A WEEKEND retreat organised by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) in Port Dickson, for Brickfields community leaders turned sour when the latter berated DBKL Planning deputy director-general Datuk Mahadi Che Ngah over the Jalan Travers name change.
The three-day, two-night retreat was held to gather public feedback and suggestions for the Brickfields Local Agenda 21 (LA21) on how to make Brickfields safer.
The local leaders took the opportunity to question Mahadi on why the Brickfields community was not consulted about the renaming of Jalan Travers to Jalan Rakyat.
It was learnt that Mahadi, who attended the closing ceremony yesterday, was bombarded with questions from residents demanding for answers during the question-and-answer session.
They said that if no answer was forthcoming from DBKL, the residents will organise a protest in Jalan Travers to voice their dissatisfaction.
The LA 21 programme involves three parties — DBKL, residents, and non-governmental organisations working together to make Brickfields a sustainable city for its residents.
“A crucial element of LA21 is public engagement, with emphasis on pre-consultation.
“But the irony is no one consulted us about the Jalan Travers name change,” said Brickfields Rukun Tetangga chairman S.K.K Naidu.
“We have been working closely with City Hall on LA21 since last year, so I find it strange that they did not see fit to tell us about this (name change),” he said.
Reverend Jastin Clarance said: “It is very sad that there is a disregard for the history of Brickfields.
“The contributions of individuals to the community are forgotten.
“Do the people who changed the name know of the contribution of the late Dr Travers?
“A community that forgets its past does not bode well for its future,” he added.
“What is the purpose of LA21 then?” asked Chandra L. Ramprakash, an irate resident.
“We have been asking for a public toilet in the area for years and we never got it,” he pointed out.
He added that the community would set up a board at the junction of Jalan Travers for the public to sign on it to show their displeasure.
Brickfields with a population of 50,000 is the second township selected by DBKL under the LA21 programme to transform Kuala Lumpur into a clean and safe city.
The programme had first been carried out in Bukit Bintang.
Under the programmme, 24 local community groups were invited by Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Phesal Talib to give their feedback and suggestions on how to make Brickfields a sustainable township and foster a sense of belonging among members of the community.
Last week, the 300m stretch of Jalan Travers was changed to Jalan Rakyat.
When confronted by residents, Mahadi said his department was not involved in the name change.
The RT Brickfields and The Brickfields Community Society, a coalition of NGOs, will be sending a letter to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to protest the name change, on grounds that it was done without prior consultation with the community.
Jalan Travers was named after Dr Ernest Aston Otho Travers, who set up the Sungai Buloh leprosy centre.
Before it was known as Jalan Travers, it was part of the Damansara Road named after Sungai Damansara.
According to the book Doctors Extraordinaire by Ho Tak Ming, Dr Travers was posted in Sungai Ujong (the former name of Seremban) as residency surgeon in 1887, while serving as acting protector of Indian immigrants and acting magistrate concurrently.
He was made Residency Surgeon of Selangor in 1891 and the State Surgeon in 1897.