Mayor’s Concerns


By Fathol Zaman Bukhari

ipoh echo issue 142, Fathol Zaman Bukhari, editorialIt was one of those days when you least expect the inevitable to happen but it happens. I was invited along with other bureau chiefs to a briefing on town planning by the mayor at the city council main annexe recently. I thought it would start and end, like other briefings before this. It never occurred to me that this time around it would be different.

Seldom do meetings in Malaysia start or end at the appointed time. We were told to be seated in Dewan Azlan Shah on the 10th floor at 10.00 a.m. sharp (so said the faxed and text messages). After much waiting and fussing, the briefing eventually began when the mayor walked in at 10.30 a.m. No one complained. Malaysian time, mah!

I felt a soft tap on my shoulders. It was Shahrizal, the harried public relations officer to the mayor. He is a gem of a person, always tactful and respectful, notwithstanding the responsibilities he shoulders. “Boss, Rosli Dahamin is not coming can you say a few words on behalf of the media?” he asked. I was taken aback. Talking from the podium was the last thing on my mind but when push comes to shove, what choice do I have? I nodded in agreement. Being the most senior newsman, in age and stature, I was the obvious choice. Shahrizal ushered me to the main table and had me seated beside the mayor, Dato’ Roshidi Hashim.

The briefing was conducted by the Town Planning Division Chief, Encik  Zulqarnain Mohamad who has been with the council for over two decades. Zulqarnain has a very pleasant personality and is more appropriate for Shahrizal’s post rather than as the council’s planning chief. But that is not the issue.

The crux of the briefing centred on the development of the city, in conformity with Ipoh Structural Plan 2020, which is in the final stage of rectification. The Plan espouses an equitable spread in developing the 643 sq km city. Five sectors are recommended, namely Simpang Pulai, Station 18, Tambun, Meru Raya and Ampangan. This is to facilitate decentralisation and to avoid the pitfalls of Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya and Penang. All seemed good on paper but the lingering problem that will continue to dog Ipohites is the absence of a viable public transport system to service the designated areas. Zulqarnain gave a simplistic answer. “The Plan will be fully realised in 2020, so time is not an issue.” I guess none in the hall that day had an answer.

When the briefing was over I took the opportunity to ask the mayor a few pressing questions. One was on the clamping of cars whose owners had one compound too many. Clamping is on-going he said but the extent is limited due to time and space. He would prefer errant owners to own up rather than the council resorting to such measures. The other was traffic congestion in Greentown Business Centre, Kinta City and the city centre. There are ample parking spaces, he exclaimed. The fault lies with motorists who prefer to double and sometimes triple park for their own convenience. “It’s an attitude problem,” he said.  I could not agree more.

On the development of Old Town he had this to say, “Efforts to convince the property owners to spruce up their properties have been taken but there doesn’t seem to be any response. I am prepared to discuss terms if only they’re prepared to come to the table.” Strange, I thought, it was the other way around – the council refusing to give in to the demands of the owners. There is still room to resolve the problem, amicably.

It is no mean task to manage a city larger in size than (the original) Singapore Island. Ipoh’s population has breached the 720,000 mark and is growing. With a working staff of over 2,000, Roshidi’s responsibility to make the council tick like a well-oiled clock is daunting.

His term as mayor ends in June. “There is no indication yet of an extension,” he said. “I’ve bought a piece of land in Ampangan and plan to settle here for good,” enthused the Merbok-born civil servant. I empathise with this soft-spoken yet affable Kedahan.

9 thoughts on “Mayor’s Concerns

  1. Bravo! To all those readers who gave a good bashing to the lady named Ken.
    May god bless us all.

    Ken, now read very carefully lady, we, me and all those readers and everyone that thinks alike don’t condone such idiotic words from you. Next time do not post your stupid comments!

    The Mayor of Ipoh, is not the watchman of your house!

    I suggest that you permanently STOP posting anymore comments in Ipoh Echo. Your comments only incite anger,hatred and the feeling of uneasiness among all the readers of Ipoh Echo.

  2. I strongly support the views of Mr.Norman Majid and Mr.Mohd.Sapian.
    We must learn to respect people if we want to receive the same.

    I would also like to advice the lady by the name Ken. Ken, is this the way how you interact with your family members?

    I won’t be surprised if the answer is yes. We Asians, especially Malaysians, we give a lot of emphasis on respect and mannerism.

    How if a foreigner happened to view that lady Ken’s comments to the Mayor?
    What impression would it give him about Malaysians as a whole?

    This lady Ken, should had been taught a thorough lesson about manners and respect.

    A lady who does not have even the slightest ethics of manners is trying to be the moral adviser of a Mayor?

    If we want a clean and neat environment, there a ways and proper channels to highlight our grievances and our unhappiness.

    Instead of doing so, this lady Ken and also another person who doesn’t have any self respect at all by the name Abu Nooh trying to belittle our Mayor by commenting like uncivilized person.

    Ken, if you had become a Mayor of a city and someone ordered you like how you did, ” wat concern, go clean up d town rubbish laaaaa”
    Will you immediately do the ordered task ?

    Come on, lady please comment or say like an educated person. I won’t even say like that to my Indonesian maid.

    You are always welcome to give constructive suggestions and comments to upgrade the current system to a better way, but not like how you had put it.

  3. Hold your horses there !!! Abu Noooh.
    Are you a member in the Ipoh City Planning Committee? I bet that you are not.
    Which ‘learned’ friend of yours informed you that there is no ‘thoughts’ and future planning and implementations in Ipoh?

    It is people like you who are nurturing and advocating the culture of ‘kurang ajar’ in the society that we live in.

    You have the same mentality of the lady named Ken, who posted unethical words towards the Mayor.

    For your information, there could be hundreds of doctors, engineers, lawyers, lecturers and so on in a city ‘but’ only one person holds the ‘Dignified’ title as Mayor.

    So the next time before you take sides on anybody, use your brain first and only then you show your affiliation to anyone.

    Mr. Norman Majid only requested that particular lady named Ken to show some respect and forward whatever that he feels is right in an acceptable manner and not by behaving as if you are talking to a convicted murderer.

    Is there anything wrong with that ??

  4. One tends to agree with all those who have voiced frustration. I left IPOH 18 months ago after being a strong protagonist of social engagement and often synergisng with the state authorities and also the mayors office. It was very challenging to address the political mindsets who had their own vested interests in mind. Now after being abroad and coming back to IPoh almost very month, all one sees is a mess of a place, unkempt and poorly maintained city with no will from the mayor’s office or his staff to do what’s required. Instead what you see is sporadic development in chosen areas which clearly fit certain aspirations and definitely not what the citizens need. A real shame that a ‘debt free’ state is so badly managed.

  5. Norman….

    Perhaps, you (Norman) should open your eyes and see how decrepit Ipoh is, instead of being concerned about the hurt feelings of the Mayor.

    You said, “…We don’t say or utter these type of words to anyone especially to the Mayor of a city….”

    Ken has every right to complain about the mayor’s inability to solve Ipoh’s woes.

    If the mayor has no leadership qualities, then he has to go. If he has no resources, then he should look into that. If he has a bad team to work with, then he should get a new one. Deadwood, should be thrown out.

    So what should Ken have said or written which will be to your, and the Mayor’s, satisfaction? How does one glorify lack of accountability and irresponsibility?

    Our city is filthy amongst other things. There is no thought in its future planning and implementation.

    When a community or nation is more concerned about “hurting” its leaders feelings, it will soon drown in its own filth.

    The area around his (the Mayor’s) residence is clean and well-kept. So unless you (Norman) are his neighbour or have your head in the clouds, ordinary Ipohites are suffering!

  6. I would like to give an advice here, especially to the lady named Ken. I am very sure that she is an educated lady.

    I hope that she have some manners and use acceptable words whenever she comments on anyone especially those people who are holding high positions in the government.

    Ken might think or believes that she is a perfect woman.
    Most of her comments seems to belittle everyone. This lady should have been taught some respect in her early childhood.

    My request to this lady by the name Ken, please do not post any comments if you do not know to respect people and have some ethics please if you still thought of posting any comments.

    ” wat concern, go clean up d town rubbish laaaaa”

    We don’t say or utter these type of words to anyone especially to the Mayor of a city.

  7. The root of the problem is that politicians (in the form of Councilors from political parties, State Exco members and the Menteri Besar) have the final say in everything. Whatever that the professionals have planned, can and will be pushed aside by these politicians. This is on top of the already poor planning by the professionals.

    Look at the five “sectors” to be developed. Where are the drainage plans, new wide roads and other required supporting infrastructure for development? Add a few hundred cars on the roads in any of the sectors and there will be bad traffic jams. Building a few hundred new homes and shops will create flash floods because existing drains can’t cope with surface run-off.

    Is MBI able to create business centers in the new sectors? The business areas in Ipoh are still Old Town and Green Town. Everything is still centralized in Ipoh city center.

  8. With regards to :

    ” The Plan espouses an equitable spread in developing the 643 sq km city. Five sectors are recommended, namely Simpang Pulai, Station 18, Tambun, Meru Raya and Ampangan. This is to facilitate decentralisation and to avoid the pitfalls of Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya and Penang.”

    The Ipoh Structural Plan is a misguided plan, infact, it is so badly done, there is very little intellectual content in it. As the saying goes, it is not worth the paper it is printed on.

    Any planner (the authors of the structure plan) espousing decentralization of a city without proper transport and social & physical infrastructure has not an iota of planning sense in them. Any leader that follows it without critically thinking it through, dangerous.

    More cities are bankrupted by the expansion of their suburbs than any other factor. This is because the upkeep of the infrastructure, roads, drainage, sewers, electrification all need to be maintained and as a city expands indeterminately, these costs spiral exponentially.

    Can someone explain to me why Singapore has not dropped in the pitfall of densification ? And in fact flourish due to the properly planned densification ?

    The only way forward in progressive cities is the humane densification of cities, which allows for viable public transportation to happen ( ie ridership), street retail to work economically and through the sharing of physical infrastructure, economize on the costs of these infrastructure.

    The only way to get there is not to have the people working in our planning department for decades do it. And definitely not the CONsultants that wrote the Ipoh Structure Plan 2020.

    We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

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