Polo Ground Is A Solution Possible?

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The concept of a public park in the eyes and minds of Malaysians seems slightly clouded. There is this mistaken belief that business and healthy pursuits co-existed harmoniously in parks. Nowhere is this notion so evident than at Ipoh’s iconic Taman Rekreasi Sultan Abdul Aziz aka Polo Ground. Over here health buffs jostle for space with itinerant hawkers on wheels making it a sight to behold. Perhaps it is a Malaysian way of life where hawking is ingrained in our culture. Or could it be simple economics, as one reader puts it, “where there’s demand there’s supply.”

The problems posed by hawkers, vandals and noise polluters prompted another reader to implore succinctly to return the park to its former grandeur, one which is “free from hawkers, vandals, vermin, noise pollution and traffic”. 

Short-Lived Eviction

These are real problems which require solutions not knee-jerk reactions. In 2007, the unsightly vista caught the attention of HRH Sultan Azlan Shah who jogs in the park regularly. City Council’s enforcement division swooped down on the illegal traders and overnight they were all gone. It was a huge relief to the residents living nearby.

The eviction exercise, however, was a mere slap on the wrist, all bark no bite, so more hawkers joined the fray. They returned with bigger vans and larger tables. Since it was taboo to do business in the morning they swarmed the grounds when the sun set. Circumventing the law seemed a better option than confronting city council head-on.  It became a cat and mouse game between enforcers and hawkers much to the chagrin of park users and residents alike.  This went on for awhile. Today, with little or no enforcement, these “pesky” hawkers flaunt the law with impunity. 

Legislation

Is there a solution to the problem? Three legislations namely, the Local Government Act 1976, the Town and Country Planning Act 1976 and the Street Drainage and Building Act 1974, dictate how a local council should be managed. Malaysia, being a signatory of the United Nations Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in 1992, has attempted (but failed) to adopt and implement a programme for sustainable development at local council level. This is referred to as Local Agenda 21 (LA 21). The three legislations, LA 21 and MBI-sanctioned by-laws, are sufficient to make amends for the gross injustice that has wrought havoc on visitors and residents living near the Polo Ground.

Apathy and Tidak-Apa

So why is MBI not responding to demands by Ipohites? Reasons are aplenty. Apathy tops the list. Next is our favourite Malaysian malaise, tidak-apa attitude and finally, a feeling of déjà vu. Why bother, the problem does not affect me and further more, no one is complaining. And one other excuse so freely expressed, “depa pun nak cari makan” (they too want to eat). These are the reasons why we have to put up with a sight which have become commonplace at almost all public parks in the country.

So what options are left for the hard-pressed and much maligned visitors and residents of Polo Ground? How can they get the authorities to act? And how must they go about getting the authorities to act?

Options

One possible way is to form an action committee consisting of all residents living near Polo Ground. List all the complaints you have and go on a signature campaign. Even the health buffs can do their part by forming an ad hoc committee. Get Peter Choong, the councillor for Zone 14, to act. Let him do your bidding, for after all that is his responsibility.

Ipoh City Watch (ICW) a non-governmental organisation formed in November 2002 dedicated to improving the quality of life of Ipohites can be of help. Although the NGO does not take issues on an individual basis it can provide the much needed guidance in preparing a case. Lawyer Augustine Anthony is the current president of ICW.

Another possible option, and a practical one too, is to make direct representation to Mayor Dato’ Roshidi Hashim himself or to his boss, State Executive Councillor for Local Governments, Dato’ Dr Mah Hang Soon. Dato’ Mah has been attributed for resolving many outstanding issues concerning citizens’ rights and needs. In fact, on reading one reader’s complaint about the loud music emanating from the park on weekends, Mah informed Ipoh Echo that the problem would be tackled immediately. The mayor’s turun padang programme is his commitment towards making Ipoh a liveable city. Roshidi’s “turning vision into reality” promise is still fresh in our heads.  

Lasting solution

A lasting solution is not impossible. City Council should take cognisance of Ipohites’ growing concern. A public park should operate like park, a quiet place to relax and to exercise. Don’t turn this 27-acre green lung into a ‘pasar malam‘ or a site for jamboree-like gatherings. For the record, Polo Ground was gazetted a park in 2005.

We are already into the second decade of the new millennium. Let’s move on.

10 thoughts on “Polo Ground Is A Solution Possible?

  1. Very disappointed at MBI’s total silence on this issue. Datuk Bandar, wherefore art thou!

  2. Mat Rempit here is pretty blunt but I think the problem is not race but more on the corruption.

    How hard is it for the city council to come down hard on the hawkers, confiscate their stuff and chase them away? What is stopping them?

    Perhaps the mayor himself should “turn padang” and be involved to make sure that the hawker problem is solved once and for all.

  3. to mat rempit…its not cz of bangsa. how bout other races (cina…i wont say “so sorry lah”) tat open table sampai tengah jalan especially at night. until some of the roads have to b closed cz of them.
    so, either u r malay, chinese,indians or whoever pun, if u “tak ade sivik”, so u pikir la sendiri.
    give suggestion here or go direct to datuk bandar.
    dont just condemn k. give suggestions how to solve.so, we play ‘OUR RULES’ as a citizen.

    maybe mbi can come out with stalls centre near tat area for these hawkers, etc.

  4. Perhaps the revelent authorities would consider installing more street lightings in the Polo Ground as some areas are quite dark between 6 to 7am.

  5. Of course there will be NO SOLUTION to this problem! If the hawkers are non-Malays, MBI would have got rid of them a long time ago, but because the hawkers are all Malays i.e. Bumiputeras, so sorry lah, WE RULE ok?!! Ketuanan Melayu, you all understand???

    So stop asking MBI to chase the hawkers away. You know that isn’t gonna happen and we will make sure of that. And you guys can complain about the noise adn the traffic adn the pollution till the cows come home. You are just wasting your time and your breath lah.

    Hahahahahahaha!!!

  6. Kudos to Ipoh Echo for this excellent article which presents a fair, unbiased and accurate report on the Polo Ground situation. It is about time the horrendous situation was highlighted in the local press and I am encouraged that Ipoh Echo, as the local community paper that serves to make Ipoh a better place to live in, has shown that it really does care. Thank you, ipoh Echo, and well done.

    It is now time now for MBI to act and act immediately. For far too long the local community and residents have been given the run around. Appeals to MBI, the Mayor’s office and even the Mentri Besar formerly, all amounted to nothing.

    I could not agree more with KKC and Sundralingam! At the moment there is total anarchy at Polo Ground! Complete lawlessness, no rules, no legislation, no law and order! What kind of third world country do we live in that allows a beautiful park to be raped, plundered and left to rot and ruin in broad daylight (and through the night too!) while its “protectors”, the local authorities, shy away from effecting any form of governance??

    This has been such a long on-going issue that frinkly I am baffled as to why the authorities continue to turn a blind eye and deaf ears to the cries of the Ipoh townsfolk! Frankly I am totally disappointed with MBI who keep giving complainants and well meaning city watchmen the run around.

    The situation has become so desperate that the avalanche of hawkers have coompletley swamped the park now and taken over the running of it too, by the looks of it! I have heard that the hawkers have gathered not only in number but also in strength (power) and courage as they are led by a so-called “gang-leader”, the king of the hawker stalls along Persiaran Brash. Apparently, this “hawker mafia head” has MBI under his control and how he has done so everyone would like to know.

    Is it through threats that they, the hawkers, will politicise the issue if they were to be relocated? More importantly, should MBI continue to bow to such unreasonable threats and pressure? It is inconceivable that ten hawker stalls can have MBI “by their balls”, to put it crudely!!! Yet these ten stalls are the very source of woes for the rest of Ipoh!

    By simply relocating these ten stalls to a designated hawker zone would restore sanity to the park immediately, for they are the cause of the noise, pollution, traffic, congestion, dirt, chaos, not to mention ugliness. No point spending millions of RM on props when the sight of the hawkers spoil the landscape completely.

    I would like to congratulate State Executive Councillor, Datuk Mah Hang Soon, on his outstanding work since he took up office, particularly how he has managed to resolve some challenging issues brought to his attention. I urge him now, on behalf of fellow Ipohites, the local community and residents of Taman Rekreasi Sultan Abdul Aziz, to look into this matter seriously without any further delay or beating about the bush.

    If anyone can do it, Datuk Mah, you can. Restore faith in the Government for the local Ipoh people! More importantly, restore polo ground to its former glory!!

    If Datuk Mah, Datuk Bandar Roshidi, and Datuk Seri Zambry are serious about Ipoh instead of being “all talk” only, they must do something about this critical issue or lose the support of the Ipoh city folk.

  7. POLO GROUND IS A SOLUTION POSSIBLE?

    I don’t think there is, not in the forseeable future. Why?
    If you are a frequent visitor to the Polo Ground you would have witness how our Local Authority go about managing it.
    It gives me the impression that there is no department with dedicated qualified personnel managing the Ground. Alot of money has been spent on “upgrading” ie dismantling, removing, replacing and dismantling..of fixtures.
    Over the years, the Ground has been rendered unuasable time and again by government and private departments/organisations holding functions and fairs..raping and multilating it, so to speak and leaving it to heal by itself. Unsightly rubbish are strewn all over much to the displeasure of rate payers and visitors. This is a PARK in a so called CITY!
    This is the only 1Polo Ground for Ipohites to exercise and keep fit and healthy. Food should be sold elsewhere.
    Are motor bikes, cars and vans allowed in the Ground?
    If not,there should be stricter enforcement and summons issued to these law breakers. Or is it that MBI do not have the power to enforce? Give summons to those who parked haphazardly especially those vehicles that takes up 2 parking lots. These are selfish law breakers!
    Please stop motorbikes (potential snatchers) using the jogging track.

    Please, bring POLO GROUND to its former glory !

    You can do it Mr Mayor.
    Mr Mah..show us how effective you are in the Exco.

    Talk is Cheap!

  8. Ipoh Polo Field is a gazetted park for its residents for
    recreation. Then why permit hawkers to run their business there and create a lot of mass for all of us.
    Now Zamby is the official Chief Minister, what are u waiting for, show us that u can deliver your goods.
    By making Polo ground a place for joggers and peace lovers truly a place for recreation. Please get rid of all the illegal hawkers. Thank u.

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