From his recent Facebook postings I can see that my friend and colleague in Parliament, YB Tony Pua, member of Parliament for Petaling Jaya Utara, seems quite upset, in particular, with two division level leaders of PKR from Kelana Jaya division, naming them as “a Samy” and “a Murali” and calling them “gangsters” and “disgraceful thugs”.
He also claimed that “this Samy and his gang... charged exorbitant rentals to traders at the traditional site for the Deepavali bazaar in Sungei Way”.
Tony also said that “a group of gangsters led by the same Samy and Murali” heckled him as he spoke to the Tamil press in front of the Easwari Temple in Sg Way on Thursday.
Having watched the videos of the incident (in particular the KiniTV video) and read the Malaysiakini accounts dated Oct 15, 2015 and talked to some of those present, it seems to me quite clear that the heckling started after the crowd present which included traders understood that Tony had just said to the media present that he was opposed to any bazaar at the original site in Sg Way village and, second, that the move to Easwary Temple area was necessary to stop certain persons from committing extortion of the traders at the original site.
These unfortunate accusations are all arising out of a proposed relocation of the Deepavali bazaar traders in their original site in Sg Way village to the new site next to the Easwari Temple. Tony and his assemblyperson YB Lau Weng San are in favour of this move. Many traders are strongly opposed to it, saying that it jeopardises their earnings from their stalls.
My advice to both Weng San and Tony is that such matters are best left to the judgment of the Datuk Bandar of Petaling Jaya and his councillors. We should not interfere unless the decisions made at the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) are clearly unreasonable or obviously wrong or against stated policies of the Pakatan coalition.
Tony and Weng San would also know that a majority of the MBPJ councillors have in fact already proposed to the Datuk Bandar a win-win solution where the Deepavali bazaar for Sg Way would be conducted, for this year anyway, at both the original site (where it has run for 15 years at least) and the new site near Easwary Temple (as a trial run for evaluation ). This would also be known to many of the traders involved.
Therefore, my advice would be, rather than make controversial public pronouncements on the matter, let us leave this to the Datuk Bandar of MBPJ and his councillors to resolve.
I also wish to point out that the DAP is now again in a formal coalition with PKR and Amanah, a move which we have all welcomed. We must therefore manage complaints about one another ‘s members in the spirit of coalition building. If there is evidence of wrongdoing, we should present it to the leadership of the party concerned. I must make this clear - if there is evidence, PKR will not tolerate such misconduct and will take the necessary action.
However, making unsubstantiated serious allegations that extortion is taking place without specifics (as was discernible in the video) does not assist at all. Name-calling aggravates the accused persons further. The video shows some of those present demanding evidence from Tony and for which there seemed to be no immediate response.
That has now resulted in those Tony accused and some other traders filing police reports at the Petaling Jaya District Police Headquarters yesterday against Tony in defence of their reputation. This is also an unfortunate development.
First time such allegations made
The Deepavali bazaar in the original site in Sg Way has been operating there for at least 15 years. Since Pakatan took over from 2008, I am not aware of any specific complaints to MBPJ or police reports made by traders or others since 2008 alleging extortion of themselves by third parties. Last Thursday appears to be the first time such allegations are being made in public to justify moving the bazaar.
If there is any such evidence implicating our members, then we would urge Tony to present it to the party.
Then, on Friday, certain DAP leaders organised a press conference where one Indian gentleman appears to be complaining that he has been prevented by from running his stall in the new site at Easwary Temple. He also complained that K Saminathan had prevented him from getting a stall in the original site. Such allegations can and should be taken to MBPJ or even the police for them to investigate.
On the other hand, I am told that traders at the Deepavali bazaar original site who were present at the IPD Petaling Jaya yesterday made statements to the media that they have no experience of any form of extortion and having to make exorbitant payments.
PKR will not tolerate any proven criminal conduct on the part of its members, especially the misconduct alleged by Tony that acts of extortion are being perpetrated.
PKR regrets very much that Tony was subjected to the angry and rude statements that were hurled at him when he went to the Easwary Temple to do his press conference on Friday. However as a experienced member of parliament regularly handling people’s grievances, I am sure that Tony would appreciate that people who perceive proposed changes as threatening their meagre incomes can react emotionally and aggressively.
Some of these traders are having great difficulty understanding why Tony and Weng San are insisting that the bazaar move to the new site when the majority of the MBPJ councillors have now proposed the win-win solution that it can operate in both sites. When one insistently waves the proverbial red flag at an angry bull, it is naïve to expect the bull to sit patiently and watch.
My friend YB Tony Pua has done sterling work (and continues to do) on critical national issues such as 1MDB. He should concentrate on those issues and leave more mundane issues, like as in this case, about where a Deepavali bazaar should be located, to the appropriate authorities to decide.
We have far bigger battles to fight. We need to remove Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and end the corrupt oppressive and inefficient rule of Umno and BN. Let us remain united and focused on that.