KUALA LUMPUR: Youths were said to have played a major role in delivering victory to Pakatan Harapan (PH) in the 14th general election last year, but today some question the wisdom of their choice, saying they are still waiting for the government to make good on its promises.
Sharlyne C, 23, was one of the young people who went to cast their vote on May 9 hoping for a new Malaysia.
“Now, a year after achieving this much-awaited change, and after all the promises made, especially to the people of Kuala Lumpur by our prominent MPs, it seems as though they remain as powerless as they were under Barisan Nasional.
“It is disheartening in particular to see my neighbourhood in Taman Tiara Titiwangsa under constant threat from developers who seem to have ‘friends in all the right places’,” she said.
She recalled that when the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of residents on March 13, she was overjoyed as it was understood that the battle had reached a conclusion which favoured the people.
“It meant that the institutional land proposed for the project would be spared from becoming yet another unsustainable high-rise,” she said. However, Kuala Lumpur City Hall is appealing the decision at the Federal Court.
Sharlyne also urged the PH government to honour the residents’ wish that the land remain as it was gazetted for – a community centre and football field.
This, she said, was an opportunity for PH to make good on at least some of its election promises.
“Perhaps it would be possible for the youth and sports minister to lend us his support to turn this plot of land into a community hall and basic sports centre. Or perhaps Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad could have the land turned into hospital quarters or even a research centre,” she said.
She also suggested a third option: to retain the land as a reserve for government use in the future.
“These are not unreasonable suggestions. But we don’t want another giant tower that comes without proper supporting infrastructure. I cannot say with confidence that my vote will go to PH in the next general election. Perhaps someone who can deliver will get my vote,” she added.
Priya Menon, 25, who lives in Kuala Lumpur, agreed that the elected MPs were not living up to their promise to ensure Kuala Lumpur would be a more liveable city.
“I used to jog in Taman Eko Rimba Bukit Nanas. The forest reserve is a unique one because it is right smack in the middle of the city centre. But lately, I can’t help but notice that there isn’t any wildlife. No more frogs or even birds. I used to be greeted by monkeys but I don’t see them anymore.
“The last I heard, they want to develop a plot of land in the vicinity of this forest reserve. We talk so much about eco-tourism, yet the federal territories minister is not trying to protect this forest reserve,” she said.
It was reported that China Vanke Co Ltd had torn down a row of eight two-storey derelict pre-war houses called Serani Row there.
The development, a flagship project, will feature six multi-storey towers – two 80-storey towers (936 units), two 66-storey towers (1,548 units) and two 60-storey towers (1,404 units) – for a total of 3,888 serviced apartments. The 13-storey podium will include 10 floors of parking bays and three floors of retail lots.
Another youth, Jeremy Chan, 31, also expressed disappointment over the Taman Rimba Kiara development.
Chan, an auditor who resides in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, said not only was the matter badly handled, the federal territories minister had “turned his back” on the residents’ pleas.
“I’m disappointed because the minister was unable to resolve the issue. The worst is that he washed his hands of the matter and left it to the Cabinet to come up with a solution.”
Mina Vern, 31, an accountant who travels frequently, voiced her discontent over the recently enforced departure levy.
“Many Malaysians now find it easier to travel with affordable flight fares, and all of a sudden, the government decides to impose this fee.
“Some of us travel to meet with family abroad and some travel for work. I don’t think it’s fair to impose the fee on Malaysians. We are already paying airport tax. This is too much,” Vern said.
Copywriter Chan Ming Han, 27, said he saw no difference in the process of hiring a domestic worker after PH came to power.
“My aunt was recently looking to hire a domestic worker. She found that it is still as expensive, with the cutthroat agency fees required to be paid. What is the minister doing?” he asked.
Meanwhile, Jamilah Mohamad, 25, a marketing executive, said many of her friends were still struggling to land a decent paying job.
“A lot of employers now only want to hire contract staff or offer trainee positions. Everyone is cutting back as the economy isn’t improving,” she said.
Jamilah was referring to the promise made by Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman that he would help youths secure jobs and reduce the unemployment rate in the country.
A Taman Melawati resident and teacher, Intan Maisara Ramlan, 27, said every year, a new concrete building is completed in her area but without a significant number of tenants moving in.
“One year it was the Serini Melawati (38-storey-high condominium) – it used to be a green open space. The following year it was the Melawati Mall (also a green open space). At the corner, there is the Melawati Corporate Centre, formerly an open car park. It’s quite empty but they are building some more,” she said.
Ange Tan, 31, who lives in Taman Amansiara, Gombak, is still waiting for the Selangor government’s decision on a proposed housing project in the vicinity of her neighbourhood, which will mean degazetting part of the Bukit Lagong Forest Reserve.
It is understood that the Selangor State Development Corporation got approval from the then-Barisan Nasional-led state government in 2003 to develop 23ha of the forest reserve.
“From what I’ve heard, the development order has already been issued. After all the protests, the Selangor government is keeping quiet.
“We don’t want the development because it will endanger the residents who are living in Taman Amansiara now. As it is, there are abandoned projects. Solve those first, otherwise don’t build anymore,” she said.
A Jalan Gombak resident, S Thipen, 29, said the government should not announce anymore low-cost or affordable housing projects. He noted that of a few plots of land marked by the government for Rumawip (Wilayah Persekutuan Affordable Housing), one was in the Gombak wet market, or Pasar Besar Gombak.
“It has been more than a year now, and there is nothing done there. The residents already lost a piece of history and the convenience of buying their groceries from this market.
“Address these previously proposed projects. Stop allowing mixed commercial projects where you make the developer build a block of affordable homes in exchange for 50-storey high-rise condominiums,” he said.
In 2018, a study found that youths, despite having voted overwhelmingly for PH in GE14, were wary of the new government and would consider supporting other political parties.
The preliminary findings of Iman Research’s “Youth Perception on New Malaysia” study showed that youths were likely to switch their support to other parties that presented better suggestions for growth and progress.
The study also found that youths were more concerned about what politicians could offer them rather than the party they represented.