TRANSIT took note of this article in which the CEO of the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) acknowledged that they did not attend a public meeting in Kajang but stated that they did not do so deliberately and that they had only received notice of the meeting two days before.
SPAD: Absence at meeting not deliberate (The Star)
Thursday March 17, 2011
THE Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) said their absence at a meeting initiated by the Kajang Municipal Council (MPKj) was not deliberate as the invitation reached them two days before the event.
SPAD chief executive officer Mohd Nur Kamal said the commission had asked to postpone the meeting scheduled for March 10 at the MPKj town hall as the relevant spokesman was not available on that day.
Mohd Nur was referring to the meeting attended by Kajang residents, Prasarana, MMC-Gamuda where the residents gave their views on the MRT project. [TRANSIT: We thought Prasarana pulled out 2 days before and MMC-Gamuda were no-shows as mentioned in the cleverly-titled article.]
“SPAD received a letter from MPKj on the evening of March 8, requesting our presence for the event on March 10 at the Dewan Bandaran MPKj.
“As the relevant spokesmen were not available due to the short notice, we immediately requested for an alternative date.
“ Unfortunately, we did not get a reply and to our regret, the meeting went on,” Mohd Nur said in a statement yesterday.
He said SPAD was taking all necessary steps to reach out to residents, especially those living along the proposed MRT line.
He said an open day for the public was organised on Feb 13, and this was immediately followed by public displays of the rail scheme and plans at seven locations.
The public displays will be on-going until May 14.
“During this period, we will also be organising on-site sessions with the communities along the proposed alignment to provide information on the project and to get their feedback.
“To highlight our commitment in reaching out to the residents, SPAD has organised at least five meetings with various residents associations and community representatives over the past month,” said Mohd Nur.
[TRANSIT: It is quite possible that some of the attendees at the Kajang meeting thought that it was one of the public meetings organized by SPAD]
He added that they would meet the residents of Kajang and looked forward to organising another meeting to discuss their concerns soon.
Mistakes are made, this is true. That is, as the saying goes, ‘why pencils have erasers’
And we at TRANSIT can certainly try to forgive SPAD for not attending the meeting in Kajang. After all, having 2 days notice is often not enough advance time to prepare, especially when you have to make a good-quality powerpoint presentation and have a trained (and patient) speaker available. Public meetings are tough, often tense, and the lack of air conditioning in most venues does not help.
But in truth, it is not for us to forgive SPAD – it is the people who attended the meeting in Kajang – who came with the idea that SPAD would be holding town-hall meetings and would be there to engage the public on the MRT proposal – that SPAD has to ask for forgiveness.
Let’s be honest here. The expectations of the public are high, and their expectations of their government are very, very high – and there is no reason why this should be considered wrong – since the public grant the government the privilege of leading society on behalf of the public.
But TRANSIT was promised that SPAD would be ‘better than the rest’ and we hold no shame in demanding that they be the best.
Which means that they promised that various existing problems with public perception of SPAD, of the government, and most importantly, of public transport, would disappear.
Now, we were not expecting things to happen overnight, but if they cannot manage the issues & challenges of dealing with the government and dealing with the public (for something as simple as a town hall meeting) then how can they expect that public to have faith in them?
And that is the biggest problem that the Malaysian Government and its agencies like SPAD have – an increasingly obvious lack of public faith in their government institutions (and government-linked institutions as well).
And finally, we have to be honest – we have been called on many occasions to attend public and private meetings with 2 days notice (sometimes less) and we have always done our best to show up.