The movement control order that took effect on March 18 has been tough for everyone and even more so for business operators, the less fortunate, elderly, disabled and infirm as well as children.
Affairs affecting the day-to-day running of a city like Petaling Jaya with regard to revenue collection, enforcement and infrastructure matters continued regardless of whether a pandemic hung overhead but with careful observance of the National Security Council’s standard operating procedure.
Petaling Jaya residents faced up to the challenges brought on by the pandemic and took everything in their stride.
This year, Petaling Jaya welcomed its first woman deputy mayor Azlinda Azman.
The 55-year-old echoed mayor Datuk Mohd Sayuthi Bakar’s aspiration to work towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for the city. She also said that she looked forward to working with Sayuthi and learning technical aspects of city planning.
Old Town market
Markets in Petaling Jaya came under the spotlight this year as Covid-19 dominated headlines.
Pasar Besar Jalan Othman, the oldest market in the city, was among the first few sites to record Covid-19 cases.
In May, 1,500 traders were required to undergo Covid-19 tests after the authorities shut the market.
Twenty-six positive cases were reported with a majority linked to foreign workers.
A lockdown ensued, in the same month, affecting 2,900 residents and traders.
Although Petaling Jaya Old Town comprised houses in Sections 1,2, 3 and 4, only 100 houses in Section 2,60 premises in Section 3 and 100 residences in Section 4 were placed under enhanced MCO.
The lockdown proved difficult for people, including seniors and the disabled, whose daily routine involved getting food from restaurants.
Understanding the plight of those behind barbed wires, Petaling Jaya 1B Rukun Tetangga (RT) stepped forward to lend a hand.
Joining forces with a few traders, they provided meals three times a day to residents under lockdown.
RT chairman Kok Kuan Young and his team along with the relevant authority looked into the needs of the needy, especially the old and sick.
The abrupt lockdown caused traders to leave caged chickens at the market. This attracted rats to the abandoned birds.
During a visit, StarMetro witnessed around 50 rats scurrying about as some nibbled on chicken carcasses.It was then that Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) enforced a ruling that live poultry was not allowed in the market’s vicinity.
To improve the situation, the market underwent upgrading works and a facelift. Vacant lots were rented out.
The upgrading project cost MBPJ RM5mil, Petaling Jaya mayor Datuk Mohd Sayuthi Bakar said.
Traders also agreed to hire locals and scaled down their business to follow the city council’s requirements.
The market was also fenced up to have better control of the loading of the goods and movement of the traders and their helpers.
News that a proposal for the Petaling Jaya Dispersal Link (PJD Link) had been discussed at the Selangor Economic Action Council (MTES), ruffled feathers among residents.
Bearing similarities to the former Kinrara-Damansara Expressway (Kidex), the new proposed 34.3km dual-carriage expressway was to link Damansara and Kinrara.
Selangor local government, public transportation and new village development committee chairman Ng Sze Han confirmed that representatives of the Petaling Jaya Dispersal (PJD) Link (M) Sdn Bhd had attended the MTES meeting.
Ng suggested for PJD Link to engage with elected representatives and residents groups on the building of the highway.
Residents groups, however, were against the proposal and asked for the proposed alignment plan to be revealed.
On meeting the highway’s developer, residents insisted that the authorities be present.
Selangor infrastructure and public amenities, agricultural modernisation and agro-based industry committee chairman Izham Hashim, however, said the PJD Link was still in the early stages of discussion.
He said while there was a need to help disperse traffic from Damansara to Kinrara, the state would take into account all aspects of PJD Link, especially parts running through rivers and neighbourhoods.
He said Kidex and PJD Link were not the same and that the state would continue studying the need for a north-south dispersal link. The final decision, he said, would rest with the Federal Government.
Kidex, which raised residents’ ire, was cancelled by former Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azmin Ali in February 2015.
Izham said a thorough procedure would be put in place, including carrying out studies and public engagements before implementing any project.
Damansara MCA division chief Tan Gim Tuan said Selangor government should stick to its manifesto of not building more tolled roads.
He said elected representatives should have rejected the plan for the new highway when it was proposed.
A PJD Link spokesperson, however, said it would continue engaging with residents on the proposed highway via firstname.lastname@example.org
A survey initiated by Petaling Jaya child councillors (PPJCC) showed that learning from home was less effective due to unstable Internet connectivity and lack of suitable devices for online lessons.
Some 53.9% child respondents rated learning from home between fair and very poor.
The MCO put people in unfamiliar territory as they faced new challenges and emotions and children were not spared the effects.
An online survey, carried out between May and June, tried to gauge children’s views on online safety, physical and mental health, education and their basic needs.
Thirty-two child councillors, from varied economic backgrounds, shared the online survey forms in English and Bahasa Malaysia, with peers.
Some 36% of respondents were from Petaling Jaya and the rest were from other parts of Malaysia.
Among the respondents, 33% were aged 16 to 17 years old while others were between seven and 15 years old.
Led by child councillor Qamil Mirza Abdullah, 17, he said 525 children aged between nine and 17 submitted their response in the “Findings on the MCO Survey”.
Around 31.2% described Internet connection at home as unstable, while 55.6%, said they were on the Internet for more than six hours a day while 48% did not feel safe online.
Sixty-nine percent, however, were keen to know about online safety.
Some 38.1% said the MCO affected their physical and mental health but 44% spent time on video games or toys.
The survey revealed that a mere 0.38% knew of the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry’s Talian Kasih (15999).
The young councillors also worked with Toy Libraries Malaysia and public safety project Childline Malaysia to distribute toys to B40 children during the MCO.
Public generosity was obvious during the MCO as people donated 3,000 new and pre-loved toys to Toy Libraries Malaysia for folks in People’s Housing Projects (PPR), low-cost flats and special needs centres.
Toy Libraries Malaysia chief play advocate Datin PH Wong said it was important to ensure that children were engaged in productive activities during the MCO.
Food stall operators, along Jalan 13/4 in Petaling Jaya, who were
told to make way for upgrading works, have bought themselves extra time.
MBPJ ordered the stall owners to vacate the area so works to shift pipes underneath the stalls could take place.
The 10 hawkers, operating along the road shoulder since the 1970s, said it was not the right time to move due to Covid-19.
Hawkers’ representative, Md Ismail Kassim, 51, said the hawkers were willing to move when the pandemic situation improved.
Sayuthi, after listening to the hawkers’ plea, agreed to postpone the relocation for the time being.
Meanwhile, two old multilevel carparks in Petaling Jaya New Town were finally fitted with lifts.
MBPJ spent RM1.38mil to instal the lifts at Kompleks A in Jalan 52 and Kompleks C in Jalan Sultan.
In the past, the public, especially senior citizens, complained about difficulties faced in securing a parking spot in Petaling Jaya New Town.
Kompleks A and C carparks, which have about 400 parking bays, did not appeal to the elderly because it was difficult for them to use the staircase.
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