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Why MBPP officers were right to clamp the car

November 23, 2017

Writer adds however that there are avenues for the complainant to appeal to the council to refund the fine on justifiable grounds.

COMMENT

Lim-Mah-Hui-Penang-Island-City-Council-clamped-the-car-of-Ooi-Chee-Lin-1By Dr Lim Mah Hui

On Nov 20, enforcement officers of the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) clamped the car of Ooi Chee Lin as it was parked in a slot reserved for disabled people (OKU). When she came out, pushing her mother in a wheelchair, she reportedly refused to pay the fine which was eventually paid by a friend before the car was unclamped.

Were the two MBPP officers right or wrong in carrying out their duties? Could they have exercised their discretion in removing the clamps and cancelling the summons?

Normally, I am of the view that officers should be able to exercise common sense in carrying out their duties. However, in this case, the standard operating procedure (SOP) of the council does not allow for such discretion, and for good reasons as explained below.

Under the present SOP, once a vehicle is clamped and a summons issued, the staff has no discretion to unclamp or cancel the summons until the fine is paid, either to the officer on duty, or at the council’s office, upon which an official receipt must be issued.

This is done to prevent opportunities for corruption or accusations of unfairness in carrying out one’s duty by members of the public. As an ex-MBPP councillor, I support this SOP.

There are, however, avenues for the complainant to appeal to the council to refund the fine on justifiable grounds, which I think would apply in this case.

I have no idea of the conversation that took place between the officers and Ooi. Perhaps both parties could have handled the situation better – the officers’ communications skills could have been better, as the mayor said.

On the other hand, members of the public should be more understanding that when they break rules, enforcement officers should carry out their duty. There should be no altercation. We have seen too many cases of irate members of the public scolding and even attacking enforcement officers for carrying out their duties. This type of behaviour must stop.

In this case, the mayor has graciously met with Ooi and her mother to explain the situation to them, and has said that OKU passes will be issued to them.

The matter should rest there.

The last thing we need is for MCA to politicise the incident and accuse the council of clamping cars “to make money off the people”.

Strict traffic rules must be enforced for the good of the public.

Dr Lim Mah Hui is a former MBPP councillor.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.


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