Spoiled by his parents, he is able to get whatever he wants with a click of his fingers. But after the birth of his little sister, he begins to feel out of favour and lonely. He goes through an incredible adventure, and ultimately ends up becoming a loving and protective big brother. Written by Lim Chia Chia and directed by Jason Ong; presented by the Actors Studio Academy @ KLPac and Noise Performance House.

Aladdin: The Musical
Musical; until 2 Jan 2012; Sunway Lagoon; 03-87754666 (AirAsia RedTix), 03-56390000 (Sunway Lagoon ticketing); www.airasiaredtix.com/Events/ Aladdin; RM50-RM300
Get whisked to a land far, far away, filled with adventure, magic, and excitement in this production from the West End! Set against the mystical kingdom of Askabar, go on a musical journey featuring international artistes and dancers with exotic costumes, a flying carpet and a stunning stage. Witty dialogue and hit songs feature in this spellbinding spectacular.

Published by Selangor State Government and printed by Dasar Cetak (M) Sdn Bhd No. 7, Persiaran Selangor, Seksyen 15, 40000, Shah Alam, Selangor Darul Ehsan.

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