Madam Vilasiny Govindan, 66, loves the little patch of land outside her home in Kelana Jaya. She has tended to the garden that grew organically and ensured the plants and trees growing there are well-maintained. She has done such a good job of it for the last 25 years since when she first moved into the new SS7 housing development that she was awarded the Honorary “Ibu Angkat” for the fire hydrant that sits on that patch of land by the Jabatan Bomba Malaysia, for her efforts in keeping the place tidy.
So, it was with a heavy heart that she witnessed how the MPPJ/ Landscaping Unit hacked through the trees, plants and flowering shrubs in the name of clearing fallen branches. The incident began when Madam Vilasiny’s daughter, Ms. Prema called MPPJ to inform them of fallen branches outside the house on Monday, 23rd September 2013. She was asked to call the Landscaping Unit, who promptly informed her that it would take a few weeks to clear and that they would only prune trees planted by MPPJ. Since the branches that fell were from the tree planted by MPPJ, they said they would send someone at no cost to the house owner.
The landscaping workers arrived the next day and instead began to chop off another tree which was next to the MPPJ tree. These contractors who work with the MPPJ were unapologetic and even ignored Madam Vilasiny, who pleaded with them to stop hacking since the tree was in good shape. She added that she had her own gardeners to prune that tree. She added it was the other tree (MPPJ’s) that was falling apart and that tree should have been pruned instead.
The supervisor mocked her and dismissed her by saying that they were following orders to chop off both the trees. One of the trees was planted by MPPJ 25 years ago when the housing estate was built. That tree needed to be pruned as its branch had fallen off. The other tree, a relatively young Neem tree of about 10 years grew on its own. It was these trees that provided cool shade to Madam Vilasiny’s home, and the neighbours and their cars. Indeed, these trees have been recycling carbon waste and providing much needed fresh air in the growing wasteland of industrialization in Kelana Jaya.
Many huge, old trees have been felled in the area to make way for the LDP construction, Giant Supermarket, Paradigm Shopping Mall, Kelana Business Center, Glomac Business Centre and parking lots for Western Digital among others over the last 15 years.
Madam Vilasiny is deeply disappointed with the ignorant actions of the contractors in question. They had no respect for the trees and the habitat that is now lost for five species of birds who lived on them. When the supervisor in charge of landscaping, En. Azizan, was contacted by phone, his response was, “What’s the fuss. It’ll grow back again.” When Ms.Prema further informed him that the fuss was because she needed the leaves for this Indian holy month, which included Navarathri and other prayer festivals, the contractor told her to go look for Neem leaves in other places if she needed it so much.
The sad truth is, it may take another 10 years for the tree to recover since it has been hacked quite extensively and all shade is gone. It is a shame that the Selangor state government which speaks of environmental conservation and “Going Green”have given their landscaping contracts to ignorant, unprofessional people who do not know how to do landscaping. This was evident in the way the tree was chopped up. Madam Vilasiny stated that because she made a fuss, they stopped halfway; otherwise they would have culled the tree till it was nothing more than a stump.
Madam Vilasiny and her family are at a loss as to why the workers committed such a horrendous act.
- They wonder why the workers chopped a tree not planted by MPPJ. Previously, MPPJ workers would never touch those trees unless they were compensated by the house owner.
- The tree with the fallen branches planted by MPPJ is slowly rotting and still stands untouched.
- Why did they show no restraint despite the house owner’s attempts to advise them of their mistake?
- Why did they think it was alright for them to trespass into Madam Vilasiny’s home without permission? Did they think they could do it because she was in her 60s and there was no one else around? Such bullying tactics make the family wonder if the incident was racially motivated since the Neem tree is sacred to Hindus.
These are questions that the family want answered, questions that are not being answered by the authorities. An official letter of complaint has been sent to the Councillor of MPPJ to inform them of their Landscaping supervisor, En. Azizan’s incompetence as a landscaper and ask for clarification on the matter.