Parking fees in Kota Kinabalu are some of the lowest in the world. Motorists pay between 20 and 50 sen (6 and 14 cents) to park for 30 minutes or an hour in the city. Of course, depending on how busy the area is, the rate doubles or triples the longer they park. But parking here is still very cheap. Yet Kota Kinabalu City Hall has been unable to collect most of the money. It is saddled with outstanding parking fees and fines to a staggering RM58 million over the last 10 years, according to mayor Abidin Madingkir. An “amnesty” to allow defaulters to pay a fraction of what they owe has failed. And another attempt to make motorists pay upfront in a coupon system has irked them.
His resignation as an opposition Sabah lawmaker wasn’t just abrupt. It was unusual. But Roland Chia Ming Shen, a 44-year-old dentist, got the attention he wanted through a tweet yesterday. He said he was giving up his Inanam seat because of “health reasons”.
Officials of his Parti Keadilan Rakyat (People’s Justice Party) quickly dismiss his resignation. Many suspect that it might be sinister at a time when his party de facto president Anwar Ibrahim is trying to stay out of prison on a second sodomy charge. Mr Anwar was freed by an appeals court of a five-year jail term handed to him by a high court. But prosecutors are asking Malaysia’s highest federal court to decide if Anwar should be rightly found guilty and jailed for sodomising his helper.
Until yesterday, Mr Chia had not given any hint that he was sick. Neither was he unhappy with his party, according to his comrades. But Darren Tong, his political secretary, says his boss is overseas seeking medical treatment. He doesn’t say where or what he is suffering from. A few of Mr Chia’s friends say that it could be something insidious, perhaps cancer. An unnamed friend of Mr Chia says he has been “noticeably” losing weight since he won his maiden election about one and a half years ago in a three-corner fight.
Mr Chia is expected to return to Kota Kinabalu by 8 January. He will then make his wish known: officially, according to his colleagues.