IN recent years, the USJ neighbourhood in Subang Jaya has become a fortress of sorts with more and more residential areas putting up barriers and boom gates at their entrances.
Some even have their boundaries fenced up to stop intruders from entering their territories.
To complete the picture, there are also smartly-dressed security guards stationed at entry points. For most of the residents, such gated and guarded security schemes give them peace of mind, for they know they can rely on the guards to keep the neighbourhood safe.
They agree that the crime rate has dropped drastically after the scheme is implemented, thus convincing those who were skeptical at first.
These schemes were usually put into place when many of the residents fell victim to rampant crime cases and USJ 5 is no exception.
USJ Residents’ Association president Melvin Lee and his USJ 5 neighbours kickstarted their neighbourhood watch programme in 2002 before bringing in the security guards two years later.
“At first, the intruders came in at night so we had our daily night patrol. Then, their modus operandi changed, so we looked at security company for larger surveillance,” he said.
Initially, the guards were stationed at USJ 5 for 12 hours from 7pm to 7am, but once the crime pattern became more unpredictable, the residents decided to expand it to 24 hours.
Today, the neighbourhood is fenced up with an impressive guard house facing the main road.
USJ 3A, B, C and D implemented their guarded scheme about four years ago after getting the green light from most of the residents. Those who were unwilling to subscribe to the service might be seen as freeloaders but as neighbourhood watch chairman Jason Lee observed, some of them decided to join after seeing how effective the security system was.
“We have also seen some buying food for the security guards,” he said.
The USJ 3B resident added that his neighbourhood has zero-crime now and the residents are satisfied with the results.
USJ 11/3 is another succesful example of the gated and guarded security scheme, although it drew strong opposition from some of the business traders in the neighbourhood.
Their extensive and detailed security plan has most of their 11 entry-exit points closed for the whole day or during certain hours.
Aside from the perimeter fencing and soon-to-be-added CCTV cameras, guards are also stationed at four gates to monitor the vehicles and people who enter the neighbourhood.
Residents’ association chairman Ng Peng Hin said the scheme had instilled confidence in the residents.
“When we first started the scheme last year, about 100 households had moved out due to the crime rate.
“Now, most of the houses are renovated and inhabited — a sign that the residents are here to stay,” he said proudly.
Ng observed that the scheme had made USJ 11/3 a close-knit neighbourhood with residents actively participating in activities like tree-planting and joint-patrol with the police.
Recently, areas such as USJ 11/4 and USJ 3/1 had meetings to kickstart their security schemes.
USJ8 police station officer-in-charge chief inspector Loi Yew Lik, in one such gathering, told the residents that the scheme was effective in curbing crime, although zero-crime is not guaranteed.
Subang Jaya assemblyman Hannah Yeoh stressed that gated and guarded scheme should only be an interim measure while waiting for the Home Affairs Ministry to increase the police force to safeguard the nation.
She is also calling for a review on the guidelines drawn up by the Selangor Housing and Property Board as some are not relevant in today’s situation.
“For instance, the current guidelines allow the residents to put down the boom gate from midnight to 6am only, but most crime cases happen during the day.
“In some housing areas with too many inlets and outlets, the residents have no choice but to close some entrances. But the guidelines specify the need to place a guard at such spots, which is not financially feasible for the residents,” she said.
Yeoh said she had raised this in the recently concluded Selangor state assembly but the feedback was that the current guidelines were sufficient.
“However, Selangor housing, building and squatters committee chairman Iskandar Abdul Samad promised to call for meetings with the residents to get their feedback,” she said.
Yeoh would also be pushing for a meeting at the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) to listen to the residents’ views.
“The police will also be invited to give their endorsement on the scheme,” she said.
Jason said the government should frame a policy soon to legalise and formalise the gated and guarded scheme.
“We are doing the government a favour actually by cutting down the crime rate.
“If they forbid us to implement such schemes, they should improve the security of the nation,” he said.
Melvin, on the other hand, advised residents’ associations that intended to implement the schemes to do a lot of homework before enlisting the help of the security company.
“Visit other areas where they had set up the scheme to gauge their services. Then, constantly monitor their performances and communicate with them.
“Also, be prepared to change them if their services are not up to par — we have changed our security company once when they slackened and did not respond to our warning,” he said.
“And most importantly, never overpromise the residents. If not, they will feel dejected and eventually drop out from the scheme,” he added.
Related Story: Residents take safety into their own hands