Citizen Nades - Eye on Lake Gardens

Scene: Yarl Corner, Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur

ZAIN: Wow, did you read about the plan to develop the land around the National Monument into a huge public park?

Chong: Yes, lah. They want something like the Central Park in New York or Hyde Park in London. They have lofty ideas and it is going to cost RM650 million?

Mohan: Cikgu, do you know who is getting the contract?

Zain: That’s being cynical … Mohan, why do you have to crack jokes when we are discussing a serious subject?

Chong: Cikgu, he is right. Whenever the government has a plan, there are millionaires to be created. Someone will get contracts, usually above the stipulated price, and there are benefits for all.

Zain: It can’t be that bad-lah .... Here, Khazanah is involved and I am sure they set some very high standards and there will be total accountability. Do you know that they have already asked for input on the proposal from the public?

Mohan: Yes, this is a good sign, but since when does anyone listen to the people? Two years ago, I attended a meeting at the council to oppose the construction of a 26-storey condominium in our neighbourhood.

Chong: Did you speak up?

Mohan: Yes, all the residents opposed the project because of traffic and environmental problems. They said they will get back to us. Two months ago, a signboard came up and work will start soon.

Zain: Are you implying that the council had already made the decision and invited the people just for show?

Chong: Yes, Cikgu, this is one of the requirements of the Town and Country Planning Act.

Zain: Let us not digress. Let’s get back to this park. Is it good for the nation? What benefits will it bring to the people? That is more important.

Mohan: Call me a cynic if you want, but let us look back. Last year, when Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan was urban wellbeing, housing and local government minister, he announced that the government was considering taking over the Royal Selangor Golf Club and turning it into a park for the benefit of all people. Then, the whole thing fizzled out.

Zain: Why?

Chong: Cikgu, you should know better. Do you know the club’s register is a list of Who’s Who in Malaysia? They have many Tuns, Tan Sris and Datuks who play golf there – very influential people with connections at the right places. I was told that the government never even engaged the club before the announcement was made. The minister was flying a balloon to test the wind.

Mohan: I don’t see the reason for a new park. Across the road is the Lake Gardens or Taman Tasik Perdana. Adjoining it is the Bird Park, the Butterfly Park and other “green niceties”. Why waste money on another park? Why can’t they just upgrade it at a fraction of the cost?

Zain: On this, I am certainly with you. The government has cut the Health Ministry’s budget by RM250 million and the Tourism Ministry wants to impose a levy on hotels to carry out promotional activities. We have been asked to tighten our belts.

Chong: Don’t forget that the Public Services Department cancelled the scholarships of our top students because of lack of funds. Shouldn’t all these take priority over a “syiok sendiri” project just because we want a place like Hyde Park?

Chong: Is someone eyeing the land in the Lake Gardens? When this new thing comes up, the entire Lake Gardens can be developed for luxury living. And there’s lots of money to be made.

Mohan: Possible. May be, it has already been promised to certain parties. You know, in our system, everything is done in secret. You wake up one morning and find the road closed. The, tractors, excavators, cranes and bulldozers will take over. Don’t forget that development has taken place in the vicinity. There are already luxury residences on the fringe. The land along Jalan Travers is expensive. One side is already developed. The other side is rich for picking and this borders the Lake Gardens.

Zain: I agree with Mohan. Look at what used to be the Brickfields police station. They renovated the one along Jalan Travers and the old station has been “taken over” earmarked for development.

Chong: This gives a new dimension to meaning of the phrase “endless possibilities”. We all gripe and complain but no one is listening. How do we tell them that the people are watching?

Mohan: Don’t waste time-lah. So many people have tried telling them directly, indirectly, unobtrusively and discreetly. It is not working.

Zain: Even that fellow, Citizen-Nades has written so much on lack of governance and corruption, but he is banging his head against the brick wall.

Chong: Please invite him for lunch next week. He will be good company.

------------------------

ALL EYES are on the fight to contain the zika virus. Everyone is having his or her say. Out of the woodwork, some commercial organisations have emerged, trying to act as a corporate citizen, albeit commercially and blatantly selling their services and goods.

But far away from such maddening incidents, another dangerous disease is spreading contagiously. This columnist has been saying it repeatedly but no one seems to be bothered, letting it attack the basic and core system of government. It’s called the Truth Deficiency Syndrome and here’re the consequences.

Similar conversations are taking place in restaurants, clubs, pubs and even mamak stalls. How are we going to restore some semblance of order to regain the confidence of the people?

R. Nadeswaran, makes an attempt to tell it as it is, duplicating the style of his late colleague Zainon Ahmad who got the message across through such succinct conversations with his friends. Comments: citizen-nades@thesundaily.com