Tuesday, April 8, 2008

What Angsana flats taught me...

Last night, I visited the Angsana flats in USJ 1 with my husband and 4 other friends. This place is a hot spot for dengue cases. The appalling state of this place saddens me. Has anyone of you been there? We walked 3 hours visiting homes of widows and orphans, dirty dark stairways, dysfunctional playgrounds and wet and stuffy lifts.

We had to exit the lift at each floor to check if we had arrived as the floor indicator in the lift is no longer working, no one knew which floor they were at each time the lift doors opened. The stairways were dark (thank God for the flash from my camera) and polluted with strong urine stench. Rubbish bags were seen dumped at the already-very-narrow-walking-lanes. The fire safety compartments are broken and the fire extinguishers have disappeared! The very rare kids' playgrounds are also in bad shape. Some abandoned shoplots located on the ground floor of the flats are terribly filthy. The windows are gone, the floors are wet and bags of rubbish are scattered on the wet floors. View photos here.

I also visited the home of Rainah and her 4 boys. Rainah lost her husband in January this year. He drowned at the abandoned project site at USJ 1. After deducting the rental of her flat from her monthly income, she's left with about RM300 to provide for the boys.

Mariammah who looks after her 3 boys on her own also shares a similar story. I noticed a broken old cassette player in the living hall. When asked if it was still working, she said yes! According to her, they still use it to listen to RTM radio. When I visited her kitchen, I also noticed a broken ceiling fan. She said most of the equipments at home were donated by others who moved out of the flats.

I also met a 12 year old orphan who HAS NEVER BEEN TO SCHOOL! She is without a birth certificate.

I was also asked to visit a family with 5 children. The second child stopped walking 2 years ago. The third child then became blind and is also crippled. They have sought medical treatment but till today they do not know what has caused this disability.

I had difficulty sleeping last night. I thought to myself, what must have gone through the minds of these little ones, to once have sight and then to see nothing but darkness, to once be able to run around and play but now is bound to just sitting down. I was elected by not just the rich or the middle-class residents in Subang Jaya, I was also elected by these less fortunate residents. I am a wakil rakyat for all and hence I must ensure I speak up for them as well. One month after election (still awaiting swearing-in), I have been asked to look into many issues, each group telling me their respective concerns should be my priority.

For an ADUN representing an urban constituency like Subang Jaya, I want to challenge the mindset of the "comfortable" group to look beyond their own circle, to love their neighbours as they love themselves and be mindful that there are residents in our midst who are struggling to have a decent living and some basic clean amenities. Some of us spend RM200 a meal but these homes rely on RM200 for an entire month to put food into the mouths of 5. What a stark contrast! I am working closely with MPSJ to ensure dengue cases decline. I want basic sanitation to improve. I want to ensure every child here has the opportunity to go to school and no child dies of undernourishment.

If your children do not appreciate the education they have, complain of the toys you buy for them and the lack of visits to fancy restaurants, please remind them of their blessings. If you hear your friends complain of the houses, cars and jobs they have, please remind them of their blessings. I thank God for the "little" I have and the new given responsibility to make a difference in these lives. If you want to help these families, please e-mail me and let's make Subang Jaya a better home for all residents.