Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Ta-Pau & delivered by chopper?

Spicy smell emanates from the 'nasi ganja' saga

by R Nadeswaran

COMMENT | Supposing you stay in Petaling Jaya, Selangor and want to ride your kap chai to Kuala Lumpur to tah pau (pack) your favourite mee goreng in Bangsar or siew yuk in Taman Kok Doh or Tiger Jeet’s chappati along Jalan San Peng. What would you have to do?

You would have to fill up a form in duplicate (complete personal particulars with vehicle registration number) and submit it for the consideration of the police officer at the nearest police station. Your application to cross districts to buy food will be rejected and if you are lucky, you may escape suffering the ignominy of being chided and chastised by the mata mata at the balai (police station).

Judging from news reports, things may be different if you have a prefix to your name or had given the tail number of your private helicopter instead. No, don’t get me wrong and I am not complimenting the police for their competence. Neither am I pre-judging the police.

I am merely putting the facts on the table as I do not want to be accused of “improper use of network facilities” – the “cover all” clause in the Communications and Multimedia Act to prosecute anything and everything said or written on cyberspace.

This saga started last Friday when a helicopter landed at Padang Ipoh in Perak to pick up 36 packets of the famous “nasi ganja” for a customer in Kuala Lumpur.

I am merely quoting the owner of the helicopter that landed on the Padang Ipoh.

“All papers were in order”, was the initial riposte from Mohamed Raffe Chekku, the managing director of the KL-Kuala Selangor Expressway (Latar) who owns the helicopter. For a good measure, he added: “I have nothing much to say except that it was a quick pick-up. I have appointed my lawyers to handle the matter and we will give our full cooperation.”

End of the matter? No. The intrigue gets more confusing and the procedures for boundaries is not intricate or crouched in legalese. It is as simple as it gets – travelling under the movement control order is only allowed for work or important issues like medical appointments. Otherwise, you stay put and make do with what you are allowed.

And the Perak police chief Mior Faridalathrash Wahid was explicit. In a statement yesterday, he said: “The helicopter had permission to cross state borders for maintenance and said that this permission did not extend to picking up food.”

It is a contradiction of sorts. If all papers are in order as claimed, is there then an assumption that the police chief’s statement is incorrect? It was the same officer who on last Friday was quoted by Utusan Malaysia as saying that the helicopter was only cleared for landing at the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport and not the Padang Ipoh.

But Mohamed Raffe’s lawyer added another twist to the ongoing saga by suggesting that permission was given for the helicopter to land on the field and reasoned that the Perak police chief may have been misinformed.

In a telephone interview, Wan Annuar Wan Mohd Nor maintained that Padang Ipoh is a public place. “We see motorcycles, bicycles and people walking on the padang.”

Would that mean that anyone can do anything on Padang Ipoh without getting permission from the Ipoh City Hall which owns and maintains the field? The local authority has in the recent past rejected applications from offices in the vicinity to allow their staff to park on the peripherals of the field.

Apologists and protagonists

Many of those who responded to my commentary on Saturday were of the view that the whole issue would be covered up and nothing would come out of police investigations. They came to such conclusions judging from past incidents and escapades where purported offenders got away and their case files closed.

But with the information that has so far been made public, the (misinformation) it has generated; and the issue being debated on social media, it is difficult to agree with such assertions and any so-called cover-up is not likely to happen.

Besides the public outcry leaves no room for any manipulation because there will be a compulsion that any decision made or taken had been consistent with the law, rules and regulations.

Meanwhile, apologists and protagonists have emerged and asserted that we are making a mountain out of a molehill. An unnamed pilot was quoted as saying that “he himself had landed at the Padang ‘dozens of times’ to load or offload equipment or passengers in the course of his other assignments”.

He went on to say: “I am not sure what all the excitement is all about as what they did was perfectly legal provided the Air Traffic Control had given them the clearance. The company obviously must have had inter-state travel permission as the government contracted them for the vaccination drive.”

Thanks for the national service, but compensation for the vaccination drive comes from the government and is certainly not paid in kind – least likely in nasi ganja packets.

And for the second time in a week, the public focus will be on how the authorities handle this issue. If it is yet another slap on the wrist, it gives credence to the claims of the widely-held view that there are different strokes for different folks.

R NADESWARAN has played both cricket and hockey on the Padang Ipoh and hence his special interest in this saga. Comments: