Disabled hawkers row: Tony Pua should check his facts (Letters, Malaysiakini)
I am shocked and outraged that my name was dragged into a press conference by DAP MP Tony
Pua recently, as reported in Star Metro's article 'MP comes to MBPJ Councillor's defence' (March 16, 2011).
I was accused by the MP of failing to attend a hearing meeting held on March 8 by MBPJ over the Taman Megah market controversy where five disadvantaged hawkers, including a woman in a wheelchair, complained that they were being harassed and intimidated to give up their legally obtained slots to another place.
If Pua had checked his facts - like any responsible person would have done - before issuing public accusations, he would have not only discovered that not only did I not receive an invitation, but I was specifically told by MBPJ not to come for the meeting.
I was asked to attend the usual Mampan meeting (for councillors) instead, where I could present my views.
Another completely false accusation by Pua against me is that I did not discuss the issue with the zone councillor for the area.
If the MP had bothered to call me personally, he would have found out that I had spoken to the councillor concerned well in advance and given her my strong advice against any attempt to forcibly relocate the five hawkers, which unfortunately, only fell on deaf ears.
In fact, it was Pua who had failed to verify my side of the story before attacking me in public.
I had rung up DAP Selangor chief Teresa Kok who had promised me that Pua would call me back to get a clearer picture of the issue, but no call came through from the MP.
As a councillor with an expertise on disability - and who is disabled myself - I am puzzled and saddened as to why my views on the matter particularly with the disabled hawker was never sought even once by the councillor concerned or the MP.
I am particularly concerned because I understand the reason why Pakatan chose me as a councillor was to deal with and offer advice on disability, which I have been doing from day one since I was installed three years ago.
The reason I got involved in the case is because the disabled victim approached me for help. I was also asked to represent MBPJ and receive a memorandum from the group because the affected hawkers had lost their confidence with the area councillor.
I was also present when police reports were made against the councillor to reassure the victims that MBPJ and the Selangor government would never tolerate discrimination of any sort from anyone.
I am happy to report, however, that justice has finally prevailed with MBPJ declaring that all the five hawkers should remain where they are with no one pressuring them anymore to move from their original slots.
I sincerely hope that what has happened will serve as a sober lesson for us all to be brave and take responsibility for our actions - especially when we fail; instead of trying to find scapegoats.
Anthony SB Thanasayan is Petaling Jaya City Council councillor.
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