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TheStar; Thursday February 28, 2008
PETALING JAYA: Barisan Nasional candidates have promised promise to look into their concerns of Bukit Gasing residents who are calling for zero development on the hill. Barisan’s Bukit Gasing candidate and incumbent Datuk Dr Lim Thuan Seng said he would not be forced into signing a pledge but would consult with the mayor to find out the reason for the land development approval.
The rights of the three condominium dwellers too have to be considered, he said during a question and answer session in a closed-door forum between Bukit Gasing and PJ Selatan candidates and the parishioners of St Francis Xavier church on Wednesday.“You can vote against me but my conscience is clear. I don’t want to make empty promises but would do what I can with sincerity,” he said in response to a member of the audience who went up the stage with pledge forms for the two Barisan candidates to sign.
The pledge contained a public appeal to the Prime Minister to say “no” to developing Bukit Gasing.PJ Selatan incumbent and candidate Donald Lim said he could not decide on the matter because he was not the Prime Minister but could show the residents the way to go about resolving the issue.
A member of the Joint Action Committee for Bukit Gasing said residents were concerned about the development because the hill structure was made up of only sand and mud, and the Geological Society had in 1994 confirmed that the soil was unsuitable for development.
“You are going to have a calamity of tremendous dimension if you go ahead with development projects,” he said.
“We have been fighting the case for two years and no action has been taken by the Government to stop the project,” he said.
Monday February 18, 2008
A GROUP of owners and residents have filed for a judicial review by the High Court to compel the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to hold a public hearing on a proposed development at the KL side of Bukit Gasing.
The application was filed on Feb 11 by 108 property owners from Maxwell Towers, Cameron Towers, Frasers Towers and Gasing Indah, all of whom live in the neighbourhood of the proposed development.
Joint Action Committee for Bukit Gasing (JACBG) committee member Gary Yeoh said concerned owners and residents have had a series of meetings and submitted petitions to DBKL, but DBKL sent a letter on Dec 31, 2007 refusing to grant a public hearing.
“At a meeting on Jan 26, the concerned owners and residents unanimously supported legal action against DBKL to defend our right not to live in fear of landslides.
“We are fighting for fear of our lives and property. We don’t want a tragedy like the Highland Towers incident to happen again,” said Yeoh.
He said that DBKL has not responded to their repeated requests for the development’s technical reports and plans, and residents are questioning whether DBKL has taken the right steps and right checks.
“The proposed development by Gasing Meridian Sdn Bhd is to develop 71 bungalows on a 38-acre site,” said JACBG committee member Victor Oorjitham during a meeting to update residents on its campaign against the development.
“It affects over 860 condo units, a water reservoir and a 60m pipeline that feeds the residents here.
“The hill’s soil structure consists of sandstone and shale, and is unsuitable for any type of development. Once the soil starts moving, it can’t stop and this could lead to a landslide.”
“We would rather talk than go to war. We have no option but to resort to legal action due to DBKL’s reluctance to be transparent and their lack of interest in addressing our safety fears,” said Yeoh.
He said the group’s application for judicial review requested the High Court to rule, among other things:
·DBKL had acted contrary to the intent of Parliament enshrined in the Federal Territory (Planning) Act 1982 (Act 267), requiring local plan/s for KL that would have given the affected owners the right to be heard in respect to the proposed development
·Although DBKL had gazetted the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2020 (KLSP) in 2004, it had failed to prepare draft local plans for the area as required by the Federal Territory Planning Act
·DBKL had not acted in accordance with many policy prescriptions in the gazetted KLSP that has the force of the law, as well as the principle and philosophy of Local Agenda 21, requiring partnership between DBKL and the public they serve within the context of sustainability
“The court case hearing is on March 17,’’ said Yeoh.
“We’re targeting to raise RM150,000 for legal fees and we have managed to raise more than a third so far,” said Yeoh.
“We’re still seeking the financial support, as well as the public’s support and commitment to get DBKL to hold the public hearing.”
For details, contact 019-480 8732/ 016-314 7334 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Kuala Lumpur 16th February 2008 – We, the owners and residents in the neighbourhood of the proposed development on Bukit Gasing by Gasing Meridian have on Monday 11th February, 2008, filed for a judicial review by the High Court to compel DBKL to hold a Public Hearing on the proposed development application by Gasing Meridian Sdn Bhd on Bukit Gasing (KL-Side).
DBKL’s letter of 31st December, 2007, denied the affected owners and residents in the vicinity a Public Hearing on Gasing Meridian’s proposed development on Bukit Gasing (KL-Side), we were forced to take legal action to demand transparency of actions by DBKL.
Gasing Meridian’s proposed development will be on steep hill slopes and unstable geological structure. Our request for information on the proposed development, technical reports and studies that should be conducted on such high risk proposed development, have been ignored by DBKL. We are asking the High Court to direct DBKL to make these available.
At the Public Meeting for concerned owners and residents on the 26th January, 2008, the meeting unanimously supported legal action against DBKL to defend our right not to live in fear of landslides. Although the Public Meeting was called at short notice and on a Saturday morning, approximately 300 people attended the meeting.
Within less than 10 days after the public meeting and just before Chinese New Year, 108 owners of properties adjacent to the proposed development signed up to be joint applicants to file for a Judicial Review by the High Court to quash the decision by DBKL not to grant a Public Hearing.
Our Judicial Review requested the High Court to rule that::
· DBKL had erred in law and denied affected owners’ their rights under common law;
· DBKL had acted contrary to the intent of Parliament enshrined in the Federal Territory (Planning) Act 1982 (Act 267), requiring local plan/s for KL that would have given the affected owners the right to be heard in respect to the proposed development;
· although DBKL had gazetted the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2020 (“KLSP’) on 19th October, 2004, it had failed to prepare draft local plans for the area as required by the Federal Territory Planning Act;
· DBKL had not acted in accordance with a number of other key requirements stated in the Federal Territory Planning Act which are key material considerations;
· DBKL had not acted with good practice, natural justice and fairness in applying a narrow view of their duties to the public and affected owners;
· DBKL had not acted in accordance with many policy prescriptions in the gazetted KLSP that has the force of law, as well as the principle and philosophy of Local Agenda 21 requiring partnership between DBKL and the public they serve within the context of sustainability;
· DBKL erred in law in not meeting fair expectations of the applicants to a public hearing based on assurances of various officials of DBKL and Federal Territory Ministry;
· DBKL failed to understand that the proposed development could have consequences similar to Highland Towers and should not be considered only from the perspective of the developer.
In the affidavit filed in the Court Action, we have provided full details of the dangers involved if approval is given to develop Bukit Gasing. We fear for the loss of our lives and homes.
We requested the High Court to grant a stay of all proceedings by DBKL in respect of Gasing Meridian’s proposed development application until the outcome of the full hearing of our application for judicial review is known.
As affected owners and residents, we fear the lack of transparency of DBKL. It is vitally important to us that DBKL do not permit any works to be carried out by the developer until the High Court has considered our judicial review request.
Gasing Meridian’s proposed development will clear 15.52 hectares of secondary forest on Bukit Gasing. They also plan to re-sculpture the natural features of Bukit Gasing (KL-Side) by moving almost 800,000 metric tonnes of earthworks. In addition to our fears of a disaster of Highland Towers’ proportion, the scale of earthwork and bio-mass removal from the proposed development will present safety and health risks to all residents in Gasing Indah, Petaling Gardens, Gasing Condos and Pantai Dalam.
We are sad that DBKL, as a flagship authority of Federal Government, had not given us fair consideration nor taken any steps to address our safety concerns. It is not enough for DBKL to claim that their experts have considered the safety issues, when the reality is that many of the fatalities were caused by landslides occurring after authorities have approved and monitored developers’ constructions.
Our Government have been championing transparency and have required all authorities to listen and respond to public concerns. Yet, there seem to be a “close both eyes” when DBKL blatantly seek to avoid addressing our concerns.
In recent months, we have heard of concerns raised by residents all over Klang Valley over decisions of planning authorities. In particular, Taman Melawati, Taman Hijau in Ampang, Kota Damansara and Bukit Damansara development approvals. All these relates to development on hill slopes, limited green reserves and wanton destruction of pleasant neighbourhoods without consultation of affected residents. It is time that the public in general raise their voices against authorities that refuse to involve or respond fairly to the community they claim to serve.
We need to have more accountable authorities that will weigh concerns of residents against greed of developers. We need planning authorities to act and demonstrate their commitment to sustainable and safe development by being transparent. They need to appreciate that not all opposition to development are just “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) complains. Our opposition to Gasing Meridian’s proposed development are based on genuine fears for our lives and homes. There are abundant signs that Bukit Gasing is not safe for development. Yet, DBKL seeks to avoid answering our concerns.
Due to DBKL’s reluctance to be transparent and their lack of interest in addressing our safety fears, we have no option but to seek justice at the High Court.
The residents intend to mount further campaigns to encourage DBKL to give due consideration to our concerns. DBKL aim to turn KL to a world class, tropical garden city. Their actions so far fall desperately short. We will not cease to fight for our right not to live in fear of our lives and homes.
We invite the civil societies and politicians that believe in our right to live without fear of landslides and in a “first world” living environment to support us by equally raising their concerns with DBKL and the Government.
DBKL has refused a “Public Hearing.”
DBKL has refused a “Public Hearing.”
108 owners living next to Bukit Gasing have filed a court case against DBKL to grant a “Public Hearing” regards development on Bukit Gasing.
A press conference will be held on:
Date: Saturday, February 16, 2008
Time: 10:30 a.m.
Venue: Function Room Block B, Maxwell Towers; Jalan 5/58C, 46000 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.Malaysia.
Please attend and support!
Joint Action Committee for Bukit Gasing
A letter was been published by NST on 30th Jan 2008, supporting Gasing Meridian’s proposal to build high-end bungalows on Bukit Gasing (KL-Side) as a solution to keep squatters away. The writer proposed that opposition to the proposed development is not objective and misguided. Immediately following this, a letter of 1st Feb 2008 supported the argument and suggested that squatters will increase crime, giving rise to danger to children.
As residents living near the proposed steep hill slope development by Gasing Meridian, we view the number of press reported fatalities from 14 major landslides as legitimate and objective fears. Steep hill slope fatalities from development since Highland Tower of 1993 (approved and supervised by authorities) in Malaysia is recorded as 142. From Klang Valley alone, the total recorded is 68 deaths with extensive properties destroyed and damaged.
We live within sight of squatter settlement in the area. The level of squatter housing in Pantai Dalam and Bukit Gasing (KL-side) has been stable over many years. It is spurious for the writer to suggest that “Over the last 3 years,numerous squatter huts have been put up”. In the recent year a few sheds and stalls, on the flat land at the edge of developer’s property, had been put up. Isn’t this more indicative of opportunists hoping to gain some payment from the developer?
To us, the squatters are wise about the dangers of attempting to build living quarters on steep hill slopes and unstable ground. They have never ventured to build up the steep hill slopes.
It is ludicrous to think that squatters have the capability to build on Gasing Meridian’s proposed development site. According to the developer’s figures, approx 50% of slopes are above 25 degree gradient, with 86.4% of the hill above 15 degrees. 3 high-end bungalows were abandoned on Bukit Gasing (PJ-Side) in the midst of piling works in recent years. Extension work by Sivan Temple near Fraser Towers in March 2007 caused a significant landslide. Mitigation work is still ongoing and there have been 2 further slope damage adjacent to the original landslide.
March 2007 – Sivan temple landslide:
We find the writer’s objectivity suspect. To attempt to justify dangerous development on steep hill slopes as means to curb squatters is misguided. To champion Gasing Meridian’s development as a means to contain an imaginery further incursion of squatters is hardly a sign of an objective mind.
Supporting letter justifying unsafe and environmentally damaging developments as a means to curb squatters lacks imagination. A proper argument to contain squatters would be for DBKL to accelerate its plans to improve housing in Pantai Dalam and kampongs in the area as in the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2020.
It is sad that we no longer look to fighting rising crime as a responsibility of authorities to understand the underlying causes of crime and implementing preventive measures. Equally disapponting is our reduction of expectation that our police should be doing more to provide proper policing. Shouldn’t the police and DBKL be the better answer to reduce squatter problems and rising crime? Surely a few multi-millon dollar hign-end bungalows (at RM 5.1 million/plot excluding building costs) would be more likely to attract crime? What if proposed development was abruptly abandoned for economic reasons? Would this not present a major threat to safety and an act of environmental vandalism? Let us not forget that the area has Rukun Tetangga actively operating.
Residents of Gasing Indah