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Paying the price
The Star 16/1/2006

Residents say Petaling Jaya Municipal Council has no right to increase assessment rates. They claim that residents are being penalised for the councl's faults. After all, RM60mil has yet to be accounted for. And, 13 pieces of land are nowhere to be found.

MPPJ administrative centre's front lawn in Jalan Yong Shook Lin was done up two years ago with impressive landscape features and trees. 'The entire frontage has been redone again this year,' says one resident. 'And, it looks very expensive.'

ASSESSMENT is a distasteful word these days among Petaling Jaya residents following Petaling Jaya Municipal Council’s (MPPJ) plans to increase it by 10% this year.

Council president Datuk Ahmad Termizi Puteh reasoned that the hike was to balance the budget, giving estimates of expenses, but not the actual accounts.

The increase is not mandatory yet. It isn’t until MPPJ’s notice on the increase is given to residents.

However, some residents aren’t waiting until the notice to voice their dissatisfaction.

They are already going on a signature campaign to register their protest.

Coordinating the campaign is Section 5 Residents Association for the PJ Selatan constituency and Taman Mayang Jaya Residents Association for the PJ Utara constituency.

“We are not writing in to protest just for the sake of protesting,” said Section 5 Residents Association chairman Edward Lee.

“The protest is part of the legal steps that residents need to take to establish that there is a protest to the increase in assessment rates.”

Reasons for the protest

It is the right of the local government to raise assessment as provided under the Town Planning Act 1976. So, why should PJ residents even initiate a protest?

Assessment rates are based on the valuation of holdings and properties, and any increase should be accompanied by a valuation list. Residents can challenge if they feel the list is inaccurate.

Section 5 RA legal advisor Derek Fernandez gave additional reasons why PJ residents should protest the increase.

The Auditor-General report for 1992 and 1995 for MPPJ indicated that there were RM60mil worth of assets unaccounted for and 13 pieces of land that could not be located. MPPJ has not issued a statement on these losses.

Rental rates have fallen in most areas due to over-development and many residents do not see any justification for the increase.

The population increase in PJ over the years should account for more ratepayers and more revenue.

Some services formerly provided by MPPJ, like sewage treatment, have been privatised. Residents are now paying the same rate for less service.

MPPJ has not provided a detailed account of their expenses to justify the increase.

On the last point, Fernandez said, MPPJ was not a private company and should have no fear of people scrutinising the accounts.

“Tell us what you spend your money on,” he said. “Maybe we can help you to spend it more efficiently and avoid controversies like the missing assets amounting to RM60mil.

“In fact, if MPPJ can prove that they have spent our money efficiently with surplus cash in the local authority fund, the people would be more than happy to demand that those in office be given a raise (with that excess money) for the good work done.”

(Taxpayers’ monies are channelled to the Local Authority Fund vested in MPPJ and is used to provide services and facilities for the public.)

Ineffective and inefficient expenditure can be seen at Damansara Uptown. The hawker problem is not completely solved, as there are still some 300 hawkers who are demanding that they be relocated to Mentari Business Park.

While MPPJ waits for Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo to make a decree, MPPJ officers have to stand guard till midnight to ensure the hawkers do not set up shop. The officers are paid overtime.

Another example of inappropriate spending, as pointed out by PJ resident Victor Oorjitham, is the MPPJ administrative centre front lawn in Jalan Yong Shook Lin, which was done up two years ago with landscape features and trees.

“The entire frontage has been redone again this year, and it looks very expensive,” he said.

It has been done before

People who are doubtful that a protest would do much should know that residents have successfully blocked a proposed rate hike for 1998.

Oorjitham, a one-time Section 10 Residents Association president, had voiced a protest on behalf of the people in his neighbourhood on Dec 22, 1997, in The Star by listing out the reasons why an increase was a bad idea.

“The increase was eventually abolished,” said Oorjitham.

“Today, the cost of living has gone up and the people most affected (by an increase in assessment) are the hardcore poor and the lower income people.

“The price index has soared and the income level hasn’t gone up in tandem with the price increase.

“As far as services go, they have deteriorated and numerous complaints have been made and publicised but it seems that there is no systematic follow up to the complaints. How can MPPJ justify an increase in assessment if it doesn’t provide services?”

Condo owners should protest too

The current assessment rates for condominiums in PJ are far too high compared with landed properties and are based on rental values that are no longer justifiable.

Even though the announced 10% increase does not affect condominium properties, Maxwell Towers residents association chairman Dr Ho Chai Yee is urging condominium owners to lend their voices to the objection.

“About 15 years ago, people were willing to pay high rentals because of the scarce supply then. The scenario has changed since then.”

Pressed for time

Taman Mayang Jaya and Taman Megah RA chairman Liew Wei Beng said residents should protest quickly to avoid administrative hassles later on.

“It will be very difficult for both ratepayers and the council administration to resolve it then.”

Word has it that MPPJ’s notice would go out in two weeks’ time.

Residents who are interested in filing their protests should contact their association representatives or e-mail Liew at or Lee at


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