By Sherilyn Pang
BANDAR Utama (N36) has a dense population of close to 100,000 residents with 51,504 registered voters as of 2018. The constituency has a mix of largely urban dwellers and pockets of land with rural settlers and Orang Asli. Since her appointment as a state assemblyman, Jamaliah Jamaluddin, who is also one of the country’s youngest leaders, has committed her all towards raising the living standards of her constituency and ensuring that residents’ expectations are fulfilled.
Selangor Journal (SJ): What is the main industry in your constituency?
Jamaliah Jamaluddin (JJ): I would say BU’s commercial areas which contribute immensely to the state revenue. It is a mature township with a vast coverage of public transportation systems and highway networks. The high mobility and traffic significantly contribute to the thriving dynamics of BU and bring sustainable value to the state.
SJ: What is the main attraction in BU?
JJ: People recognise BU for the decades’ old One Utama Shopping Complex. They appreciate the family-oriented atmosphere with many established local and international schools and colleges around and a large community of senior citizens. Places like Damansara Utama and the SS21 are famous haunts for foodies while the modern-concept Starling Mall at Uptown Damansara and its revamped environment have brought in large crowds in recent years.
SJ: What are the concerns raised by your constituents and how do you address them?
JJ: Naturally, residents are concerned about the safety of their neighbourhoods as they are surrounded by commercial centres.
They also care about the traffic congestion, parking, maintenance of recreational facilities and the overall wellbeing of the community.
‘Quality of life’ best describes what the residents of BU yearn for. Since my team took office in 2018, we have worked hard to fulfil their expectations and helped them achieve better living standards.
In 2019, we launched the RM200,000 ‘Taman Selamat Untuk Semua’ (TaSS) grant to assist more than 30 BU residential associations to improve the safety of their respective housing areas. This allocation could be used for the installation of CCTV cameras or solar lighting or to enhance their neighbourhoods’ other security features.
On the one hand, Kg Kayu Ara is a complicated area as it has a mix of residents from the squatter houses, townhouses and condominiums but I am hoping to be able to train and empower the young people there to be more involved in community-building efforts.
We would organise various activities and get them to participate. These activities include food aid programmes, clothing distributions, sanitisation and disinfection operations where they not only serve to look after the locals’ welfare but also build leadership qualities among the young to bring improvements to their local communities.
SJ: What are your achievements so far in your constituency?
JJ: Within the three crucial years of holding office, we have upgraded almost all the main public facilities and carried out a ‘rejuvenation project’ for the new villages around BU. For Kg Chempaka we upgraded the public market, the basketball court, rebuilt their public toilet and upgraded their parking areas. So, now they have 80 new parking lots near the public areas for the benefit of all.
To me, what is important for these villages is not only the upgrading of public facilities but also the preservation and enhancement of artistic facades and the creation of a nostalgic atmosphere. Having said that, we had launched the ‘New Village Beautification Project’ where the traditional wooden houses of Kampung Chempaka were painted with vibrant colours. A total of 30 houses have been given the new look so far. In addition, we want to make sure the welfare of senior citizens there are taken care of. We recently initiated the construction of a senior-citizen park that has a ‘tai chi’ exercise space, a section for chess games and a bird sanctuary for the elderly.
For the youth, we hold programmes such as parliamentvisiting sessions, dinner ceremonies with fellow activists, graphic design classes and personal finance workshops, among others. We also introduced the ‘Resume-Writing Webinar’ and ‘Level-Up with LinkedIn’ online classes even before the pandemic started.
On a personal note, growing up in a mixed-parentage family (my mother is Chinese and my father, Malay), I have faced some bitter incidents in life. These experiences inspired me to be an agent of change to eliminate racism in the country.
One of my main projects was the annual ‘Karnival Rasa Sayang’ to celebrate the diversity and uniqueness of our cultures in Malaysia. I hold the quote ‘tak kenal maka tak cinta’ dearly and I am not someone who believes in ‘tolerating’ each other in the bid to achieve racial harmony. For me, to truly achieve racial harmony, is to understand each other. We’ve managed to run the event for two consecutive years with positive feedback had it not been for the pandemic.
SJ: What are some of your problem-solving methods?
JJ: It is important for me to listen carefully to all perspectives and explanations without making hasty conclusions so that the focus can be directed towards solving problems. What is important is the ability to have an open mind and the spirit of teamwork.
This article first appeared in the Selangor Journal monthly April edition, published on March 29, 2021.