Noraimah livelihood destroyed
Coffeeshop torn down amid business
Noraimah could only cry as her coffeeshop was torn down by the Alor Star City Council yesterday. What hurts her more was that she had just prepared the dishes for her afternoon customers and her four children aged between three and 15.
Noraimah Othman, 43, said she was cooking when she saw a convoy of six lorries and six pick-up trucks from the Alor Star City Council, Land Office, Public Works Department, Tenaga Nasional Berhad and police with two excavators passing her shop at about 9.30am.
She said she saw the convoy heading to a shop at Jalan Seberang Kota, about 200m from hers, and tearing it down.
“I thought my shop would be spared as it was on the Kampung Seberang Kota mosque endowment land. I was surprised when an officer from the Land Office came up to me and said they were going to pull down my shop. I was helpless and could only cry as I looked at the cooked fish curry and fried fish,” she said.
Noraimah, however, admitted that she had received a notice to move out two months ago. Noraimah, who operated the coffeeshop with her husband Mohamad Ariffin, 52, was among five operators here whose premises were torn down in an operation led by Kota Star District land administrator Che Barni Md Noor. Asked why Kuala Kedah was targeted instead of an illegal township and the many illegal structures in Alor Star, Kota Star Land Officer Mohd Zaini Ramli said enforcement action would be carried out in stages to remove all the structures.
The Law vs Equity
What the council was doing was in accordance with the law. But law are made to protect the society, to provide a system of natural justice, and to ensure every citizen can live in peace and harmony.
What the council had done was 'doing things right' which is contrary to 'NOT DOING THE RIGHT THING'.
Law are legislated to protect the people and not to destroy them. A government is elected by the people, to provide for the people, and to protect the people from injustice. Is the council doing justice?
What Noraimah had done was not a crime in itself, but an inchoate offence. She doesn't deserve the destruction of her property which will cause her much more hardship. What her family had benefitted from the shop is to earn a few hundred ringgit a month to feed the children and keep everyone in her family alive. By destroying her property, she will be left with nothing to survive upon.
No one who is financially capable will want to set up an unauthorised shop. If she had the financial capability, she would have rented a shop to manage the business. It is because she doesn't have the money to do that.
The authorities should have look at an alternative to provide her a place to do business that will help her to earn a meagre living. Is that asking too much of the government? Can't they be more sympathetic towards the poor?
Noraimah, and many others like her are trying to earn an honest living. Why can't the system and those officers in the council think of ways to help these honest and poor people?
We are not propagating that the system should allow crimes to exist right in their eyes. But inchoate offence is not a crime. The system should manage to uplift the people's livelihood if they are desirous of an honest living, such as that shown by Noraimah.
The irony is that, those rich who had acquired wealth by illegal means are protected by the law enforcer, while those who are from the lower income group are facing the brunt of the law.
The 4-D operators, the prostitute shops, the bookies, the drug peddlers, etc; these people have the money to shut up and shut out the enforcers - read the Commissioner's report on police corruption, Michael Soosai case and Kudus case.
Pak Lah should come up with directives on council enforcement. Don't let them harass Pasar malam operators, unlicence coffeeshops and foodstalls. Let these people survive or alternatively, provide them with a place to earn a meager living. Be emphathetic towards them. Think, as if they are your mother, what would you have done? Would you still tear down the shop? Pak Lah has a son and a son-in-law that is worth hundreds of million. At least, if you can't donate some to them, don't destroy them in the name of LAW and enforcement. Be human. Jangan Cakap Tak Serupa Bikin.
At least Noraimah is not selling drugs or stealing from anybody. She is unable to find an alternative but to run a shop in this manner. Until she has earned more than her expenses, she could then be able to save some money to pay the rental for a shop and pay to get a licence from the council to operate. At the meantime, why don't the council give her a notice that permits her 2-3 years from now to save some money to pay the rental and setup costs for a shop?
Can we Malaysians contribute to help her?