IT was a short, curt nod and a handshake from Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (MPPJ) president Datuk Ahmad Termizi Puteh when the All Petaling Jaya Pro Action Committee (APPAC) pro tem committee chairman Edward Lee handed over a memorandum yesterday.
In it were demands that the MPPJ answer to specific issues involving privatisation of billboards in Petaling Jaya, the council’s detailed accounts and the contract for building pedestrian bridges along Federal Highway.
Termizi refused to answer questions and promptly returned to his office.
The council has three working days to reply to the memorandum, failing which a police report would be filed.
APPAC, which represent 41 residents associations and 22 non-government organisations, came up with the memorandum after unknown persons leaked council documents to the residents.
Initially, APPAC representatives were only allowed to send two representatives into the council office for the handover, but residents refused to hand over the memorandum, as it was the council’s Meet the Public session on Friday morning and Termizi had no right to restrict the number of residents who wanted to meet him.
Two APPAC representatives went into the office to convince Termizi to accept the memorandum in front of the public. It was 20 minutes later before they returned with Termizi.
“We feel that much has been hidden from the public eye, and such issues like the signboards involve a lot of money that should be accounted for,” said Lee.
“There is evidence to suggest that approval for the concession was given even before the council debated on it.
“PJ residents really should be rightfully angry in terms of the malpractice,” added committee member Maria Chin Abdullah. “This is not MPPJ’s money, it’s our money.”
APPAC committee member and PJ Selatan Residents Society president Mohd Umar Peer Mohd said the residents wished to thank Prime Minister Datuk Abdullah Ahmad Badawi “because it is only during his tenure that the people can do this.”
Residents who were present for the memorandum handover were equally vocal about their disapproval of MPPJ.
Tengku Nazaruddin Zainuddin said MPPJ's proposal to hand over the billboard concession to one party was unjustified.
“What we want is a clean, honest, transparent and accountable council to administer the city,” said Nazaruddin from Istara Condominium.
Dr Cecilia Ng from Section 4, Petaling Jaya said MPPJ’s proposal to award 15 years of concession relating to outdoor advertising to Seni Jaya was baseless.
She said it was wrong to give one company such a long period of time, especially after the company had, as the memorandum pointed out, earlier put up 80 illegal billboards.
“It is ridiculous,’’ said Ng. “Maybe 20 years ago people were ignorant, but we are more aware of our rights as citizens and we demand an explanation on what is going on.”
Section 6 resident Ivy Josiah said the proposal did not make sense.
“MPPJ has always torn down illegal squatters and extensions but, in this case, the same company had been accused of putting up illegal billboards before.
“We can only conclude that there is mismanagement here and hope that the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) will take action on this.”