A TUSSLE for parking space causes a simmering feud between two neighbours. The animosity between the two became so toxic that other residents felt uncomfortable.
“It came to a point that the two were using the residents association’s weekly meetings to fire insults at each other. It made it hard for us to discuss things,” said Phase 11, Precinct 9 Residents Association (RA) and Rukun Tetangga (RT) chairman Mohd Tahir Mohamad, 53.
Luckily for the warring parties, there was a happy ending, thanks to the Putrajaya Community Mediation Centre.
“We got the parties to sit down and talk about it.
“We left it to the Putrajaya Property Management Division to decide which neighbour was in the right,” said Mohd Tahir, a trained mediator who volunteers at the centre.
In another case, he said a quarrel erupted between a committee member of a religious institution and the parents of a child who was hit by that committee member for playing football near a place of worship.
He said they came to a compromise and both agreed to forgive and forget.
Mohd Tahir has attended courses by the National Unity and Integration Department (JPNIN) on how to handle disputes at the community level.
The training modules comprise problems associated with strata living, such as indiscriminate rubbish disposal and noisy neighbours.
As the Parent-Teacher Association chairman of SMK Putrajaya Precinct 9 (2), Mohd Tahir had also found the knowledge useful in handling conflicts between teachers, students and parents.
“The aim of mediation is to ensure a harmonious and united community by not allowing petty issues to fester.
“What we want is to give the affected parties room to express their dissatisfaction and work out an amicable solution.
“It has helped to create a more peaceful and conducive environment in the neighbourhood,” he said.
Mohd Tahir said dispute resolution in the past usually took place informally in restaurants or community halls.
“Going to court is very adversarial, not to mention stressful, expensive and time-consuming,” said Siti, who set up a legal aid centre in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in 2010.
From her experience, she found that 70% of cases could be resolved through mediation.
“Most disputes do not reach settlement because there is no communication,” she said, adding that mediation gave the affected parties a chance to air their views while being spared from having to wash their dirty linen in public as the mediation process was confidential.
Siti emphasised that it was not the mediator’s role to decide, but empower the affected parties to come to a resolution.
In addition to neighbourhood squabbles, the mediation centre also handles divorce, inheritance, car and housing loans as well as bankruptcy cases.