Malaysians are fond of telling visitors that this country is amongst the safest in the world but more homes these days are hiring private guards to keep crime down.
According to government statistics, Malaysia now has more security guards (300,000 from Nepal alone) than it has police officers.
The authorities should welcome such citizens’ initiatives (and money) in fighting crime if not for complaints they receive from some residents (mostly homeowners who think burglars are better repelled by policemen and Rottweilers) that erecting barrier gates on a public road violate their legal right of way.
In September 2010, the Ministry of Housing and Local Government introduced guidelines to explain to homeowners the difference between what it called “gated communities” and “guarded neighbourhoods” and the rules on how such enclaves can be set up under the law.
The guidelines say that unlike gated communities which are legal under the Strata Titles (Amendment) Act 2007 (by making common areas and facilities in landed properties like it does in high rise condominiums), guarded neighborhoods do not enjoy such status. Guarded Neighbourhoods are only allowed on an “ad hoc” or case by case basis after the residents through their own Residents Association (RA) registered under the Societies Act 1966 first submit a proposal to become one to the local authority.
It is unclear what application procedures are involved but the RA’s proposal must have the backing of the majority of the homes. According to the Federal Minister in charge, majority means 51% of homes in the area. But some local authorities especially those in Selangor have other views. They say that under prior guidelines issued in December 2007 by their state land department, the Selangor Housing and Property Board (when Mr Khir Toyo, recently sentenced to prison for land corruption, was State Chief Minister), majority means at least 85% of homes must say yes.
Presently, all states (including Selangor) have endorsed the 2010 guidelines and by implication also the federal government’s interpretation that majority means just 51% or more.
Sadly, the guidelines by appearing to support democratic community decision making do little to solve the main problem faced by RAs in their quest to fight crime which is how to make homes (including those who said no) pay equally since the benefit of a safer neighborhood is enjoyed by all.
The answer may yet be found in the Guidelines which curiously also drew a distinction (but unfortunately gave no definition) between a guarded neighborhood that is “guarded only” and one that is “guarded and gated”.
Kerk Boon Leng
This entry was posted on Friday, January 13th, 2012 at 2:37 pm