Yesterday evening, I had joined Members of Parliament for Gelang Patah, Seremban, Rasah, Bakri and of course, Kota Melaka and Bukit Katil to visit and protest the UMNO’s political vengeance against Malaccans by opening Jonker Walk to motor traffic.
The visit and protest has attracted hundreds who unanimously demanded that the Melaka state government withdraw the order to the Melaka City Council to open Jonker Walk which has become a celebrated tourist landmark in Malaysia, famed for its weekend night market.
The protests expressed over the past week by various parties have resulted in the Melaka Chief Minister backtracking and twisting the rationale and decisions to open up Jonker Walk.
While initially Datuk Idris Haron had told Kwong Wah Daily that the move was to “fulfil the people’s wishes” in reaction to MCA candidates being defeated by DAP, now he claims that the move has nothing to do with political retaliation, and everything to do with easing traffic congestion in Melaka City.
The twist and turn was so fantastic, he claimed that he has to resolve the severe congestion caused by Jonker Walk which results in up to a 4-hour journey from the city to the Ayer Keroh toll plaza. We would like to inform the Melaka Chief Minister that our journey from the city to the toll plaza yesterday, despite the crowded Jonker Walk, took us all of 30 minutes.
In addition, despite the ban on street traders which was explicitly stated in the state government directive to the City Council on 12 June 2013, Datuk Idris Haron declared 2 days ago that there was no decision to stop the street market and the 300 or so traders can continue their activities.
The above decision is not only a shocking half-reversal, it’s completely irresponsible. Datuk Idris has only retracted the decision to “ban” the night market traders, he did not retract the decision to open up the road. This means that all the market traders who are displaying their wares and goods on the road side as well as the tourists and customers will be facing the risk of being knocked down by on-coming traffic.
The visit to Jonker Walk also reaffirmed our fear for the safety of the people when it is clear that there is no way a car can pass through the road with the traders on the streets, what more reopening the road to two-way traffic!
Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz had rightly ticked off the Melaka Chief Minister that the road is named “Jonker Walk” and not “Jonker Drive”, and insisted that the tourist destination be kept as such. In fact, Melaka government’s convoluted and senseless decision to make it both a “Walk” and a “Drive” puts at risk the safety of tourists, residents and traders. We will hold Datuk Idris Haron fully responsible for any untoward accidents happening as a result of opening Jonker Walk to motorised traffic.
The new Melaka Chief Minister must act like a leader and not a petty, cowardly politician. We are more than happy to fight “politics” with BN in the state assembly or in parliament. However, let’s keep politics out of the interest, safety and livelihood of the people of Melaka and Malaysia. The Melaka state government must immediately withdraw the order to re-open Jonker Walk to traffic during weekend evenings, and not wait for someone to get seriously hurt.