The state of Mahkota Cheras controversy has deteriorated into a farce when the Federal Reserve Units (FRU), equipped with water cannons and all, were deployed by the Grand Saga Highway concessionaire to construct a barricade across a road which has been proven by the Hulu Langat Land Office in a letter dated April 22, 2008 as belonging to the state.
While it is comforting to note that the Menteri Besar, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim has acknowledged, as per the Star report yesterday that “the residents had the right to use the access road without having to pay toll”, it is disappointing that he had not taken a stronger stand on the issue, and in fact had not dealt with it much earlier when the FRU was first deployed, or even before that.
This has resulted in the situation clearly getting out of control, with a fracas between the residents and the FRU units in the wee hours of the morning 2 days ago (see video here), and a Member of Parliament lying in the hospital at this point of time, having been assaulted by the police.
It is critical that the new state government demonstrate political will and determination to stand for what is right and just, without fear or favour, instead of wavering in uncertainty or adopting a “we will look into it” or “we will have to discuss further” culture which is reminiscent of the previous Barisan Nasional government. It is of great concern that Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim had qualified his statement on the “right of use” by saying that the state government must also take into consideration that the toll is the source of revenue for the company.
With the state ownership of the land no longer in dispute, the local government, in this case the Kajang Municipal Council (MPKj), must take all necessary actions to prevent illegal structures from being constructed on state land.
If an enforcement officer does not hesitate to compound a car parked temporarily but illegally on a state road, why should MPKj decline to take action, via compounds and summons, against the parties who are erecting a permanent structure in the middle of the road? In fact, any party who persist in constructing illegal barriers, in the face of compounds issued, must be charged in the court of law.
As the old adage that we members of the opposition is so fond of using, “justice must not only be done, but seen to be done”. The rakyat will be understandably discontented if the government enforces the law against the man on the street, while allows room for negotiation and delay when commercial interests are involved.
It is hence critical that the Menteri Besar of Selangor demonstrate much greater urgency in the matter, without letting the situation deteriorate further than it already has via inertia. If the first night's deployment of the FRU against residents who wanted the law upheld has not injected such urgency, then we certainly hope that the second night's deployment would have.
The new state government is being given certain leeway to perform by the people of Selangor. However, it will quickly lose its goodwill if the people's interest are not given priority.