DAP Johor – Office in a Park
It is indeed a great pleasure to see a project close to my heart coming to fruition.
Due to financial constraints, most DAP offices are housed in shoplots. In fact, most political parties use generic shoplots as their local and state offices.
But I have always hoped for something a bit different. It is my wish to see political parties taking part in restoring heritage buildings or rehabilitating unused buildings. To a certain extent, we as leaders have the duty of preserving the story and history of our communities.
Winston Churchill once said that “we shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.”
During my first election campaign in 2008, fortuitously I was given the opportunity to set up my campaign centre on the beautiful heritage row of Bangkok Lane at Pulau Tikus. Uncle Johnny Cheah Wee Chye, the kind owner of No. 30 Bangkok Lane had just passed away earlier this month. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to him and thank him for his kindness and generosity for allowing me to use his home, which was akin to a launching pad for my political career.
When I was the MP for Kluang, my team and I sort of “rediscovered” Jalan Ismail for the people of Kluang by highlighting the charms of these long-forgotten heritage buildings though a festival Sdr Low Tuck Chuan organised in September 2013. Today, Sdr Chew Chong Sin, the state assemblyman for Mengkibol, set up his constituency office at what used to be the clinic of Labour Party leader Dr Wee Lee Fong on Jalan Ismail. Nowadays, Jalan Ismail and its surrounding are the de facto arts district for Kluang.
During Pakatan Harapan’s short stint in power, we were working with Persatuan Arkitek Malaysia to organise architectural competitions to revamp Yong Peng riverside, Kluang public market (in collaboration with MP for Kluang Sdri Wong Shu Qi), and Johor Jaya wet market area (in collaboration with State Assemblywoman for Johor Jaya Sdri Liow Cai Tung). Malaysian governments at all levels are usually not keen on using design competitions as a way to get the best ideas from architects and urban planners. But these design competitions allow us to gather new representations and designs for our public spaces with more participation from the community. Sadly, our plans did not materialise after the fall of the PH government.
As I was planning to conduct these competitions, architect Dr Tan Loke Mun, whom I first came to know during my days in Penang, came to my mind. As a senior architect and former President of PAM, he helped the Penang Island City Council to handle several high profile architecture competitions. Through Dr Tan, I also reconnected with Malaysia’s foremost landscape architect Ng Sek San, whom I first met in 2008.
I admire their often very bold and transformative ideas for our cities. I wish more political leaders and public servants involved in the planning of architectural projects and public buildings/spaces consult these professionals with so many great ideas to inject character and soul into what we are building.
Johor is geographically vast. Hence, it has always been on my mind to set up the DAP state headquarters in either Yong Peng or Kulai which are both easily accessible from the highway for the convenience of DAP leaders and members across the state.
When the opportunity presented itself, Sdr Alan Tee Boon Tsong and myself persuaded DAP Johor state leaders to create an unconventional headquarters at a former developer’s showroom in Kulai that comes with a sizable car park. The idea is to build a different kind of political party office with a small public park accessible to all, which also serves as a reminder for us that DAP is a party for all and a party close to the people.
It is an “office in a park” and a “campus” for DAP leaders, members and party workers where we learn together. It is also about imagining and creating a future together. One day, when the trees are fully grown, enough to shield us from the heat of the sun, perhaps we will be brainstorming about how to make Johor and Malaysia a better place for everyone, while sitting on the benches under the trees.
For this, I would like to thank Dr Tan Loke Mun and Ng Sek San for their pro bono design work, Sdr Alan Tee for putting effort to see the project through, DAP National Chairman Sdr Lim Guan Eng and others who donated generously (a final list of contributors will be compiled in the not-too-distant future), and to DAP Secretary-General Sdr Anthony Loke and DAP Advisor Sdr Tan Kok Wai for gracing and officiating the new state headquarters on 9 September 2022.
The headquarters is located at No.58-4, Jalan Tropika 1, Taman Tropika, 81000 Kulai, Johor.
DAP Johor appreciates your support for the upcoming general election as well as the upkeep of this premises. Support our work by donating to:
DAP JOHORE STATE COMMITTEE
Public Bank – 3101109707