Illegal to bar others from
17/05/2004 The Star By Egalite,
The good people at Desa Seri
Hartamas have many things going for them. Their houses are well built with
spacious gardens and a central playground. This is enhanced by the housing
estate sitting on a choice location.
A few years ago there were many burglaries and snatch thefts as the place
was rather isolated then. The residents rallied around to combat this
intrusion into their tranquillity and security. They hired private security
guards to patrol their grounds.
They were among the first in the country to do so. Things were well again.
Desa Seri Hartamas was an exemplary housing development and its value
Employing security guards is perfectly legitimate so long as they know their
limitations. But that does not seem to be the case here.
Initially the security guards only patrolled the area which I believe is
about all they can do under the law.
As time went on, however, they became bolder.
There were many instances when they trailed visitors.
This was later taken a notch up when they began to question people passing
through, which one can only put down to the guards looking for something to
do or to kill boredom.
On one occasion a guard actually asked me to move on when I had stopped to
answer my cellphone.
Things took a turn for the worse when temporary barricades were placed on
the roads leading into the area, narrowing it such that it became a problem
entering and leaving.
These barricades were then extended completely across the roads during
school hours, denying parents access through the area to the school nearby.
Residents of this housing estate have taken the law into their own hands.
Recently, my daughter complained of a sore throat and as it was past nine in
the evening, I decided to go to the pharmacy in Desa Seri Hartamas which
opened until late.
Well surprise! Desa Seri Hartamas has now become a gated housing estate.
A metal barrier with the swing mechanism has been built. A guard at the
barrier refused me entry as I had no resident's sticker.
While I was explaining to the guards that they had no authority to block a
public road, a resident who was returning home, told me that I had no right
of entry to "his" housing estate as I was not a resident.
Just like other housing estates, Desa Seri Hartamas is a public area that
became so when City Hall took over the administration of the development.
The streetlights, roads, grass verges, garbage disposal and sewerage are all
managed by the local authority.
Being a public area, anyone has the right to visit, stay and drive through
Desa Seri Hartamas. The attempt by the residents to make it their private
enclave is illegal and a breach of the constitutional rights of other
I sympathise with the residents that their area invites unnecessary visitors
and traffic as the business centre next to them is today second to none in
The principle is, if you cannot accept it you have the option of moving out
but not the option of keeping others out.
City Hall should not be lulled by the security argument in allowing
residents to break the law nor condone it by turning a blind eye. This is a
breach of city by-laws and the freedom of other Malaysians.
If this is not nipped in the bud, a whole movement to barricade themselves
by other housing estates will ensue; it has been replicated in Medan
Damansara nearby. Next, these residents may decide that having come so far,
they may as well go all the way and, start collecting toll to help pay the
Since I live in a cul-de-sac, all I need is a single guard to start a
similar operation. Where then will all this lead us to?