No disciplinary action will be taken against the two Penang Island City Council (MBPP) enforcement officers who clamped the tyre of a car parked in a disabled parking space on Jalan Macalister, Penang.
- Caregiver admits to not having OKU card
- MBPP enforcers not allowed to nullify issued compounds or act at own discretion to avoid likelihood of bribery
- Mayor to review SOP
- OKU sticker issued to caregiver
MBPP mayor Maimunah Sharif insisted that the officers were “just doing their jobs” in accordance with the local council’s bylaws, Malaysiakini reported.
“I cannot take action as they were just doing their jobs.
“I have explained this to the owner of the car who was involved in the incident that took place on Monday,” Maimunah was quoted as saying.
In the incident, Eunice Ooi Chee Lin, 40, and her mother Teoh Ah Hon@ Teoh Ah Hun, 72, needed to go to two separate banks on Jalan Macalister to withdraw their savings to repair the leaking roof of their pre-war shophouse. The estimated damage during the recent rainstorm and flash floods to the roof of the house on Kedah Road was RM100,000.
Teoh is believed to have suffered a stroke recently and was wheelchair-bound. She was also recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Unable to find a parking spot, Ooi, a part-time insurance and real estate agent, decided to park her vehicle beside the banks at a spot reserved for the disabled.
Her car did not bear an OKU (disabled) sticker and neither did she display on her dashboard an OKU card from the state Social Welfare Department.
The duo returned from the banks at 2.30pm to find their Toyota Vios car wheel clamped and called the enforcement section for help.
Despite seeing that she was moving her mother in the wheelchair, the enforcement officers insisted that they would only remove the clamp if she paid a compound fee of RM50.
Ooi refused and a commotion ensued for more than an hour.
It was after a bank officer who had served Ooi and her mother earlier approached the MBPP personnel to pay on their behalf that the issue was settled.
A video clip of the incident uploaded onto YouTube went viral, with many netizens reacting angrily over MBPP’s allegedly harsh enforcement of traffic laws.
Ooi subsequently went to the Penang MCA Public Complaints and Services Bureau for help.
At a press conference organised by the bureau chairperson Ooi Teik Liang, she claimed that the enforcement officers were heartless and said they should have been more understanding of her plight.
“I did not want to pay the fine as I had not done anything wrong. I was with my mum in a wheelchair and did not misuse the parking lot, which is meant for the disabled.
“Don’t they have any sense or moral consciousness after seeing us and my mother’s condition? They should have unlocked the clamp and let us go.
“Instead of that, they were asking us to ‘speak to our boss’ and advised us to drop my mother off by the roadside and go park my car elsewhere. Who is going to take care of my mother then?
“It is so cold-blooded, nonsensical, immoral and absolutely not civic-minded of the officers to do so,” Ooi said.
She added that the officers threatened to call a tow truck to remove her car to the MBPP storage area.
She also claimed she had to skip lunch and feed her mother some packed food by the roadside while waiting for the officers to arrive.
Asked if disciplinary action should be taken against the two parking inspectors, Ooi nodded, saying yes.
“They cannot simply just follow the SOP. It was drafted by humans so it is imperfect.
“They should realise that I have a disabled mother in a wheelchair to care for. They lack common sense and have no emotional intelligence. They cannot relate to the ratepayers, thinking we must always pay up when there are special circumstances,” she said.
In the video, Ooi was heard saying that she was in the process of applying for a vehicle sticker meant for the disabled but she admitted during the press conference to not having an OKU card and that she had been so busy taking care of her mother that she had no time to get the city council’s disabled parking pass.
She explained that her mother was just discharged from Penang Hospital on Nov 15.
“I had to get a full medical report in order to register for the card with the Welfare Department. After that, I have to submit that to the city council.
“That takes time as I am the sole caretaker of my mother.
“I have yet to do all that. What are we to do in the meantime while this pass gets processed?” she said.
Nevertheless, Ooi felt she had done nothing wrong as the OKU parking lot was meant to help disabled people like her mother.
Meanwhile, the mayor showed reporters CCTV footage from the council showing that Ooi had parked her car at the lot for about two hours.
“We found out she had come to ask about how to get an OKU parking sticker on Monday after her car was clamped.
“So we have prepared the sticker for her to apply,” Maimunah said, adding that Ooi would need to go to the MBPP office to fill out the necessary forms.
Ooi and her mother later went to City Hall at the Esplanade to meet the mayor.
Maimunah explained to Ooi that the enforcers could not, at their level, nullify issued compounds.
“We will review the guidelines. There could be room for improvement.
“Yes, the enforcers saw your mother was in a wheelchair.
“However, your car could not be unclamped without the need for payment.
“At the moment, that is not the procedure,” she said.
She also explained how an enforcement officer determines if a disabled car park lot has been abused.
She said the council had received many complaints on those who are not disabled using disabled parking lots and hence had stepped up enforcement.
The mayor said those from outstation were usually advised to leave their OKU cards on the dashboard so no action will be taken.
She said if there was no city council OKU parking pass or the Welfare Department OKU card, officers were usually instructed to immediately issue a compound fine and clamp the vehicle.
She said enforcement officers are not allowed to act at their own discretion to avoid the likelihood of bribery.
The mayor said following this incident, the city council’s Traffic Committee will review standard operating procedures when enforcement officers face similar cases and recommend improvements.
Maimunah said MBPP had prepared an OKU parking sticker for Ooi and she needed only to complete the verification process that she was a caregiver and next-of-kin of a disabled person.
“We have expedited the OKU parking sticker for you. If you can just get the OKU card for me, I will give you the sticker right away,” she said.
Ooi then thanked the mayor and told reporters she would head to the Welfare Department to get her OKU card done.
She later told The Star all she wanted was for council enforcers to apply common sense.
“They could see my frail mother in a wheelchair and for them to be blind to that was just wrong,” she was quoted as saying.
It was also reported that the Penang Island City Council will void the parking summons issued to Ooi.
Earlier report: Nov 21, Council Workers Scolded for Clamping Disabled Woman’s Car