P’ng Cheng Mei from The Children House in Ipoh is a licensed operator currently facing opposition from residence in the vicinity and is facing the threat of having her homes shut down.
P’ng claims that two of the four homes have been in operation since 1997, another one has been in operation since 2004 and the final one has been renovated for expansion of The Children Home yet is still inactive. The four houses in Taman Sri Dermawan in Ipoh have been converted into a Kindergarten, nursery and childcare centers respectively.
In an extensive interview with Citizen Journalists Malaysia (CJMY), she stated that the earlier owners of the residence around the area had no objection to the establishment however, new owners who bought over the houses surrounding the four childcare centers are raising objections despite her trying to discuss an amicable solutions with them.
She claimed that two of the four houses were Kindergartens with nursery services while the other is a childcare center are all licensed. However, the newly renovated home has its license withheld because she was informed by Majlis Bandaraya Ipoh (MBI) that four of the 12 residence in her vicinity had raised objections against her establishment.
When CJMY spoke to Ahmad Jailani, one of the four residents opposing the childcare centers, over a phone interview, he claimed that traffic congestion in front of their houses made it hard for them to come in and out of their homes freely alongside noise pollution by the children and the usage of loud speakers to address them. Bad traffic flow seemed to be the predominant reason behind the protest against the childcare establishment and their please have repeatedly fallen on deaf ears.
The residence then took it upon themselves to pressure MBI to force the childcare centers to be shut down and brought the issue to MBI Planning division’s attention in November 2010. The Planning Division subsequently rejected the operation of the center, a decision made in favour of the residences.
However, the operator, P’ng Cheng Mei, appealed against the decision and the MBI Corporate division then approved operations to continue in August 2011.
The residence continued to protest against the approval and brought the issue to a MP and lawyer, who acted on they behalf and filed a case at the Perak State Appeal Board of planning.
They then find out that approval was granted based on the support of the rest of the residence who had no opposition to the establishment. They were told that a certain Mohd Ghazalie and others supported the establishment when in actual fact, no such resident existed in the area.The opposing residence questioned as to why they were not informed off or called for a meeting before the approval was made.
On 10th, May 2012, The Appeal Board had a hearing for the resident’s complaint against MBI but the operator was not called in as the appeal was by the residence against MBI.
The verdict of the hearing found that the establishment guilty of breaching two sections under the Town and Country Planning Act 1976. S21(8) & S46. Town and Country Planning Act 1976.
The Appeal Board instructed MBI to stop the operation of both two out of the four houses.
To date the operator had not received a written letter from the MBI. When asked the operator came to know after reading the Chinese daily, and confirmed through telephone inquiry. According to the lawyer, the MBI should act immediately after the verdict. As a result some press reporters were badly insulted when they appeared at the door-step of the center the next morning.
However, the operation is still running as the operator feels that the shut down of the center it will affect many families who are using their facilities. The operator held a press conference on Tuesday 15th May, 2012 to challenge the verdict. At approximately 1pm, the operators had a peaceful protest at the front of the center with them parents of student, parents of ex-students, neighbours using their services.
Thereafter, the operators had a press conference highlighting their predicament. According the the childcare operator, she had been given a license to run the operations of the place for the last 15 years with both MBI and the consent of neighboring residence as Nurseries an pre-schools can only be operated in residential areas.
Apart from that, P’ng question the protection of the industry and the validity of suspension after being in business after 15-years. The question of losses follows suit as investments have been made in those houses to run the business via renovation and the likes. Apart from the list of counter arguments she had, P’ng said that efforts wee made to improve the traffic flow in the area. Also, she appealed that consideration be given to the children, parents and teachers who depend on the establishment.