Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights

APRIL 22 — There is that often used tale to get the “count your blessings” message across.
About the man who always complained about his lack of shoes until he met someone who was an amputee.
It is good to remember that sliding into self-pity is not going to change things, and it is true, so many people have it worse than you.
But community change must always be about community driving it.
The history of tyranny has always been equally about the power of the tyrant and the inability of the community to act.
Most often the strength of the tyrant is built on our acquiescence.
Now to the less rhetorical
In Dengkil, our municipal business centre “medan niaga” (it is far more modest than it sounds) has about 40 lots, and many of them are empty.
And there are many applicants for those empty lots.
However I cannot help these applicants since the lots “officially” have been rented out.
There are abundant number of shop space all over Dengkil, the reason why there is much demand for the medan niaga is down to its low rental, RM150 per month.
It was intended to engender economic activity for the more capitally tight entrepreneurs in the area, and these are the people applying for the space.
So the mystery revolves around why are those who have won the right to rent the available lots in the “medan niaga” not running a business there?
I can only venture to guess. That they are seeking to re-let the place to those who have no ability/connection/information/support to win it themselves.
The rent has been doubled to at least one of my resident liaison committee member, who pays because he has to.
It’s a small town, so the locals can work who are these absentee renters.
However neither the population nor the town council are willing to act against those who just hold on to the lots with no intention of using them for their own business undertaking.
When I query the matter with council officers, they work hard to buy time and reduce the gravity of the problem.
When I turn to the residents and ask them to file formal complaints against those who are just seeking to live off their back, for nothing, they shrug.
It is a familiar shrug and the answer the same. If I name names, I will upset people.
But is it not upsetting to have these people living off you, and have the cheek to ask for a fixed income in exchange for nothing?
Another one of my committee member wanted to help his nephew who had a horrific accident and has disabilities. The lad was sincere in wanting to start a business.
Yet without the assistance of his community to point out rental abuse, can I pursue an agenda to remove the absentee renters and replace them with bona fide occupants.
Otherwise I am stuck in a stalemate. They are stuck also in this stalemate.
Which draws back the point, how can communities want change, if they intend not to upset those who have set themselves to abuse them?
Not sitting on me hands
Despite none coming forward to lend a voice to what is becoming a grudging effort for me, I’m still sticking it to those in charge, cajoling them to revoke the rental agreements, and reopen these lots.
These lots mean a lot to a group of people, desperate to start their own small business.
And the general population are keen to have a proper medan niaga to create and activity zone for the community.
They’d be very animated when they describe the situation orally — residents and potential applicants . They just would not sign a document indicating their disdain.
So, it’s not back to square one, but it is a slow charge up hamburger hill.

3 thoughts on “Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights

  1. Compel lot owners to monthly meetings at the Medan Niaga. Short one hour meetings during work time that would not upset people who are actually working there, but will annoy those who are seeking to make money through rentals.

    Meetings are about the running of the Medan Niaga, something each lot owner has a stake. Health, cleanliness, expansion, interaction with the council etc. Owners have an obligation to show up because the issues discussed are relevant to them, and they are benefiting from low rent – subsidy by tax payers. If owners don’t show up for 3 meetings (without proper reasons), revoke their rental agreements and put them up again.

    Put a list of owners in Medan Niaga (just a like a business directory in an office complex – very professional, in line with the vision of Dengkil) that lists the names of the lot owners. Once names are in the open, people might be more likely to point them out (or least express their distaste using selective vandalism).

    Maybe also analyze the business practices there and see if people can use their space more efficiently and thus share with another genuine applicant (depending on their business plan) thus increasing their income and giving someone else an opportunity. Give permits for stalls around the Medan Niaga (if possible) that is cheaper than the rental of lots, so people who don’t need fixed infrastructure can move out.

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