The BMC barricade is down again, and the Selangor government is calling for an EGM for Grand Saga, and Cheras completes another Warsaw uprising style revolt.
What is it about Cheras people?
People will talk about the IT savvy Kelana Jaya peeps, the environmental conservationists around Bukit Gasing and country-club members of Hartamas, but people always put on a large quizzical look when it comes to cheras people. Who are they? And why do they always fight over tolls?
I’m a cheras boy. Still am. Despite all the traffic, simple malls and unsure roads. Let us re-trace Cheras.
Up to the start of the 80s, Cheras was only up to Taynton View and a very basic road serviced it. KL stops there, and the next township is Kajang. Kampungs and older ad housing like Suntex in the middle.
And the mushroom begun. Every main exit led to clusters of disorganised housing projects. Last count there are about a 1000 housing projects in Cheras, chaotic middle and working class mostly with smalls isles of the affluent.
1990 was the toll year. It takes more than an hour daily to inch to KL on the Cheras crawl, and when they finally get around to widening the road and place flyovers, they place a toll for 1RM by the graveyard. Ominous sign, as the peasants revolted which should be celebrated as the first fight by Malaysians against big-business and its friendly politicians. DAP led, the demonstrations and mass civil disobedience worked as the toll was suspended. You have to lift your hats to the DAP guys. 1990 Malaysia was a scary place as Mahathir was at the height of his power with Operasi Lalang and the sacking of the judges.
A later compromise resulted in the toll rates halved to 50 sen.
About the same time, the Jalan Pahang toll was erected. There is a story that the candidate for Batu, Alex Lee of Gerakan ( son of H.S Lee) promised the population no toll if he wins. And sure enough, while he was MP, the erected toll booths were not collecting toll. Things are often stranger than fiction in Malaysia, and it did underline how far political patronage can go in the country.
Many people have told me, that Cheras residents should wait until the Selangor government and Grand Saga come to a resolution. However I am not sure if people there just waited things will happen. Cheras folks have a natural mistrust of politicians, governments and companies. Anyone not a resident of Cheras really.
We tend to fight for our bits. Plus we rarely vote BN.
We don’t have a direct LRT even if we have the numbers, and our people are likelier to take trains. Our bus services are largely jokes. And when Grand Saga widened the roads, they placed two toll stations within 5 kilometres of each other.
I think the point is, don’t mess with Cheras people. They are not pansies. They can take their punches and stand strong. And we’ll still be in Cheras when Grand Saga closes shop.