“PLEASE don’t park here! Learn to respect other people’s space.”
That was a hand-written message left on the windscreen of my husband’s car in Segambut recently.
To clarify, he was not parked in a slipshod manner but properly parked, on a public road under Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s (DBKL) jurisdiction near a small neighbourhood.
He was not parked on a yellow line, neither was his car on someone’s property nor in front of someone’s house gate.
He works nearby at a commercial hub and the public parking bays were fully taken up that day, with dozens of them “hijacked” by selfish shop owners using flowerpots, rubbish bins and plastic chairs.
Hence, he had no choice but to park along the road of a residential area.
The note left on the windscreen reminded me of a visit to my in-laws in Penang a few years ago.
It was during Chinese New Year and we arrived in the wee hours of the morning.
So tired after the long drive from Kuala Lumpur, we parked in front of my mother-in-law’s house along the kerb.
The next morning, we found a note on our car telling us to never park there again as it was not our kerb space and we should respect people’s space.
Ironically, both notes had the word “respect” in it. I wonder, do people understand the meaning of that word?
My friend’s younger brother, who just moved to Kuala Lumpur from Seremban for work, has been a recipient of similar notes.
He had just gotten a job as a fitness instructor in a mall.
He usually parks along the inner roads of Jalan Rumpai or Jalan Pudina in Bangsar.
With bills to pay, including room rental, car loan and National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loan, as well as money needed for petrol and food, he simply could not afford to pay the parking charges at the mall.
But he made sure he did not obstruct anyone whenever he parked his car in the neighbourhood.
Since then, handwritten notes have been left on his car by an anonymous neighbour warning him not to park in that spot again or he would find his car scratched or tyres punctured.
The subject of the legality of kerb parking has become a point of contention with residents and commercial property owners for years and I must confess, personally it irks me quite a bit.
Is there a difference between individuals who reserve the parking bays in front of their shops with rubbish bins and flowerpots and those who claim that the kerb in front of their residential property belongs to them?
Technically, residents do not own the road in front of their houses and shops.
I often get into a tiff with friends who also live in the city and constantly rant about outsiders parking on kerbs near their houses.
Remarks like “these people should be taught a lesson” or “they have no respect” are uncalled for.
Even in gated neighbourhoods, you cannot reserve, block public spaces or prevent people from parking in a public space.
This type of “proprietary” behaviour must stop.
I know how frustrating it is to look for parking space in the city, especially when you are in a hurry or need to go to the bank or clinic, and see precious parking spaces hijacked by selfish folk.
I recently reported on a situation near Jalan Sepadu in Taman United, Kuala Lumpur where shop owners constantly hijack parking spaces, denying the public a place to park.
They use old oBikes, broken motorcycles and plastic chairs to reserve the bays.
And when DBKL officers arrive to enforce the law, the very same people deny placing the bicycle and motorcycle there.
The reality is there is insufficient parking space in the city, so people have to learn to share that space.
The only exception here is when precious space is occupied by an abandoned vehicle or one with an expired road tax.
My colleague, who lives in Kuchai Lama near a church, often has to deal with cars parked by church-goers during Sunday mass or festive occasions.
He does not have a problem with that as the church engages People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela) personnel to manage parking during that time.
Now, as a homeowner myself, my house is located along a cul de sac with a total of eight houses in a row.
My neighbours and I are lucky to have a big space in front of our houses.
It is a blessing during festivals or when my relatives come over for a visit.
But when a neighbour started abusing that space by parking five of his old cars, all with expired road taxes, I told him he had to remove them, which he did.
And then, there was the time when a neighbour from the next street, who runs a school bus business started parking his buses in front of my street.
My neighbours took offence as it was illegal to park buses and lorries inside neighbourhoods.
This selfish attitude is prevalent in all sections of the community where people are driven towards their own personal goals that any form of civic sense has become a low priority for them.
As Kuala Lumpur grows and its population increases, this growth is going to put a strain on space and infrastructure like parking space.
Sooner or later, we as citizens of the city, have to accept that parking space is public property, a public resource that must be shared.
And in order to do that, people must learn to respect other people’s needs.
Now, that is what true respect is all about.
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