Sunday, February 07, 2010

'Sedaq' to protest until Malay stakeholders are no longer 'ignored'

Penang Malay Chamber of Commerce president Rizal Faris Mohideen said the 50-member coalition of Malay groups 'Sedaq' (Aware) will hold more protests until the Penang government takes steps to consult Malay groups on issues that affect the community.

This is because figures within the government were inclined to ignore them until the issues were taken to the streets, said Rizal.

“In the meetings that we had over the issue of local government, we had advised the state government to always consult with the stakeholders before deciding on a course of action or policy.

“Yet, they have not heeded our advice. That's why we went to the streets. To get the power of the people to correct the wrongs of the state government,” he said when contacted.

sedaq protest against penang government 050210 rizal faris  mohideenRizal (right), who was among those who led a 300-strong gathering on Friday to demonstrate against the DAP-led government of Lim Guan Eng, said the move by a DAP state assembly member to lodge apolice report against his organisation reflected its arrogance.

“Looking at the response of the state government after our demonstration, they do not appear to regret their way of governing. There seems to be no positive indication on their part that they want to right the wrongs. Instead, they lodged a police report against us.

“Therefore, I am of the opinion that this coalition Sedaq should hold more gatherings that will pressure the state government until the Malay community sees there are positive changes within the state government,” said Rizal.

From one month warnings to 24 hours notice

He said one particular issue of contention that drove the protests is the announcement some weeks earlier that the state local government and traffic management committee would reduce the number of notices to illegal traders from three in one month to only one warning.

petaling street traders 140306Under the present enforcement system, illegal traders are issued first a 14-day notice, then a 30-day notice, before finally being given a 24-hour demolition notice.

The government plans to replace the present system with one whereby the demolition exercise would be carried out within 24 hours of the issuance of the first notice.

Rizal said such an announcement reflected the “arrogance” of the state government, given DPMMPP and many others had called for more discussions between the government authorities, small traders and other stakeholders on the issue of illegal structures.

“If your intent is to tweak policies to fit current times, then you should have consulted with all the relevant stakeholders, such as DPMM, the various traders associations, the small traders, hawkers, and so on.

“Get feedback on your ideas and discuss them with the stakeholders before you announce how the by-laws and policies are going to be change.

How did you come about making this decision? How is it that you can come up with such a policy without having consulted with our (DPMMPP) members?” asked Rizal.

“This is the kind of dictatorial manner of governance by Lim Guan Eng that we are complaining about,” he added.

Race card

On claims that DPMMPP and Sedaq were playing the race card and inciting racial tensions, Rizal said the coalition's aims are to the contrary.

“We are not affiliated to any political organisation, neither is there some hidden hand behind us. We want to see an equal share of wealth and power among all races. We want to see a situation where the minorities in Penang are given the opportunity (to prosper).

“Currently, we see a great (income) gap between the races, and if this goes on, it will be an unhealthy state of relations between the communities. We want to close that gap, because unless it is closed, the frustrations will lead to the build up of a time bomb.

“By addressing this, it's not just for the Malays. We're doing it for Penangites in general,” he said.

NONEWhen contacted, Datuk Keramat state assembly person Jagdeep Singh Deo who lodged the police report yesterday, said the issue remains that DMPPMM and other groups in Sedaq had erroneously alleged the government was discriminating against the Malays.

Citing earlier reports, Jagdeep said only 38 percent of the hawkers against whom action were taken in 2008 were Malay- as opposed to Chinese and Indian hawkers who made up the remaining 52 and 10 percent, respectively.

Even fewer Malay hawkers in terms of percentage had action taken against them in 2009, compared to hawkers of the other races, Jagdeep added.

“The issue is one of enforcement against all illegal traders based on the law, regardless of whether those who violated the laws are Malays, Chinese, Indians, Punjabis or others,” said Jagdeep

“In the days leading to the demonstration, many of the local tabloids contained reports that misrepresent the state government and alleged that it enforced the laws along racial lines.

“You cannot make such rash and harsh statements like this and accuse the state government of racial discrimination. This is criminal defamation. We want the police to investigate DPMMPP.”

Jagdeep declined to speak on the policy issue regarding notices raised by Rizal, saying it is under the purview of the state's local government and traffic management committee chairman and DAP Penang chairperson Chow Kon Yeow.

When contacted, however, Chow declined to comment.

news courtesy of Malaysiakini

No comments: