Are our homes our castles? Are they not meant to be our sanctuaries, our safe havens? Are they not where we can just be ourselves and enjoy the pleasures of life?
Are they not meant to be where we can be with our families to spend quality time with them after a hard day’s work? They are supposed to be where we can leave our loved ones confident that they would be safe?
Well! There is a concept attributed to an English lawyer and politician, Sir Edward Coke, who in 1628, stated, “For a man’s house is his castle … and each man’s home is his safest refuge.”
So how does this tie into the various recent statements made regarding the licensing of homes for business purposes?
Several weeks ago, it was reported that Kuching North City Commission (DBKU) will make it mandatory for businesses operating from private residences to obtain licenses.
Our Local Government Minister, Datu Dr Penguang Manggil, also made an announcement that businesses operating from private residences have to be licensed.
Both the above statements were made due to the ever-increasing trend of businesses operating from private dwellings.
The running of businesses from homes has apparently led to many social, health and legal issues.
It is indeed time for the government to look into this matter more closely.
Many would say that the current enforcement against many of these unlicensed businesses is quite weak.
Even where an action is taken it is a very time-consuming exercise which exasperates the people who have been negatively impacted.
There are a wide range of businesses which are operating in urban residential areas across Sarawak.
Among of the most annoying and inconsiderate ones are workshops. These are car repair shops, small welding works, etc.
The noise pollution alone, not to mention the smell and various forms of discharge from these activities, could drive any neighbour up the wall.
Many of these workshops seem to be operating late into the evening as well.
How are the neighbours supposed to rest with the ruckus going on around them?
The operation of eateries is also a fast increasing trend in residential areas. These home eateries bring with them a whole new set of social and hygiene issues.
The patrons of these eateries park their cars all over the neighbourhood not only disrupting the flow of traffic but also in some instances blocking residents by parking in front of the house gates thereby preventing them from either leaving or entering their homes.
There is also the associated problem that these eateries discharge a lot of food waste into nearby drains. This had lead to blocked drains and foul smell which attract rats, cockroaches and other vermin.
I am sure the continuous smell of the cooking and noise from patrons are not welcomed by those living in the neighbourhood.
Many of us, of course, support entrepreneurship and the right of each other to earn a living.
Small business is an ideal way to start a business and grow. Operating from home ensures low startup and operations cost.
In fact, this is a great business model as not many people can get funding to kick-start their business and dream of being an entrepreneur.
But does it give these budding entrepreneurs, who want to turn their dream into reality, the right to make the neighbourhood into a living hell for their neighbours?
Datuk Bandar Abang Abdul Wahap Abang Julai is reported to have said that DBKU is drafting and sending a proposal to the Ministry of Local Government to come up with regulations to allow them to issue licences.
I am sure these proposals once approved would be standardised and the powers would be granted to all the local authorities across Sarawak.
With this in mind, I hope these proposed rules and regulations are firmly in favour of the people who just want to enjoy and rest in their homes.
There must be no leeway or loopholes for business operators to carry on any type of enterprise which is harmful, stressful and irritating to people in residential areas.
There are of course enterprises which some neighbours most likely do not mind such as small beauty salons, tailoring and other types of services which do not inconvenience neighbours.
Many of us do not mind the occasional noise during festivities, celebrations and gatherings. We are an understanding and tolerant lot.
Even the occasional noise and traffic jams caused by regular dropping off and picking up of students by their parents from houses in residential areas where night tuition is conducted seems to have become accepted by neighbours.
However, the government and local authorities are asking us to help preserve neighbourhood environments so that we can have peace and tranquility in our castles no matter how big or small.
In this ever-increasing and hectic world, I am sure we all need our beauty sleep and rest so that we can recharge and face the world again the next day.
Many of us look forward to stronger enforcement of existing laws to prevent nuisance in our neighbourhoods.
Neighbours from hell are many homeowners’ worst nightmares, and I do hope the proposed home business licensing regulations would strike a balance for quick and effective enforcement of the laws.
Let us all have the opportunity to treat our homes as our castles.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.