by M.Kula Segaran Deputy Secretary-General DAP Malaysia and Perak DAP Secretary
at Waller Court, Ipoh
on 10th September 2002.
City Hall public exercise to inform the Waller Court tenants of redevelopment plans a mere eyewash?
On 30th August02 the Datuk Bandar of Ipoh launched the redevelopment plans of Waller Court at the commercial complex of Ipoh Parkson Parade, which was conducted for a period of 3 days. The Waller Court Flats were built in 1962 and it houses about 500 flats with 36 shop lots. These flats were built to cater for the inner city residents who come from the lower income group.
Finally on Sunday 8th September the City Hall put up the redevelopment plans of Waller Court for the tenants to be on the know on this matter. In fact one would have thought, as the Waller Court tenants are the people who will be directly affected by any of the proposed redevelopment the City Hall would have inform and consult the tenants at the earliest possible time.
The City Hall put up a stall with some photos of the depilated Waller Court and compared it with what is now proposed which on the face of it looks good. Who have left the Waller Court to rot? Isn't the City Hall's duty to maintain the Flats?
But any one who had graced the said launch at the Waller Court would have been shocked. As one enters the City Hall stall there was a banner, which has been put up by a private developer. The banner reads " Taman Gergang Johan Damai, Lahat. Pendaftaran rumah selesa. Masa 9 pagi 5 petang Pemaju: Pembinaan Punca Cergas S/B. RM35,00 se unit.
Interestingly there were no banners from the City Hall. There was some City Hall staff whose names could not be identified, as they wore no identification on them. Loud music was on and the private developer was busy getting the names recorded of the prospective buyers. The City Hall owes a public duty to state why this Housing Developer was at the launch as the tenants have been given an impression that the development company is owned by the city hall?
When we enquired from the staff of City Hall who were at the Waller Court for an explanation on the redevelopment plans the answer was the proposed redevelopment and relocation can be gathered from the exhibition! Now when it was launched at the Parkson Parade there was a public relations officer from the appointed consultants who provided some explanation.
But down at the Waller Court the tenants out of whom nearly 70% are Chinese there wasn't any public relations officer let alone some one who can do some explanation in Chinese. A senior officer from the City Hall had the odesity to say that the Chinese interpreter had failed to attend, although duly informed. Most of the Waller Court tenants are elderly tenants as such a Chinese translator would have been a must.
The whole launch at Waller Court was nothing but an eyewash. The whole idea of the exhibition of the proposed Waller Court redevelopment would have been an exercise to explain to the tenants the necessity for redevelopment? But what actually occurred was a public exercise by the City Hall for the record that an exhibition had taken place. It was done with little care and responsibility by the City Hall. Sheer arrogance and carelessness on the part of the officers from City Hall is abundantly clear. In this respect some form of disciplinary action on these officers some of whom are senior officers is required. In any case why did the appointed local councilors numbering 26 all in were absent at the launch?
We urge the City Hall to relaunch and explain the redevelopment plans and the benefits it will bring to the tenants the soonest possible. The Datuk Bandar has mentioned earlier that the tenants are expected to provide "some sort of sacrifice" with the redevelopment of the Waller Court Flats. This call by the Datuk Bandar goes both ways! Now if the City Hall officers are so irresponsible to the tenants of Waller Court Flats when the launch took place where then the so called "sacrifice" as mentioned by the Datuk Bandar on behalf of the City Hall?
Mr.Lim Yew Yin the local Rukun Tetangga Chairman was also shocked by the proposed relocation. In fact Mr.Lim mentioned that the price of RM35,000 for a single story low cost house is not only expensive but also it is too much of a burden to these low-income group.
The proposed relocation venue is quite far from the inner city proper. As it is the inner city is quiet in the late evenings. What would the situation be to the inner city if the more then 2000 people (including tenants, family members etc) of Waller Court would have to move out. Wouldn't the inner city be worse off? As most of the tenants are from the lower income group and working nearby the Flats it would be prudent for the City Hall to provide accommodation somewhere near to the location of the Flats.
The Safe Waller Court Committee will convene a meeting among the tenants to night at 8pm. We will brief the tenants of their rights and privileges. It has to be remembered many of these tenants have lived in the Flats for over 40 years and forced relocation will be disastrous. City Hall must discharge its duties responsibly.