Landed properties may be the dream abode for many. However, some residents in established neighbourhoods in Petaling Jaya say house break-ins have reached an alarming level.
Many are taking the law into their own hands, by setting up guarded community schemes without obtaining approval first.
Some have even blocked entry to public roads and introduced access card systems.
Residents are asking the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) for leeway in not following the guidelines for such schemes too strictly
MBPJ’s guidelines for guarded communities was issued by the Urban Planning Department in May 2011.
So far, only 67 neighbourhoods have obtained approval from the council to implement the scheme with many running illegally.
A worrying situation
Residents of SS7 Lengkuk Golf in Kelana Jaya claimed that there has been a hike in the number of break-ins and snatch thefts.
Lengkuk Golf SS7 resident Ali Aziz said both his daughters were robbed in the daytime.
“One of my daughters was returning home with her child about noon. She was opening the gate when robbers armed with parang took her handbag,” said Ali, who supports the community guarded scheme
Residents Association (RA) deputy chairman Esham Salam said many residents have resorted to installing electric fences, barbed wire and even hiring their own security guards.
He added that guarded community scheme is burdensome because of the tight regulations and heavy paperwork.
“Many residents are retirees. It is expensive to set up the type of guard-house the council requires. We hope the council would allow us to start small and build better facilities when we have enough funds,” he said.
RA chairman Datuk Zul Mukhsar Md Shariff said in the last six months, the number of house break-ins in SS7 had become intolerable, resulting in residents applying to start the guarded community scheme.
“While citizens can get together to improve neighbourhood security, it is actually beyond the RA’s resources and capabilities to address the security issues on our own.
“The responsibility of ensuring safe neighbourhoods lies with the local, state and federal government levels.
“We shouldn’t have to live in neighbourhoods with electric fences, guard houses and blocked roads,” he said, adding that citizens could still become victims of crime when they leave the gated community.
At SS3, Petaling Jaya, a group of residents have installed an automatic access card system. They have also blocked entry and closed several roads round the clock.
However, not all residents agree with the measures taken.
Cecelia Kok said she is against the closure of public roads.
Kok said it would not deter crime but instead transfer the problem to another area.
“How can you close public roads for 24 hours and deprive others from using them? There are plans to close more roads here.
“We are totally against it,” she said.
Those who are not contributing to the access card system are deprived from using certain roads, too.
“I have signatures from 120 residents who are against this,” she said.
Against the law
MBPJ guidelines for the guarded community scheme prevent the obstruction of public roads, fencing off of public land and the denial of access to law abiding citizens.
Petaling Jaya councillor Derek Fernandez said citizens may want to use those roads even if they do not live there.
Indiscriminate closure or obstruction of public roads would lead to traffic congestion and the potential increase in the risk of crime to other areas which do not have such schemes.
He added that in the interest of public safety, the government has allowed some restrictions to the access of public roads.
However, putting automatic access control machines on public roads and other unapproved measure is not only a breach of several laws but also affects the legitimacy of such schemes.
The laws and guidelines must be respected and adhered to, said Fernandez.
“We cannot break the law and claim we are doing it to prevent crime.
“Many citizens are not robbers and their rights of mobility on roads must be respected,” he said in urging residents to follow the guidelines and obtain approval before building any structure or implementing any scheme.
“If the guidelines are inadequate, they must urge lawmakers such as assemblyman, MPs and even the state government to amend them,” he said.
Fernandez also pointed out that not all neighbourhoods could afford guarded schemes.
“It may lead to social segregation of communities,” he said.
Petaling Jaya mayor Mohd Azizi Mohd Zain said neighbourhoods must obtain approval from at least 70% of residents before applying for the guarded scheme.
At the council’s fullboard meeting yesterday, an application by the SS3 neighbourhood to close access to the public at Jalan SS3/76 and Jalan SS3/78 was rejected.
The council also rejected an application by the Section 5 neighbourhood to close off Jalan 5/10.
“We rejected their applications because they did not fulfil the guidelines,” said Mohd Azizi in urging neighbourhoods to first check the guidelines.
He said the council would issue a seven-day notice to the neighbourhood to remove the barrier or it would be demolished.
MBPJ public relations officer Zainun Zakaria said they would also not allow the access card system.
“The council has issued a notice to dismantle the access card system. We do not allow it in any guarded community scheme,” she said.