Tuesday, May 13,
Where residents look out for each
By K. ANURADHA
ARTHUR Koh’s typical day
involves helping his neighbours solve their problems. To some it
may seem a tiresome, thankless job, but he does it with zeal.
Anything from traffic to security
to a power disruption, everyone in USJ 16 takes their problems to
It does not faze this doyen of USJ
16, who is still able and active at 70, to make his night watch
rounds with his neighbours.
To him, the neighbourhood is
something close to his heart and something to care for, having
lived in USJ 16 for almost four years.
A community party in progress in
The neighbourhood is yet another
chunk of residential estate in the heart of Klang Valley’s
arguably largest middle-class suburbia – UEP Subang Jaya.
With almost 600 link-houses, it is
easy to be anonymous in this neighbourhood, especially since many
of the owners are busy professionals and businessmen whose jobs
keep them outside of their homes most of the day.
What separates USJ 16 from others
is its occupants’ commitment to keeping their neighbourhood safe
Towards this end, a lot of
community activities take place in the neighbourhood. Daily tai
chi classes, regular pot-luck parties, recycling drives, dance
events are just some of them
“We try to get in touch with all
our neighbours and maintain rapport, because this was how it was
like in the olden days,” said Koh, a veteran of the British army.
Ironically, all the closeness
stemmed from a common worry – numerous break-ins and thefts. Not
so long ago, USJ 16, like its neighbours, was ripe target for such
The residents then got their act
together and night patrols, conducted by the residents themselves,
kicked off three years ago. Since then USJ 16 has become a safer
place for its residents.
“The robbers are smarter these
days. Break-ins occur occasionally and only at homes where they
know they can find loot,’’ said architect Anthony Lee Tee.
Wicked humour and backslapping
camaraderie reign during the nightly patrols, done by driving
around the neighbourhood in four wheel drive vehicles fitted with
police patrol flash lights.
Once the rounds are done, it is
teh-tarik time when they head for the 24-hour Stadium Nasi
Kandar where they trade stories and sometimes network over a cup
of coffee or tea.
Anthony Lee, is not only a member
of the neighbourhood patrol, but his commitment to USJ 16 is
iron-clad, or rather cement-clad.
He designed and built a largely
timber gazebo that today serves as a meeting point for the
residents. The structure is a shady area to rest after long walks
and jogs, but more importantly the RM100,000 gazebo is a symbol of
USJ 16’s pride and community-togetherness. It is where
neighbourhood pot-lucks are held, and when it does, everyone
brings their own plates and cutlery.
The chairman of the neighbourhood
watch, who wanted to be known only as Ong, said it was initially
hard to get the neighbours to participate in community activities,
but once they did, there was no holding back. Today, 180 residents
are involved in the neighbourhood watch.
“They see the few sleepless hours
of the night as a small payment,’’ he said. “It is like a payback
for the rest of the months when they can go to bed feeling safe.’’
Tarlochan Singh and Jumahat Subaree
do not live next to each other. Thanks to the neighbourhood watch,
they are now thick of friends.
“The watch helps foster good
relations among neighbours and is the main reason that we are so
involved in our community,” said Tarlochan Singh.
Even as Star Metro visited
USJ 16, a dance activity was in progress. The womenfolk were
exercising and sweating it out doing the line dance.
“We have two main sessions weekly
and anyone interested can join us.” said a regular, Ng Mei Ling.
There are some two dozen women who are part of this group, and the
number is steadily growing.
USJ 16 may not be the best
neighbourhood on earth, but the laudable part is they are doing
everything they can to get there.