Saturday, June 11, 2011

    I am a member of my condominium management committee and have been for a couple of years now. I have never lived in a condo before and needless to say I have never served on a management committee. I have friends who serve on condo committees back in the US and only have their experiences to relate to here in Malaysia. I am learning a lot about the local culture and how different it can be. As every condo does, here and in the US we have our own House Rules, by which all residents are supposed to abide. We have had few problems with people not living up to their responsibilities. Recently this changed dramatically. We have a resident who submitted plans to renovate his unit. According to his plan he was only going to change the location of toilets in the bathrooms and replace the bathroom tiles. His plans were approved and he was given permission to begin renovation. As the renovation started he moved a rather expensive massage chair to the nearby elevator lobby on his floor. This was so that it was in plain sight of the CCTV and would not be stolen. He then put all of his belongings in an air well next to his unit and padlocked it. This air well is used by the fire department in case of fire and cannot be locked. These two facts were bad enough, but what was really surprising is that he had the entire unit gutted, including load bearing walls. The fire department came and insisted that the air well be unlocked and the chair be removed as it a safety hazard.

    The management sent the owner of the unit a letter citing the safety violations and calling attention to the non adherence to the renovation plans. The letter called for him to remove the chair, to unlock the air well and remove his personal property from this common area and to cease renovation until new and actual renovation plans were submitted. To me this was the natural course to take and I expected the owner to responsibly comply with the terms of the letter. Well that didn't happen. The day he got the letter he stormed into the management office, tore the letter to shreds and threw it at the building manager. He then demanded to see the chairperson of the management committee. She just happened to be in the office at this time and came to meet the man. As she appeared he assaulted her and threw a desk fan at one of the office employees. He explained that he owned his unit and he did not have to follow any body's rules but his.

    The police were called, but as it happens here, they would not come. The chairperson had to go to the police station to file a report. The police still did nothing, as usual. The owner, later that day threatened the woman and her young children. He made over 30 harassing phone calls to the woman that evening. The police advised the woman to go to the doctor and then contact her lawyer, as they thought this was a personal matter. In other words they didn't want to do anything. The situation is still not resolved and I am anxious and concerned to see what the outcome is.

    I know that this is an isolated incident, but it does show how arrogant and ignorant some people can be. I am sure that things like this happen in condos and apartment building all over the world. There are just too many people who think the rules apply to everyone, but themselves.

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