Thursday, April 30, 2015

A New Development at the SS2 Durian Corner?

An 18-storey Commercial Building is being proposed at the "SS2 Durian Corner"; This proposed development at our 'doorstep' will certainly add to the already very congested SS2/24 traffic as well as SS2/75 and SS2 commercial centre.
Shouldn't SS2B residents object to this proposal?

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Need to Engage MBPJ on Gated and Guarded Security Schemes.


It is only legal if…

By Roznah Abdul Jabbar
The recent judgement concerning the legality of boom gates and security check points in housing areas has rekindled an age-old dispute: are private housing areas allowed to cordon off public roads for better security?

In a recent case, a judgement by the Federal Court, dismissed the appeal of Au Kean Hoe, a resident of D’Villa Equestrian in Kota Damansara, Selangor, who wanted legal action taken against the residents’ association (RA) of the housing estate.

Au said the guardhouse and two boom gates built in the housing estate ought to be demolished because they were illegal structures, a nuisance that amounted to a traffic obstruction.

The judgement, by a five-member panel chaired by Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin said regulated access to a defined area is not an obstruction in law.

In his judgement, Zulkefli said the developer of the housing estate had obtained approval from Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) for the construction of the guard house.

He said it is not a barricade that is placed across a public road that denies access altogether to all who wish to enter. It is only illegal if one is denied access to a public place.

He said guardhouses and boom gates were authorised structures under the Town and Country Planning, Act 1976; the Street, Drainage and Building Act, 1974; and the Local Government Act, 1976.

Zulkefli added that MBPJ, as the relevant local authority in the present case, was fully empowered to approve the guardhouse with the boom gates in accordance with the MBPJ guidelines for guarded communities issued by the Urban Planning Department in May 2011.

Responding to this, Managing Director of MKH Bhd and President of Building Managers Association Malaysia Tan Sri Datuk Eddy Chen, said that the judgement was such in this case as the RA got the necessary approval from the local council.

“The judgement should not be a reason for everyone to start building a guard house and putting up boom gates as residents need to agree on the matter and approvals need to be obtained,” he said.
He said that a certain percentage of residents, according to the local council, should agree to the construction of the guard house or check points before it is constructed. 

A Temporary Occupation License (TOL) must also be obtained for the structure of the guard house.
“Boom gates could be good for security reasons, but it should not be misused by residents,” Chen said.
He said that the practice needs to be regulated and enforced further to prevent misuse.

“There is no legal right for anyone to stop the public from entering a housing area. The guards cannot deny entry and prevent anyone from going in,” he said.

He said that the need for the boom gates and guard house comes because of crime rates in these housing areas.

“Robberies and thefts are the key reasons behind this self-established security system and it can be easily forgone if the crime rate could be controlled,” he said.

Agreeing with Chen, Richard Chan, the director of RCMC Sdn Bhd, said if the boom gate is blocking the main road from public access, it should be deemed as illegal.

“Even though the judgement says that the boom gate and guard house is legal, we must remember that one cannot just erect it without proper legal paperwork,” he said.

He added that barricades are another problem that local authorities should look into.

“Some housing areas with multiple entry and exit points are reduced to only one or two, as this could be a hindrance for the residents,” he said.

House Buyers Association’s (HBA) secretary-general Chang Kim Loong said the public should not, in any way, have the impression that the RA and neighbourhood watch group can immediately start placing oil drums and barricades across their streets.

He said that the Federal Court decision has affirmed the authority of MBPJ to regulate “Gated-and-guarded (G&G) Schemes” to ensure the laws under the Town and Country Planning Act, 1976; the Street, Drainage and Building Act, 1974 and the Local Government Act, 1976 are strictly adhered to.

“The decision also upholds the validity of the ‘Guidelines of Selangor Housing Board’ on G&G over current practices, in particular its approval of manned boom gates to regulate access,” he said.

He said that residents must always conform to the local authority laws. “Guardhouses [placed] on public roads need the procurement of a TOL before electricity and water may be connected. Anything not in conformity is illegal,” he said.

He said that HBA has presented a set of laws – “Gated-and-guarded Community Act” about seven years ago to the then Ministry of Housing and Local Government.

“We even repeated our call to the current Minister of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government when we made a social visit to him some time in July, 2013, but the Minister felt it was not time yet,” he said.

He said that HBA hopes the proposed Act will be relooked into as it is timely to have the regulations after the Federal Court decision.

“Guidelines are different from laws of Parliament. We want a set of new laws,” he added.

An Update on Security Guards in Malaysia

Letting our guard down

By LESLIE ANDRES - 27 April 2015 @ 9:17 AM
SHOCKING, isn’t it? The very people who are supposed to be protecting us (other than the police) could very well turn out to be wolves in sheep’s clothing.

It’s not enough that there are untrained security guards out there, among the 30,000 illegal guards in the country. We also now hear officially (yes, officially, because most will likely have heard the rumours before this) that there are unsavoury characters involved in the security industry.

We now know that police are investigating several security services companies which have ties with triads. Some have infiltrated these companies as guards, perhaps because checks on personnel being hired by these companies don’t follow the set guidelines. 

Some are actually run by triads, either as a front for money-laundering activities, or just to supplement the secret societies’ “income”.

These triads either threatened security company owners into handing over the reins, or bought them off, leaving the owners in place as mere figureheads.

Another shocking thing we have learned is that there may be anywhere between 1,500 and 5,000 illegal security companies in the country. Even if you take the lower number, it is ridiculous, as it is twice the number of legitimate security services firms in Malaysia.

How has this come about? There is a set of 11 guidelines that security services companies need to follow. So how is it we are facing such a problem?

The problem here, is two fold. First, these are just guidelines. Not laws. Not regulations. Just guidelines.

The second problem is what is called a no-brainer. Only legitimate companies would follow these guidelines, wouldn’t they? If you’re an illegal company, why bother following guidelines?

The answer to the first problem seems (yes, seems) simple enough. These guidelines should be more than just guidelines. In other words, they should be made enforceable.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said recently that this was exactly what the ministry was looking into. All well and good. 

But it must not, by any means, end there. They need to not just be enforceable. They need to be actually enforced. In fact, all laws pertaining to security services companies need to be enforced.

This means stringent and frequent checks need to be done on security companies, without fear nor favour.

Under Malaysian law, only Malaysians and Nepalese are allowed to work in the security industry as guards. And, they have to meet certain prerequisites.

For instance, Nepalese brought here to work as guards must be ex-servicemen. Malaysians working as guards (as well as the Nepalese) should not have criminal records.

Enforcement is also the key to the second problem. The operations of illegal companies need to be stopped, and the only way you are going to do that is to step up enforcement.

As mentioned, the answer seems simple enough. But nothing in life is ever simple, or so the saying goes.

The will to enforce current and future laws governing the security industry must be there. The manpower to address enforcement issues must, too. And, as far as will is concerned, it must permeate the entire enforcement organisation, from the minister right down to the lowest person on the totem pole.

And not just that. It will take the collective will of the people, the ordinary rakyat, as well. It may be a cliche, but there is no denying that the people are the eyes and ears of every single enforcement agency in the country, or any country, for that matter.

Residents association committee members have been quoted as having been approached by illegal security services companies for contracts. Have they reported such approaches to the authorities? Chances are, they haven’t. 

It’s the same with any crime. This column has touched on this before. There are those among us who do not see the value of reporting a crime, unless it’s a big one or you need a report in order to claim insurance or benefits. It may be a generalisation to say this, but it seems like it is a typical Malaysian malaise.

All said and done, if we want not to live in fear, then we ourselves need to do something about it. And, no. Taking the law into our own hands is not an option.

Reported in New Straits Times 27-04-2015