HOLDING events at Klang’s Dewan Hamzah is going to be an expensive affair once work to refurbish the public hall is completed.
In view of its new banquet hall concept, Klang Municipal Council’s (MPK) Valuation and Asset Management Department has recommended that the rental be raised to a whopping RM15,000 for a standard 10 hours compared to RM2,450 previously.
The RM500,000 refurbishment is expected to be completed by next week and the hall will be opened to the public for rental by the end of March.
Based on the proposal, there are two rental packages. Under the first package, the rent is RM15,000 for 10 hours while the second package costs RM8,750 for a minimum rental of five hours.
Amenities provided include tables and chairs, PA system including microphones, amplifiers, loudspeakers and related equipment and changing rooms – the same facilities made available with the old rate.
MPK president Datuk Mohamad Yasid Bidin said with the refurbishment, Dewan Hamzah was expected to be a high revenue earner for the municipality.
“Our proposed rental rates for Dewan Hamzah had been discussed at the Management Sub-Committee meeting.
“We want Dewan Hamzah to be an income earner for the council. The proposed rates are reasonable with the amenities and ample carpark space,” he added.
Mohamad Yasid said the redesigned facade, new interior and glass panels on the exterior, gave the building a refreshing feel.
“Dewan Hamzah is a cherished and well-used hall among the locals. It is one of 38 public halls that are regularly used for wedding receptions, community gatherings and events by non-governmental organisations,” he said, adding that sports activities would no longer be allowed at the refurbished hall.
Mohamad Yasid said once the hall is opened, MPK planned to rent it out for weddings, social gatherings, government and private company events.
On the higher rental rates, he said MPK would provide new and better tables, chairs, air-conditioned environment, PA system, as well as cleaning services with a proper management of the hall.
“We have decided that MPK staff will not be allowed to hold indoor games in the hall,” he added.
“Those wanting to hold indoor games can use the other 37 community halls around Klang that have been given a new coat of paint and improved lighting,” he said.
Contractors involved in the redesign of Dewan Hamzah took 18 months for the refurbishment works, he said.
“The work is now in its final stages as the new lift, lighting and roofing are being tested,” he added.
Refurbishment of the 45-year-old Dewan Hamzah faced objections from MPK’s Social and Sports Club members after they were told that their four indoor badminton courts would be scrapped and sports activities would not be allowed there.
Dewan Hamzah was jointly built by the Selangor Government and Klang Town Board.
It was opened on Jan 18, 1972 by the late Sultan of Selangor Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah.
MPK corporate communications director Norfiza Mahfiz said the municipality had the right to revoke hall bookings one day before the event if there was an urgent government function to be held there.
She, however, added that MPK would try its best not to revoke bookings for weddings.
Ratepayers told StarMetro that as the community hall was refurbished using monies from the assessment tax that they paid, the rental should not be too high.
Resident Bhagat Singh said as Dewan Hamzah was built to cater for the people, it must serve its cause to allow ordinary folk to hold their momentous events.
“We are going through challenging economic times and the public hall fees must be kept affordable and not used to generate income for the council,” he said, adding that some facilities were meant for the people to enjoy.
Resident Mohd Azlan Aziz said most Klang folk chose to have events at Dewan Hamzah because of its location.
“Paying a rental of RM15,000 is ridiculous as it will only make couples to take a loan just to get married.
“One cold, hard, post-wedding fact is that couples will go into debt to get married,” he added.
He suggested that the rental must be below RM2,500 and MPK must keep truly to its catchphrase – MPK Cares.
K. Hothiyakumar said MPK should not impose high fees for weddings at Dewan Hamzah.
“The council should clearly identify what the operational costs are as the hall is supposed to be operated using assessment tax.
“Charging such a high fee goes against the spirit of the community hall which is meant for the poor and middle-income groups,” he said.
Social activist Peter Tan said it was the people’s building and charging RM2,500 would suffice to allow people to enjoy the public facility.
He added that Subang Jaya Municipal Council and even the Hokkien Association Hall in Klang provided similar public hall facilities at a reasonable rate.