It has been a love-hate relationship for me whenever I go to Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur at night. In the past 5-8 years, I’ve noticed a group of people operating illegal parking services along the stretches of restaurants, bars and clubs in Telawi area. If you frequent the area, you’ll know that it’s close to impossible to find a parking spot around that commercial area without having to pay a hefty parking fee in Bangsar Village I and II.
Since I live close to Bangsar, I usually shop, eat and socialise with my friends there. However, it has become such a nuisance for me everytime I am lucky enough to find a parking spot along one of those roads at night. Since they are public roads, one has to pay a decent parking fee through a vending machine which charges about 20-50cents an hour and after 6pm, it’s free. But since it’s Bangsar, it’s never free after 7pm because a bunch of men have started making business out of it and who are these people?! Nobody knows because nobody seems to question them.
About a year ago, I was meeting some friends in La Bodega for dinner and by some miracle, I found a parking space just right across the restaurant. (Whenever I manage to find a parking lot close to where I am going, I feel sad giving up the space when I’m done and that shows how grateful I am towards such small miracle!) As I turned off my car engine, a man approached me and demanded RM10 for parking fee. If there is one thing which bothers me, it’s extortion and that night, I decided not to give in to such illegal demand, although it’s only RM10. So needless to say, I got into a squabble with the man and I didn’t make any effort to be polite. So was the man. The bottom line was, I just walked off without giving him anything.
When I reached the restaurant, I asked to talk to the manager to enquire about the parking business operating outside the restaurant. He told me that the business is illegal and there’s nothing anyone can do. They have reported to the police a couple of times but nothing has been done. What a great surprise, eh?
I must confess that throughout dinner, I was occupied with the thought of someone slashing my car tyres or scratching my car. Being alone, the thought of driving back to my apartment with the possibility of a flat tyre left me feeling uncomfortable and uneasy. At the same time, the feeling of being at the mercy of people who think they can do whatever they want made me angry and unrepentant.
When I got home, I wrote a letter to my district assemblywoman, highlighting the problem but I guess she has more important things to do than my petty squabble with people who are trying to make a living. For me, that was still besides the point. The fact that this bunch of people just stand there at night and all they do is help direct your parking (as if I won’t be able to park my car unless someone is there to help me!) and then ask for RM10. It’s very different from jockey service, mind you. It’s flat on easy and illegal business. With the number of cars parked there every night, I’m sure they earn more than 100% of profit margin after subtracting the bribe they pay the police.
This happened a couple of times more and the latest one was just a few days ago. Again, I was relentless and yet the same feeling of paranoia and discomfort occupied me the whole night.
Truly, I’m just fed up with how things are. I realise that this is just a petty issue but in the end, it just boils down to how our whole law enforcement system doesn’t work and how people are often threatened into submission because we know deep down that the system doesn’t work and hence, we’re on our own. It’s us against these thugs.
I wish that more people will not give in to these so-called parking attendants. Once they realise that they can’t make money out of it, hopefully they will disappear and let us have our right to free parking space without feeling hassled and insecure. Bangsar is already a prime target for petty crime without the need to pay for a miracle.