Saturday July 25, 2009
Councillor’s appointment draws criticism
AFTER the second group of seven Petaling Jaya City councillors were sworn in on July 22, there was speculation on who would take up the one remaining vacancy.
Disabled councillor Anthony Thanasayan was pleased to find out on Thursday that he had been reappointed to serve the PJ people for another year and has accepted the position.
StarMetro also received a letter from the All Petaling Jaya Residents Association Coalition (Apac) speaking out against the appointment of Thanasayan.
Chairman Liew Wei Beng said that Apac had received several complaints against Thanasayan regarding several issues.
“We are of the opinion that Anthony is not capable because he does not respect council procedures,” said Liew.
Apac had raised issues concerning the installation of a tactile block for the blind on an already completed disabled-friendly pavement costing RM180,000.
“We are concerned why good money was spent on an already completed pavement when it could have been spent elsewhere, and minding the fact the expenditure did not go through due process of financial governance at MBPJ,” Liew said.
Liew also expressed dissatisfaction over an issue involving a centre for mentally-challenged children who are unable to fit into the mainstream educational system.
“He interfered in the application of the centre to convert its property into a JKM (Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat) licensed centre even when it was finally approved by the MBPJ Mampan (Sustainable Development) committee,” Liew said.
Liew said many disabled groups had also approached Apac alleging that Thanasayan was misusing the MBPJ van meant for ferrying disabled people around the city.
“He uses the van to carry out his official MBPJ duties, which leaves the van unavailable for other disabled people,” said Liew.
He said every councillor, whether able-bodied or disabled, should be treated equally and should use their own transportation and not the council’s facilities for their own benefit.
“The mobility van is for the disabled community, not the disabled councillor,” Liew said.
Thanasayan rubbished the allegations, saying that he had achieved many ground-breaking firsts for the disabled community in his one year of service.
“My record speaks for itself. I initiated the car park for the disabled in Petaling Jaya, which was the first of its kind. It has a roof and alarm, and it also takes into consideration the caretakers of the disabled,” he said.
He added that he also pushed for the MBPJ to issue car park stickers to the disabled, and this initiative had since been taken over by the state government.
Thanasayan said he was also looking into new guidelines for homes for the elderly and disabled.
“Previously, they had guidelines but the council wasn’t stringent on their checks. Some don’t even have proper disabled-friendly toilets,” he said.
He said the pavement along Jalan Gasing was of universal design and many other local councils did not even have proper barrier-free facilities.
“It is a model for our city and we will do it in other areas, too.
“The MBPJ OKU committee was hardly moving anywhere and I got it going again. I also got people with other disabilities, like the deaf and the blind, to be involved,” he said.
He said he would also continue to realise his vision of having car parks for the disabled all over Petaling Jaya.
“All these are groundbreaking work. I’m working with people who can make a difference, including the councillors. The council staff has also been very helpful.
“With those people making the allegations, there’s jealousy and it’s unfair to me,” said Thanasayan, whose assigned zone was under the constituency of Bukit Gasing assemblyman Edward Lee.
Lee said Thanasayan’s contribution towards the community was well-meant but not always been well-thought out.
“I have received several complaints about how he has tried to implement international standards for accessible buildings that were not very practical in the Malaysian context,” Lee said.
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