I drove my mother yesterday to the small town of Batu Gajah to pay her bills on a hot sunny day. It was like any other usual day when anyone would pay the bills except for today, i was with my mother who would usually do the chores on her own. While she paid for the taxes,she was complaining about how much we had to pay for the house in Batu Gajah, the yearly assesment of the house was, shockingly very expensive, amounting to RM1000 per year! My parents have been paying that amount for years since we did not live in Perak before, and thought it was how much we were supposed to pay. But as the years went on, and we asked around more, it was impossible that such a place could amount to that much. A house in Kuala Lumpur had a yearly assesment of only RM400, and another house in the outskirts of Selangor reached up only to RM200. This was absurd!
After a few moments thinking about whether or not we should deal with this problem, we decided that we should just face the music. Besides, Majlis Daerah Batu Gajah was just around the corner. My mother told me, don't be shocked when you see the building, it looks like a hotel. In my mind, i did not picture it to be like what i actually saw. The building was huge, every single detail was given to its architecture and landscaping, spacious parking lots were strewn everywhere. I could not believe my eyes! Batu Gajah town was a far cry from the Majlis Daerah building, there is a lot of rubbish, the buildings look dilapidated and the roads are not as magnificent as the ones leading to their office. To make things worse, the Majlis Daerah building is situated right beside the Batu Gajah library, the library was another distant cry from that majestic building. It is a small wooden kampung house, converted into a library.
When we walked into the vast offices, the very cold air conditioning system greeted us. There was no one at the counter, even after we buzzed the bells a dozen times. Some officers saw us, but went on going as if we were not there. Finally, someone came to our assistance, after a long wait, and said, there is a meeting going on. But if there is a meeting, why does everyone have to go, even the people who are supposed to be at the counter. On a good note, when we filed our complaint, they were effective in finding out the problem. It turns our, our yearly assesment was only RM200, but somewhere along the way, someone had charged our bills amounting to RM1000. Isn't that a big difference, and my parents have been paying that amount for more than 5 years, (we were told that Majlis Daerah does not keep any archives for more than 5 years, all the previous records were deleted)
When I asked about the library, they said, it was not under their jurisdiction. Then who does the library belong too? The people. Who should be in charge of the peoples welfare? I think you know the answer to that.
I am in the medical field, and to tell you the truth, i am aghast at the situation i faced that day. Have you ever walked down the halls of a government hospital, and compared it to the majestic halls of Majlis Daerah, then you would know the difference. In a government hospital, the doctors do not even have enough space for their own desk, some have to share the same cubicle, meeting hundreds of patients a day. When i walked in the Majlis Daerah, it was so huge, you could hold tea parties there, and no one would notice it. It has been happening everywhere and everyone is turning a blind eye. The lament about the mistake of our assesment is just a small complaint. For me, the most important thing i see is the unfairness and injustice that we, the rakyat has been done. The people of Malaysia has been paying high taxes, hoping in turn to get a beautiful country, no rubbish, lush green parks and well planned towns. But what i see here, is that all the money is sent to Majlis Daerah to beautify its buildings, landscape its horizons and only partially give back its responsibility towards the people.
I walked out from Majlis Daerah Batu Gajah with a very sad heart. If this is what is happening to our country, where libraries are not important and the people are not well taken care of, and that things would turn for the better one day. I still have high hopes in Malaysia still being a thriving country, lets pray my hopes are not dashed.