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Love's Labour Lost

4 Oct 2013

The Star - Opinion

By Dorairaj Nadason

Ulu Klang Recreation Club started off with a group of residents managing a piece of land and a mining pool. Over time, they turned it into a leafy retreat for families. Now, their field of dreams has been snatched away.

THIS week started with a story about the Youth and Sports Ministry planning to convert school fields into artificial pitches and opening them up to the public. The public, it seems, are not too keen on open public fields – not that there are too many of these around.

Those which are still around are usually in a bad shape.

The Selangor CRC field, once the playground of top Malaysian players, is now the scene of the abandoned Plaza Rakyat project. The Sentul railway field is long gone. Fields in Segambut, Kepong and many other places in the country are in a terrible state.

Many fields serve as car parks during the week – with tyres tearing up the turf – and are taken over by foreigners during the weekends.

It is really a rare sight to see a well-manicured and a well-maintained field these days, which is why the Ulu Klang Recreation Club (UKRC) field in Ampang has always been one of my favourites.

Remember when Barcelona FC came visiting and decided they would not play at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil? Well, someone should have offered them the UKRC field instead. They may have agreed to play there. It is very well-kept.

For the club, the field has been a half-century-long labour of love. It was a mining pool when the club first started. For generations, the members painstakingly filled up the pond, planted the grass, levelled the gound and lovingly tended the area bringing it to the pristine condition it is now in.

I have played practice matches at the field and once took part in the Annual International Veteran’s tournament, which the club has successfully hosted over the years. Of course, we were soundly trashed by the ex-internationals from Singapore and other states but it was an honour just to play alongside them.

Many others have played on that field – the great Mokhtar Dahari, Santokh Singh, Soh Chin Aun ... I could just go on. There were many memorable occasions, too. The club raised RM120,000 with a charity match for an ex-international goalkeeper Ong Yu Tiang when he was diagnosed with leukaemia. It also raised money for the former Olympian footballer Syed Ahmad who underwent a heart surgery.

They have a great junior training programme running too.

So, it was quite a shock to learn that the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) had decided to take over the field. I’ll tell you the truth – I have little faith in local councils. None inspires confidence in me about the maintenance of a field. All around the country, public fields are in deplorable conditions.

MPAJ itself is no different. Just about 100m or so down the road from UKRC, there is another public field.

There is a football ground and a basketball court there as well. The place is in a mess. When it rains, the field is all soggy. There are blue buildings made of corrugated iron where an association has been allowed to set up its headquarters before.

Hardly anyone actually uses the football field but a nearby school uses part of it for its daily activities. On weekends, a large group of Indonesian workers descend upon the field to play football, no matter how bad the condition of the pitch is.

Closer to its own home, the MPAJ has its own field near its headquarters. That field is filled with love grass and mimosa, a sore sight for many.

With that in mind, the council now wants to run the UKRC field successfully? I seriously have my doubts.

The MPAJ has made moves in a big hurry. It has set up a canopy with round-the-clock guards preventing anyone from using the UKRC field and I am told that it is charging the public RM200 for a match there. Does this make it a public field?

What is worse is that the MPAJ says that the takeover has been done on the orders of the state government.

Strangely enough, the Mentri Besar announced in 2009 that the field had been gazetted as an open space with UKRC having the right to manage the field. Only he knows what made him change his stand with his “let’s take the field back” attitude.

In fact, prior to the 2008 elections, many Opposition politicians had pledged to ensure that the field would stay in the hands of the club as it was doing a good job of maintaining it. There had been plans before to build condominiums or bungalows on that spot but the Opposition politicians fought hard to prevent that from happening.

Those opposition politicians are now the ones in power. For the club though, little has changed and where the former state government dithered, the new one has moved in with a vengeance. I guess politicians will always be politicians.

There could have been a different approach. The government could have worked with the club instead.

“They should have funded the club first before asking the club leaders to be more inclusive,” says Muzaza Musangu, an expatriate who with his team, was playing at the field last Sunday. Musangu is the First Secretary of Education at the Zambian High Commission and to him and his family, the club is their regular weekend retreat.

“It will be a great pity if the state takes this away,” he said. A great pity indeed.

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Padang UKRC kini diurus MPAJ

2 Oct 2013

Utusan

Oleh Normairah Jamaluddin

KUALA LUMPUR 1 Okt. - Majlis Perbandaran Ampang Jaya (MPAJ) telah menggantikan nama padang Kelab Rekreasi Ulu Klang (UKRC) kepada Padang MPAJ Kuala Ampang berkuat kuasa hari ini.

ANGGOTA Penguat Kuasa MPAJ memotong kunci pintu untuk membolehkan mereka memasuki kawasan padang UKRC, semalam.

Timbalan Yang Dipertua MPAJ, Abdul Hamid Hussain berkata, nama baharu itu diberikan seiring dengan pengambilalihan pengurusan padang itu oleh MPAJ bermula hari ini.

"Kami harap selepas ini sesiapa yang ingin membuat tempahan Padang MPAJ Kuala Ampang berurusan terus dengan kami tanpa melalui UKRC.

"Namun, tempahan dibuat orang ramai sebelum ini menerusi UKRC masih boleh diteruskan. Kami tidak akan batalkan, cuma UKRC perlu beri balik yuran sewa yang telah dibayar," katanya di Ampang, dekat sini.

Beliau berkata demikian dalam sidang akhbar selepas mengadakan pertemuan dengan pihak UKRC di padang itu.

Tambah beliau, orang ramai dibenarkan menggunakan gelanggang bola keranjang dan tempat letak kenderaan di padang tersebut secara percuma dan bayaran hanya dikenakan untuk menyewa padang bola sepak dengan kadar RM200 sejam.

Abdul Hamid turut mengesahkan bahawa dalam pertemuan hari ini, pihak UKRC tidak bersetuju dengan keputusan yang dibuat oleh MPAJ.

"Mereka sama sekali tidak bersetuju dengan pengambilalihan ini dan akan membawa perkara ini ke mahkamah.

"MPAJ tidak menghalang tindakan tersebut kerana padang ini kepunyaan kerajaan negeri Selangor. Kita tunggu keputusan mahkamah," ujarnya.

Sebelum itu, pihak UKRC menghalang MPAJ daripada memasuki kawasan padang tersebut. Tindakan mereka telah menyebabkan MPAJ terpaksa memotong kunci pagar padang berkenaan.

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Tindakan MPAJ tidak profesional - UKRC

2 Oct 2013

Utusan

KUALA LUMPUR 1 Okt. - Pihak pengurusan Kelab Rekreasi Ulu Klang (UKRC) mendakwa tindakan Majlis Perbandaran Ampang Jaya (MPAJ) mengambil alih padang UKRC secara tiba-tiba adalah tidak profesional.

Presiden kelab itu, Andrew Gopal berkata, MPAJ hanya memberi mereka Notis Pemakluman Pengambilalihan padang tetapi tidak menunjukkan surat perintah mahkamah.

"Kami juga diberi tempoh hanya empat hari untuk memberi senarai tempahan yang dibuat orang ramai kepada UKRC," katanya kepada pemberita selepas pertemuan dengan MPAJ di padang itu yang kini diberi nama Padang MPAJ Kuala Ampang.

Mengulas lanjut, Andrew berkata, UKRC telah membelanjakan lebih RM30 juta untuk kos mengendalikan padang tersebut sejak 1958.

"Dulu kerajaan negeri Selangor yang benarkan kami mengendalikan padang ini, dan setelah kami berjaya melahirkan bintang-bintang bola sepak dan padang ini cantik, tiba-tiba MPAJ datang dan kata nak ambil alih.

"Kami sangat terkejut apabila mendapat tahu MPAJ mahu ambil alih padang ini. Sehubungan itu hari ini UKRC akan memfailkan perkara ini ke mahkamah," katanya.

Menurutnya, pihaknya juga telah membuat laporan polis atas 'pencerobohan' yang telah dibuat oleh MPAJ.

Tambahnya, sementara menunggu keputusan mahkamah, aktiviti di padang tersebut akan berjalan seperti biasa.

Sementara itu, pada sebelah petang, ahli-ahli Kelab UKRC disertai penduduk berdekatan membuat demonstrasi sebagai membantah tindakan MPAJ itu.

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Council takes over UKRC field

2 Oct 2013

The Malay Mail

By Hamzah Nazari

THE Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) took over management of the Ulu Klang Recreation Club (UKRC) field yesterday, bringing down the UKRC sign, cutting locks on the gates and opening some of the facilities to the public.

ILLEGAL ENTRY: Gopal (second from right) protests the forced entrance of the council officers into the UKRC premises

"We are taking over administration and management of the field," said council deputy president Abdul Hamid Hussein.

The field, which had been known as Padang UKRC, will be renamed Padang MPAJ Kuala Ampang.

Abdul Hamid said 30 council officers and 10 policemen were initially forced to cut two padlocks to enter the premises at 9am after they were stopped by a guard who said the club would file a police report.

"We will station enforcement officers here 24 hours a day for the time being to avoid any unwanted incidences," he said.

He said the smaller field, basketball court and parking spaces would be open to the public but club members would continue to occupy the clubhouse.

Abdul Hamid said the council would honour previous bookings for the field made through the club before opening it to the public, based on availability, at a rate of RM200 for two hours.

Those who wished to use the facilities would have to make their bookings through the council's youth and sports department.

Abdul Hamid said UKRC would also be required to hand over any booking fees already collected for events held after yesterday but would wait for the results of a court case which he was told UKRC will be filing on the matter.

UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT: MPAJ personnel putting up a new banner near the field — Pix: FIRDAUS LATIF

UKRC president Andrew Gopal confirmed a police report had been filed and a suit would be filed by the club later.

He expressed the club's disappointment with the authorities, including the state government, for allowing the area to be gazetted as a public area and a green lung.

Gopal said the move was done in bad faith as the club had spent over RM30 million over the past 58 years in developing the former mining pond.

"It is unprofessional of the local council for not obtaining a court order to repossess the land which has been managed by UKRC."

Gopal said the club's lawyers had replied to the council, quoting the "Plaza Rakyat versus City Hall" case, that a court order was needed to repossess the land.

"UKRC is going to file a case against the local council to quash the notice that was given to UKRC, giving them four days to surrender the field to MPAJ," Gopal said.

He was confident the club would win in court.

Supporters gather in protest

LATER in the afternoon, UKRC supporters held a gathering to protest the take-over.

Among roughly 40 people present was Selangor and FT Vendors Association president Datuk N. Muneandy who said it was unfair for MPAJ to take such sudden action.

"UKRC was providing good service to the public in taking care of the field."

MIC Ampang division chairman P. Wilson said those who wanted to use the facilities would now find it harder to do so as they would have to apply to both MPAJ and UKRC.

Ex-club members welcome move

SOME former club members said they were pleased with what transpired yesterday.

"It is a good move to open up the place and pass it to the local authorities to manage," said Kuala Ampang Residents Association secretary and former UKRC member Kevin Ho, 48, who is a business executive.

A former club committee member Ng Weng Soon, 51, said justice had been served as residents had waited a long time and could finally look forward to using the field.

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Club to challenge takeover of field

2 Oct 2013

The Star

By Choo Woo Lim

KUALA LUMPUR: About 100 people turned up at the Ulu Kelang Recreation Club (UKRC) in Kuala Ampang near here to protest against the takeover of their field by the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ).

No entry: A security guard barring MPAJ officers from entering the field as Gopal (right) looks on.

Council officers cordoned off the field in the morning, ahead of the evening protest yesterday.

Club chairman Andrew Gopal said they would take legal action against the council on the takeover.

“We were issued a notice last Friday. They did not produce a court order when they came to cordon off the field,” he told reporters.

“We have been managing the land since the club started in 1958.

“It is unfair for MPAJ to seize the management of the field without proper notice or discussion.”

The council took over the field on Monday and, except for the clubhouse, will take charge of all facilities there.

These include the football field, basketball court and the empty spaces around the field.

With the takeover, the field has been renamed as Kuala Ampang MPAJ field.

Council deputy president and secretary Abdul Hamid Hussain had said that while the entire land was public land, the Selangor Government was allowing UKRC to buy the portion where the clubhouse is sited.

On this matter, Gopal said: “If the state government is willing to let us pay a premium for the field and the surrounding land, we are willing to do so.”

A resident, who wished to be known only as Lam, said the council had disregarded the efforts of the club committee which has been maintaining the field all these years.

“I have stayed in the area for over 50 years. The club used to be rundown and unkempt. Now it is well-tended and the residents and the public can enjoy the facilities,” said the 67-year-old.

Janice Loke, 48, said the field was regularly used for sporting activities.

“Many have said it is the best field around,” she said, and that now she is worried about how it would be maintained under the council.

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MPAJ officers face resistance to gain access to UKRC field

2 Oct 2013

The Star

By Low Boon Tat

THERE was a minor scuffle at the Ulu Klang Recreation Club (UKRC) field in Kuala Ampang as officers from the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) attempted to gain access to the field.

Last resort : MPAJ officers had to resort to cutting the padlock after being denied entry into the field.

Some 40 officers from MPAJ and 10 policemen were present. Council officers had to cut a padlock at the main entrance gate to gain entry.

At its fullboard meeting on Monday, MPAJ had announced that the council would be taking over the management of all facilities, except the clubhouse.

This includes the football field, renamed the Kuala Ampang MPAJ field, the basketball court, parking lot and the empty space surrounding the field.

According to MPAJ deputy president and secretary Abd Hamid Hussain, the council had the right to take over the field because it was located on public land.

“We sent UKRC a notice on Sept 27 to inform them of the decision,” he said during a visit to the field yesterday.

Hamid said the council would oversee the management and maintenance of the field.

Advanced bookings are required to use the football field and a fee will be charged. However, the smaller field and basketball court can be used for free.

A team of MPAJ officers will be stationed at the site round-the-clock.

Kuala Ampang resident Lily Lim, 50, who uses the field for qigong, supported the move.

“How can UKRC control who has access to the field? It is public land,” she said.

Kuala Ampang Residents’ Association (Rakan) secretary Kevin Ho said: “Although most of us are glad that this will once again be an open space, we are sad it had to end this way.

“All we wanted was a place to play football.”

Meanwhile, UKRC president Andrew Gopal questioned the legality of the move.

“Where is MPAJ’s court order to seize the land? Our lawyers sent them a letter on Monday but there has been no response,” he said, adding that a four-day notice was insufficient.

Those who wish to use the field can contact MPAJ’s Community and Youth Department.

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End of tussle as MPAJ takes over UKRC field

2 Oct 2013

New Straits Times

By Nuradzimmah Daim

NEW RULE: Booking of field must be made through the MPAJ’s youth and community department

AMPANG JAYA: SPARKS literally flew yesterday when Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) enforcement officers, armed with an industrial-strength handheld saw, cut open the gate to the Ulu Klang Recreation Club's (UKRC) football field.

A UKRC security guard trying to stop MPAJ officers from entering the football field. Pic by Mim Fadlizal Rozaiman

The officers were there to enforce last Friday's notice issued by MPAJ to the club's management to surrender the football field to the council.

When council secretary Abdul Hamid Hussain and his officers arrived in the morning, the main gate was locked and had to be forced open.

Enforcement officers spent a few minutes sawing through the gate's metal bars. Once the gate was opened, a member of the club's security, with several club members behind him, tried to prevent the officers from coming in and had to be restrained.

For almost two decades, the club and MPAJ have been in a tussle as to who had the right to manage the field.

"From here on, we will manage the football field including the maintenance and bookings. Any arrangement to use the field must be made through the council's youth and community department.

"This is a decision made by the state government and which we have exercised by taking over the field.

"It is hoped that all parties including the club will accept this (decision). Meanwhile, the clubhouse is still under the management of the club," he said, adding that council staff would be stationed at the premises to monitor the field.

Hamid said there was no issue of the council coming in without a court order as the land was already gazetted as an open space and owned by the state.

"Having said that, we will adhere to the court's decision should the club decide to file an injunction against this move," he said.

The public can call the council's youth and community department at 03-4296 8012 for bookings.

The exercise, he said, includes the handover of all the prior booking payments made on the football field to the club.

However, UKRC president Andrew Gopal questioned the move, saying that it was done without a court order.

"We have all the legal documents for the padang (field). We were given a notice only last week by MPAJ to surrender the field."

At press time, UKRC members were gathering for a planned protest against the state government and MPAJ's decision and move to take over the football field.

Meanwhile, former club members described the move as a victory to the residents who yearned to use the field.

Ng Weng Soon, 50, expressed his relief over the decision made by the authorities.

"All this while, we were barred from using the football field and not even allowed to enter the open space. We look forward to playing football here again.

"Some of us were even expelled from the club as we were accused of contravening the club's constitution by talking to the press and lodging complaints with the Registrar of Societies," said the former UKRC committee member.

 

 

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