From roundabout to democracy

Those of you who stay in PJ would have at one time or another encountered the snarling jam in the now infamous Rothsman Roundabout.

This is the roundabout that links 4 busy roads: Jalan Universiti leading to sections 16 and 17, jalan Semangat leading to section 14, the road that connects to ss2/24, and jalan 19/1 leading to section 19 industrial area.

This roundabout is famed for its deadlocked jam. Whenever motorists come to this junction, all their sanity appears to have just disappeared, and what takes its place was the kiahsu mentality, with each vehicle trying to outdo another to squeeze into whatever tiny space there is, in order just to be in front of the other car.

What results is a deadlock, which sometimes takes hours to clear.

During the rush hours, even with the presence of police, the jam is as bad ( some motorists claim it is worse), and motorists just disregard every rule and courtesy there is,  right in front of the law-enforcers, just to move into the deadlock.

In the beginning of this year, an upgrading operation was commenced, to turn this roundabout into a traffic light junction. It was scheduled to be completed months ago, but the completion date has been postponed and postponed and postponed again. The latest deadline for completion is supposed to be end of September, which is tomorrow. But there is still no sign of any semblance of a traffic light junction yet, as of today (when I passed it this morning) .

(courtesy of

In the mean time, traffic jam has become worse, since the area is now so full of potholes and trenches that cars have to slow down , making the already bad situation worse.

Someone commented to me that this type of work would take only a week for a provincial town in China to complete, and it would probably take Hong Kong or Singapore one month .  But it is now 9 months, and still there is no end to it.

A lot of people thought that by voting  the opposition into State government, this type of routine work would be greatly hastened. That would only be an illusion.

 I have often told the young people that we must not expect wonders or miracles  if we vote opposition into government. This is because policy change takes years. Culture change would take even longer. In Malaysia, the tidak apa attitude and the manhole syndrome have been so ingrained into the minds of the little napoleans that it would take probably a generation to change the mindset. We must not expect drastic changes to take place, when we vote  the opposition into  government.

This also brings up a point that it is easier to be in the opposition and be critical of whatever it is; but once in government, even opposition leaders realise that it is often not as easy to push through a scheduled  work like the above example, as they must have thought. There are simply too many red tapes and man-made ‘blockage’ for any project to complete.

I quote this Rothmans Roundabout as an example as to how work is still as snail-paced as before in Selangor, even with the change of government.

Having said that, I would still want to reiterate that we need to have a 2 party system in the country first, before we can slowly do away with this “manhole” tidak apa culture. There is always   a first step when a baby learns to walk.

Just do not have too high an expectation even if the other side comes into power..

For the long term good of the country, I believe that we, despite all these inconvenience, need to put in place an mechanism for change first.  We must first put in place a check and balance system so that in the event we do not see the results from one side, after a reasonable period of time, we can kick that side out and put the other side in.

That is the spirits of democracy, and in order for us achieve this, we must be prepared, for one term at least,  to let the opposition take charge..


16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rhan
    Sep 29, 2011 @ 13:19:07

    Nice post.

    Democracy is not limited to voting and two party system, we need a constitution which enshrine our rights and freedom (speech / press / media / political expression…), rule of law, separation of power between legislative, execution, judiciary, and capable to protect the minority from tyranny of the majority, and many more to make it functional, and hopefully, this would lead us to good governance that appreciate merit base, and develop into a fair and justice type of society.

    To make it work, two party systems is a good start, however during the progress while moving forward, the people must set the right values, and speak out whatever that is incorrect, we don’t expect everyone to do as such, but at the least, some intellectual like Hsu who write well have to do it, like what demonstrate in this article.


  2. Richard Loh
    Sep 29, 2011 @ 13:27:58

    Dr. Hsu, we are on the same wave length lol…sadly many are still hot headed when things do not get the way they wanted.

    The whole mechanism of running the state is virtually under federal including civil servants. Penang is facing the same problem but at least CM Lim & team know how to get around and get things done as much as possible.

    I fully agree with you “That is the spirits of democracy, and in order for us achieve this, we must be prepared, for one term at least, to let the opposition take charge..”


  3. Dr Hsu
    Sep 29, 2011 @ 13:54:41

    Maybe this is what is called : wise men think alike.. But distractors may want to put it as “Fools seldom differ”. It actually depends on which side of the table you are sitting.


  4. Kenny
    Sep 29, 2011 @ 13:55:18

    Apparently the delay is due to the need to relocate 0.3m water pipes which were not detected by the consultants during the start of the project.

    Delay of construction projects can be due to many reasons including contractor capability, weather, labour/material shortage, payment, design change, bureaucracy from authorities, unforeseen circumstances, etc. There are many parties involved including contractor, consultants, interior designer, owner and authorities. It is better not to use a specific construction project as a yardstick for local govt efficiency.

    However the greatest determinant is the capability of the contractor. If projects are awarded on the basis of merit rather than cronyism and corruption there should be fewer delays in general.

    In Klang a flyover to connect the Federal Highway to the existing bridge was delayed 2 years causing massive traffic jams for long suffering residents. The contract was awarded before the 2008 G.E. to a Terengganu contractor with ties to the ex-MB. Despite publicity and monitoring from local govt, the contractor could not be pushed. He just took his time with limited manpower and machinery. I was one of those who had to put up with massive jams just to cross the bridge everyday.


  5. sally
    Sep 29, 2011 @ 16:42:02

    “For the long term good of the country, I believe that we, despite all these inconvenience, need to put in place a mechanism for change first. We must first put in place a check and balance system so that in the event we do not see the results from one side, after a reasonable period of time, we can kick that side out and put the other side in.”

    Dr Hsu, with due respect, please allow me to expand your above statement further…

    French political thinker Montesquieu advocated that the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the government should be assigned to different bodies, to ensure that each of them alone is not powerful enough to impose its wimps and fancies on the society. “Constant experience shows us that every man invested with power is apt to abuse it, and to carry his authority as far as it will go.” Power corrupts the few, while weaknesses corrupt the many… thus, it corrupts absolutely!

    In addition, Montesquieu warned that, “When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or in the same body of magistrates, there can be no liberty; because apprehensions may arise, lest the same monarch or senate should enact tyrannical laws, to execute them in a tyrannical manner.” He also stated that “Useless laws weaken the necessary laws.” Hence, law-abiding citizens are turned into criminals by laws regulating speech and behavior, whilst the real criminals are giving the freedom to rule the streets.

    At the very least, two conditions must be fulfilled in order to prevent the random use of power. The first one as you have mentioned is a system of strict check and balance, giving the authority to peacefully remove officials who are not doing their job. The second is system of official transparency, so that the rakyats know what their political representatives are doing.


  6. streetfighter
    Sep 29, 2011 @ 17:35:43

    Vote of change first. No need wisdom or it is foolish to do that.
    All delays and long time to complete a project are due to corruptions.


  7. Jong
    Sep 29, 2011 @ 18:51:20

    The “thieves” need to learn to be better thieves! Didn’t that warning comes from that elder statesman?

    Hastening the project will not only reveal how easy money is obtained from state projects, but would expose the cronyism and corruption involved obtaining such contract works.


  8. viv
    Sep 29, 2011 @ 20:02:34

    agree with u that change will take some time. give u an example. the selangor govt rm100 aid n death benefit for senior citizens. those born outside of selangor will need documents such as utlility bills, S&P agreement, to prove they have been resident for 15 years. their mykad may show selangor address but it’s not good enough. hypothetically, what if the senior citizen doesn’t own a property? what if the property were in the children’s names? what if they had been renting all along? so they may have been living for 15 years in selangor, n hv voted in pakatan, n yet they still can’t enjoy this little perk due them. when i raised this with our dap assemblywoman’s aide, he did not answer the above pertinent points. all he did was to point me to the official website for the ‘complete info’. change? the bureaucracy still remains.


  9. Dr Hsu
    Sep 30, 2011 @ 10:02:37

    You have brought up a very good point.
    Most old people who passed away would have transfer their property to someone else, and even since most of them are no more working, its is likely that all the utitlity bills will be in their children’s name. I see the announcement more for publicity and political ploy, since very few people will have the time to go through the hassle of collecting the 100 bereavement benefit.

    The bereaucracy is still there, and it is no secret that many of them are still BN supporters. They are BN supporters because they do not like drastic change which can affect their way of life and their way of sustaining their living.

    Looking at the example of Taiwan, when the DPP won the presidency in Taiwan in year 2000, there were high expectations. But under them, nothing changed, and in fact corruption got worse, from the president and family to the lower level of party cadres.

    That is why I do not expect much changes even if PR takes over, at least for the first couple of years.

    But to effect change, we need to have the say to determine which party should govern, and to effect that, we need to set a precedence first by voting out the present one. If the next one is no good, like Chen Sui Bian in taiwan, then by all means boot them out after giving them sufficient time. Taiwan people endure 8 years of Ah Bian, but eventually they voted in Ma Yin Jiu, but now, quite a number of those who voted Ma is also feeling disappointed.. Just like Obama in the States, many people who voted for him are now disillusioned with him.

    When people vote for change, they vote because of “hope”. And Obama was clever to give “hope’ for change and he got elected because of that.

    But when you have too high ‘hope’, you will get disappointed very soon.. Changes take time, especially when changing a work culture..It is easier to change a mountain by landscaping than it sis to change a person’s attitude, and this is generally very true.


  10. Li Li Fa
    Sep 30, 2011 @ 10:42:28

    After the 2008 GE, there was a change in government in the State of Selangor.

    The so called new-Boys-in-the-block tried their best to carry out their task at hand, plan ahead and also to undo the so-called ‘bad-practices’ of the previous government. They even adopted methods similar to the Penang’s C.A.T. and managed to save a lot for the State’s coffers through careful utilisation of the State’s funds.

    However, not all the state government’s machinery suddenly jumps into perfect running order and speed immediately after the 2008GE. Like what Dr. Hsu mentioned, many suffered from the Manhole syndrome and are still in this quamire. It will take years and generations for attitudes to change for the better.

    For example, at the Rothman’s Roundabout, after all the approvals obtained from the authorities, and project farmed out to the respective people, yet we find that there is undue delays, resulting in frustration, wastage of time and resources.

    Attitudes must change but they take a long time to change.

    One term at the helm is insufficent for the current government perform their task well. But that must not be the excuse. In any case, the current government of Selangor must look into the delays and further tighten the nuts as it were to prove to the people and voters that they deserve to be at their seat in the coming general election and beyond. Change, transfer, relocate, terminate, demote, and even promote government servants, if need be. Otherwise, the Manhole syndrome will continue to be perpetuated and all will be going around in circles.

    Then perhaps the people will decide whether it will be time to change the incumbents.


  11. Rhan
    Sep 30, 2011 @ 11:33:14

    I submitted the senior citizen form application to a DAP services centre near my home, it is not under the same parliamentary seat from where I live but our activities all the years is been carry out from the same town, but the ‘gerrymandering’ move us to another one that is not only far, and alien to us as well. The ‘party worker’ refuses to accept my form stating the reason that we are not from that area. I think to myself why can’t they just accept on behalf and pass over since both area is under DAP. I agree this is trivial matter but my mum utter “一朝天子一朝臣, 人换了,嘴脸依然。” 我笑笑,苦笑。


  12. monsterball
    Sep 30, 2011 @ 11:40:15

    Attitudes of wealthy Malaysian minorities votes maybe unreliable….to vote for change….for most read newspapers…think of their personal benefits and losses…and only know how to take a holiday with their family…..when they smell trouble brewing.
    Yes one term is not enough for Selangor…and rich buggers are talking how useless Khalid is…keeping quiet….this and that….and an ex Guthrie CEO good…as if the UMNO b dentist is better.
    Do more ….talk less is what PR is daily doing…no time to talk nonsense.
    Perfect PR government is impossible.
    I recalled Obama asked Americans “Vote for CHANGE”…asking Americans to unite and CHANGE attitudes…and ignore race sediments…give him a Negro a chance to be President,,,and he did it!!
    Of course.he must be a fantastic intelligent speaker and so he is..far far more superior that his opposition.
    And in Malaysia…no matter how much UMNO b .MCA talk…..PR politicians are far far more sincere and intelligent that Najib…and Chua Soi Lek….PLUS….all are clean… corruptions.
    Vote for change first and get rid of corruptions..unite the people… and treat all pots and longkang problems…secondary matters.
    FOCUS on bigger issues….like is Lim Guan Eng a communist ….being labelled by some.
    One man’s meat is another man’s poison.
    Why search for reasons for freedom….when freedom not achieved yet.?
    Yes Li Li Fa…2008 GE was the start.
    Lets complete it …next GE and give PR a strong mandate to prove themselves.
    They deserve it…and it is long overdue to change for the better.


  13. monsterball
    Sep 30, 2011 @ 11:58:08

    But sometimes …one look at a man….you can see he is useless and not worth accepting what application form he submits and tell him to get lost.
    Here we judge from the comments…by writing from nameless .faceless.. and visualize the characters.
    So learn to judge well and not sit on the fence be a good guy…which again can be confusing….that sometimes the good is actually bad and the bad is actually good like Doc said…depending which side you are standing.
    But if you stand FOR CHANGE…who cares you are good ..bad or ugly..or what kind of attitudes?
    People Power and Freedom Fighters are not so smart to analyse this or that.
    UMNO b want to cheat with phantom votes and win again?….be prepared for a blood bath all over the country…..and Najib has to take that as his decision and of course all smart wealthy votes swingers can take longer holidays.


  14. yoongsin2
    Oct 01, 2011 @ 12:07:29

    in china within a week this is done each time we come back to malaysia we stay in ss2…this rothman is one nightmares. it just sickening.interesting the peopl e around there are a very patient lot. everybody seemed to accept reality. ss2 is middle class and upper , maybe they are timid..too busy making money..


  15. Dr Hsu
    Oct 01, 2011 @ 13:24:38

    I stay in ss2 too. and as you have mentioned, I have to endure this everyday. Yes, the people actually do not compliant much , even after being stuck in traffic for a hour or 2.. That is very typical of Malaysians, as long as they can make money, never mind the delay ..

    Also, as I have mentioned, people change their behaviour when coming to this roundabout; the ‘right-side-has-right-of-way’ rule in British traffic system is conveniently forgotten, and everyone just pushes their vehicle forward to block one another, resulting in deadlock, and no one side can move.. If everyone just gives way , it may be even faster– but this is just my opinion.. I doubt traffic light system can alleviate the problem.. The best solution is a flyover connecting ss2/24 to Jalan Semangat. or Jalan Universiti.

    Luckily for those of us in SS2, there are many alternatives to get onto the Federal Highway or the LDP… Even if those exits are frequently jammed up too..


  16. petestop
    Oct 04, 2011 @ 19:52:47

    Roundabouts is quite an efficient and cost efficient creation if the traffic is not too heavy.

    But once traffic becomes too heavy, and coupled with kiasu mentality of not
    giving way, then it becomes a severe jam, totally gridlocked.

    Penang use to have one such roundabout at Gurney Drive, at junction of Kelawei Road and Bagan Jermal.

    Luckily, rational thinking taken over, and that roundabout was bulldozed and changed to a junction with traffic lights.

    Incidentally there is minimal or no roundabouts in the U.S., but you get heck of
    a many of them in Ye Olde Britain.


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