I was quite excited to learn that the Selangor State Assembly had passed the bill on March 5, 2006 to pave the way for Petaling Jaya to become a city on June 20. (The Star report)
In 1996 or 1997, when the then Menteri Besar, Tan Sri Mohamad bin Mohd Taib, informed the house that Selangor was applying for Shah Alam to become a city, I rose and said that in fact Petaling Jaya was more qualified than Shah Alam in view of the criteria required and it should be considered first. Mohd Taib was honest to agree with me but he further said that as Shah Alam was the state capital, the state government would apply for the city status for Shah Alam first. It took about 3 years for Shah Alam to be proclaimed as a city in 2000.
Even for now, I still hold that Petaling Jaya is more qualified to be called a city than Shah Alam. Shah Alam was made a city by the state government with all the state resources pouring into it and with its territory being arbitrarily extended. But Petaling Jaya made itself a city and a truly city. The Petaling Jaya folks should be proud of themselves.
However, I discovered an oversight last week when I attended court in Petaling Jaya. It suddenly struck me that Petaling Jaya needed a proper and decent court house with proper jurisdiction and a public hospital.
It may be a surprise to many but the cruel fact is that there is no civil court in Petaling Jaya! All civil matters within the jurisdiction of subordinate courts, namely the Sessions Court which has the jurisdiction to adjudicate matters involve disputed sum below RM250,00.00 and the Magistrate's Court which has the jurisdiction to try matters below the sum of RM25,000.00, will have to be filed in Shah Alam courts. I have yet to come across any city in the world that does not have a civil court within its local jurisdiction.
The present court house for criminal matters is in a pathetic condition. The Sessions Court and Magistrate's Court (1) and Court (2) are housed in the main court house with court (1) in a container-like structure and court (2) at the first floor of an old buiding within the same compound. Magistrate's Court (3) is in the Federal House building about 500 meters away and the Municipal Court is being housed under the MPPJ multi-level car park next to the hawker centre also about 500 meter from the main court house.
The multi-storey building behind dwarfs the one-storey PJ court house
Magistrate's Court (1) in a container-like structure
The swampy car park
Perhaps, the Federal Government should enlist the new court house for Petaling Jaya in the first year of its 9th Malaysia Plan.
Another obvious oversight is the public hospital. Although the University Hospital is accessible to the Petaling Jaya residents, strictly speaking it is a hospital within the territory of Kuala Lumpur. If the Federal Government could spend millions of Ringgit to built a public hospital in the scantily populated Putrajaya, there is no reason to disregard the need of the densely populated Petaling Jaya City.
Let's hope that the 9th Malaysia Plan will do justice for Petaling Jaya City.