Groups gather to protest development

The Star, November 22, 2006
Story and photos by K.W. MAK

THE clearing of a slope by a developer to do soil tests on a portion of Bukit Gasing had residents from surrounding areas gathering to protest any sort of development in the area.

Residents said they were upset that a portion of the hill slope was cleared on Nov 7 and that the landowner, Gasing Sanctuary Sdn Bhd, had recently covered up the clearing with patches of grass and newly planted banana trees.

The hill is mainly sandstone and shale, which is prone to soil erosion thus residents are worried that should the vegetation on the hill be disturbed, it could destabilise a water reservoir belonging to Syabas located on top of the hill.

Some 500 residents gathered at the Jalan 5/58 playground at 4.30pm on Sunday and staged a protest, complete with placards and banners to show their displeasure.

Bukit Gasing Joint Action Committee organiser Victor Oorjitham had earlier led the residents with loud chants of “Save Bukit Gasing!”

Oorjitham said residents had written to the developer and City Hall to find out more about the company and the development proposed on the land.

“Their reply was always the same, that they have not completed their soil tests,” he said.

The Joint Action Committee represents three Bukit Gasing residents associations, the All PJ Pro Action Committee, World Wide Fund for Nature, Malaysian Nature Society and Environmental Protection Society of Malaysia

“We are worried because the land they are proposing to develop has a gradient of more than 15° and Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid had said recently that there should be no development on any slope with a gradient more than that.

“The land owned by Gasing Sanctuary is more than 15° with some areas, more than 70°,” said Oorjitham.

He said the residents were unaware if any plans to develop the private property had been approved and the lack of information from the developer and City Hall had prompted the residents to stage the protest.

Section 5 Residents Association legal advisor Derek Fernandez said that any plan to develop the hill slope should be made public as most residents could no longer believe that City Hall had the residents’ interest at heart.

“The recent ruling on the Highland Towers case has made the local authority immune to liability resulting from any action that they may take, hence giving us no confidence that the council would do their job right,” he said.

“We do not want another incident (like in the case of the Highland Tower tragedy).’’

Bukit Gasing assemblyman Datuk Dr Lim Thuang Seng gave residents some hope.

He said the people had a right to be concerned of any impending development and that he would support his constituents in protesting any such development. (End)