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Saturday March 29, 2008
The Star, Metro by BAVANI M
THE developer involved in the development of Sanctuary Ridge Kuala Lumpur City – a project to construct 68 bungalows on a 38-acre site in Bukit Gasing has started hoarding work at the perimeters of the development site.
A spokesman from the company, Gasing Meridian Sdn Bhd, said the hoarding was being erected pursuant to approvals dated Oct 2, 2007 and Nov 16, 2007.
“Hoarding is a barrier which is required before the start of any work involving construction, alteration, repair or demolition of buildings.
“For safety reasons we strongly advise that the public refrain from any movements into the construction site,” he said, adding that those with children and/or pets were advised to keep away from the construction site at all times.
The spokesman said that to facilitate hoarding, shrubs would be cleared to make way for the perimeter fencing.
“To reduce the need to fell trees, we will hoard around the trees that fall on the pathway of the perimeter. This will increase the time and effort needed to complete the entire hoarding process.
“As responsible developers – undertaking this effort voluntarily is necessary to reduce unnecessary felling.
He added that the company had distributed newsletters to residents in the area informing them of the hoarding exercise.
The Joint Action Committee of Bukit Gasing (JAC) and residents living in the area had recently gone to court to compel the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to hold a public hearing on the proposed development located on the KL side of Bukit Gasing.
The residents also wanted to see the necessary papers, technical reports and studies on the development.
They said that the project, which is located on hill slope, is dangerous and they feared for their safety.
The spokesman however denied that the development is unsafe and was against regulations as they (developer) had studied the site in detail.
He added that the Federal Territories Ministry’s Committee on the Sensitivity of the Environment had also independently reviewed the project.
The committee comprises experts from Ikram (Public Works Institute of Malaysia), the Department of Geosciences and Mineral, Public Works Department, the Department of Environment, National Soil Erosion Research Centre and Minerals following which the committee issued its clearance for the project.
The spokesman said that geology of the area was characterised by the Kenny Hill Formation, which has supported even high-rise buildings, including for two decades the condominium blocks in the vicinity.
The project does not encroach on the reserve of the Syabas water tank, which contains five million gallons.
Chan Kok Leong | Mar 27, 08 6:04pm
Property developer Gasing Meridien Sdn Bhd found a bigger stumbling block against its ambition to build bungalows on Bukit Gasing today. While in the past, DAP’s Edward Lee Poh Lin (Bukit Gasing state assemblyperson) was merely an opposition squeak, today he has a more powerful voice backed up by his PKR colleagues.
Together with Elizabeth Wong (Bukit Lanjan state assemblyperson), PKR’s S Sivarasa (Subang MP) and Hee Loy Sian (PJ Selatan MP), they made another plea to the developer to halt their work on Bukit Gasing. “Residents around the Bukit Gasing area have received letters from the developer Gasing Meridien saying that the project will proceed,” said Wong.
“As of today, we noticed that trees have been cut in the Kuala Lumpur side of Bukit Gasing. Although, we don’t have legal jurisdiction, nonetheless, we are very concerned as the effects are on the residents of Selangor,” she said.
“As state exco for environment, we are urging that Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) stop this work order until the legal matter is settled.” Wong, who was at the site today, expressed her surprise that trees were felled and work had resumed.
Among the initiatives, they will undertake is to ask the Federal Territory MPs to raise the matter with DBKL to halt the work and to re-purchase the land from the developer before gazetting it as a green lung.
“The question of the compensation will be done in detail but it should not be done at the profit of the developer,” said Lee.
Prevent heavy vehicles
Another idea raised was to prevent heavy vehicles from entering the work site from Selangor jurisdiction areas but the routes have not been identified as yet.
It was reported on March 18 that the Kuala Lumpur High Court has set April 23 to hear an application for leave by the Joint Action Committee of Bukit Gasing (JACBG) and a group of residents for a judicial review against DBKL to compel them to have a public hearing on the development.
The residents have also asked to see the technical reports and studies on the development. During a meeting with DBKL planning officials on Nov 14, their request for a public hearing was turned down.
Gasing Meridien earmarked 15.4 ha for development on Bukit Gasing. Out of the 68 plots of bungalow land, 54 will be sold with the buildings erected while the remainder will be sold as land only.
It is currently being marketed as Sanctuary Ridge and a check with them revealed that “almost half had already been taken up”. Work is expected to commence in August.
In one of the reports on its website, general manager KC Tan said that hoarding of the perimeters will commence over the next several weeks. The hoarding is being erected pursuant to approvals dated Oct 2 and Nov 16, 2007 from DBKL.
Meeting with MBPJ
Meanwhile, a group of PKR, DAP and PAS state representatives and MPs met Petaling Jaya mayor Mohamad Roslan Sakiman and officials of MBPJ today. “We had very good discussions and were briefed on how the system works and brought up some of the issues pertaining to planning, maintenance and how complaints are addressed,” said Wong.“This is just a start and we are pleased that some of the complaints were already dealt with,” she added.Among the matters discussed were the need for greater transparency in MBPJ’s dealings with the public, zero tolerance for corruption and that local councilors will be appointed by April.
Meanwhile, Lee said the new local council is also expected to have a higher representation from professionals and members of civil society.
“In my opinion, a fair representation would be 30 percent from civil society, 30 percent professionals and 30 percent nominees from professionals within political parties,” said Lee.
“This is a fair spread and will give everyone a chance to be heard,” he added.
However, this formula is still preliminary and is subject to further discussion and approval by the state government, he pointed out.
Another important point though was that plans for elected local councilors are in the pipeline.
“It could be a year or as long as three years but we are definitely committed to bringing back local council elections. Full democratic local council elections,” said Wong.
Although nothing concrete was agreed on how greater transparency will be implemented, Wong said that everyone agreed that future MBPJ initiatives, tenders, applications for development land or development work will be conveyed to the public via the press.
On the issue of declaration of assets by councilors and the mayor, Wong said that it was not discussed.
“We were thinking in terms of tenders and contracts but that is something we will bear in mind in our future discussions,” she noted.
DESPITE the on-going legal battle on the long-standing Bukit Gasing issue, the developer has gone ahead with construction work at the Kuala Lumpur side of the hill.
Residents received letters dated March 24 notifying them that work would be going on and the developer has begun felling trees and clearing the hill.
In the letters, the developer makes reference to approval letters by Kuala Lumpur City Hall dated October and November.
“City Hall refuses to show us the approval letters and it is very frustrating for the residents.
“I’m urging that City Hall issue a stop-work permit until the legal matter is resolved,” said the residents’ legal advisor R.S. Sivarasa, who is also Subang MP.
“Even though the development is on the Kuala Lumpur side of the hill, the effects are detrimental to residents in Selangor as well.
“We are not denying development but we are for preserving the environment because there are not many green areas left in the city,” Bukit Gasing assemblyman Edward Lee said.
“The judge in this case has given directives that residents can apply for a court order to stop work if construction begins while she is on leave until she comes back to deliver the judgement,” he added.
“We urge the Federal Territory MPs to fight for the interests of the residents. Bukit Lanjan assemblyman Elizabeth Wong will be meeting Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah to discuss the matter as well,” Lee said.
He added that the piece of land must be preserved even if the government had to buy it back at an appropriate price.
The Star – Metro
Wednesday March 26, 2008
By BAVANI M
Khan: ‘Now everything is topsyturvy’
IF only the rules are followed, there would not be such a mess in the nation’s capital city. True?
This is the question on the minds of city folks each time they see developments encroaching into green areas in their neighbourhoods.
The rules in question are the ones contained in the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2020 and the Federal Territory (Planning) Act 1982.
The mess? The unlawful hillside developments taking shape in areas like Bukit Sri Persekutuan (Federal Hill), Jalan Gallagher and Bukit Tunku.
Despite having the rules, the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has continued to totally disregard them by going ahead to approve ad-hoc developments in the city.
Ratepayers and residents are extremely unhappy with the way planning decisions are being made and projects approved in the city.
But what irked the city denizens most is the fact that despite being major taxpayers, they have absolutely no say in the way their city is being run.
In the case of Federal Hill, the question puzzling the residents is how an area designated as “institutional” (police reserve) has suddenly become commercial overnight?
What piqued the residents most is the fact that they have never been told by the local authorities concerned, in this case the DBKL, about what is happening there.
“There can be no taxation without representation,” declared an irate member of the Joint Action Committee for Bukit Gasing (JAC).
Taking shape: The development at Federal Hill.
“If you take bread from the people, you must be directly accountable to them,” said the member, who did not wish to be named.
“As a taxpayer I have the right to know what is happening in my neighbourhood. I have a say,” he said.
The JAC member said that the DBKL owed residents an explanation.
“The DBKL has to be accountable to us,” he said.
According to Federal Hill resident Tan Lye King, the residents had written numerous letters to the mayor, the area MP and the Federal Territories Minister, but they had not received a single reply from any of them.
“Why isn’t the government responding to us?” Tan asked.
Pook Li Yoon, who lives around the Federal Hill area, said that she would go all out to fight the developments in her area.
“The powers that be should take into consideration the wishes of the people. The recent election results have shown that we have an opinion and we want to be heard,” she said.
Pook said that she was in the process of collecting signatures from city residents and that they already had the support of the 10 new MPs of Kuala Lumpur.
She said they would be submitting the list to the Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Zulhasnan Rafique.
Unhappy lot: Residents of Federal Hill studying a picture showing the planned developments in the area.
He is the 11th MP and the Setiawangsa incumbent who was re-elected in the just-concluded general election.
The Federal Hill residents are objecting to a development in their neighbourhood, which involves the construction of two 30-storey blocks and one 16-storey structure as well as a five-storey podium right smack in their backyard.
This project at Lot 55, Jalan Travers is clearly contrary to the low-density and non-commercial proposal for the area in the KL Structure Plan.
“I came here under the Malaysia My Second Home Scheme a few years ago from Britain. I liquidated all my assets and bought a property in Federal Hill because it appeared to have a sound 2020 Vision,” Amar Khan said.
“We chose Federal Hill since KL is a garden city after all. Now everything is topsy- turvy,” Khan said.
Resident K.K. Leong said that when he bought the property at the Federal Hill, the S&P agreement clearly stated that the police reserve land was “institutional” and not commercial.
“Never in my wildest dream would I have expected this to happen. I feel cheated,” Leong said.
Local government and town planning expert Derek Fernandez, who is representing the Federal Hill residents, said that the ad-hoc developments by the DBKL was causing resentment among the KL residents against the government.
“The DBKL should have come out with a local plan by now, a detailed plan of KL so that residents would know the developments taking shape in their neighbourhoods and they can decide if they want to make an investment in their area or not,” Fernandez said.
He said that if a local plan was in place, then one would know if a particular area was low density or not.
Fernandez said that without a local plan there would be plenty of opportunities for abuses.
“By right no development order should be approved until a local plan is out,” he said.
Fernandez said that without a local plan, corruption could thrive and ad-hoc development was the mother of all corruption.
Development projects approved by the DBKL, which disregard the rules in the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2020 and the Federal Territory (Planning) Act 1982.
Case 1 – Federal Hill
2.1ha (6.2 acres) of land at Lot 55 Plot A, Section 70, Jalan Travers. This prime land belonging to the federal government has been categorised “institutional” use, which basically means that it is land for the police to build their quarters and offices and not for commercial use.
Yet, plans are being made to build two 30-storey blocks, a 16-storey structure and a five-storey podium, which is of high density. This is in clear violation of the KL Structure Plan 2020 which states that the Federal Hill must be left with low density population.
Despite the fact that the DBKL will be holding an objection hearing with residents on April 4, the residents are questioning the relevance of the hearing when construction on the site has already started. By right there should not be any form of construction before the objection hearing.
Case 2 – Bukit Gasing
15.4ha (38 acres) of privately owned land on the KL side of Bukit Gasing, which does not come under the green belt area.
The project involves the construction of 68 lots of bungalow units, with two units per acre. It was widely criticised because the development sits on a hill slope and residents are in fear of their safety via a possible future landslide.
However, what irked the residents most is the silent arrogance on the part of the DBKL in refusing to show them the technical reports pertaining to the development.
Apparently, the residents were promised a planning hearing by the DBKL but that did not happen. The residents claimed that the DBKL had acted contrary to what is stated in the Federal Territory (Planning) Act 1982, (Act 267), requiring local plans for KL that would have given the affected owners the right to be heard in respect to the proposed development.
The residents also said that the DBKL had not acted in accordance with the principle of Local Agenda 21, requiring partnership between the DBKL and the public.
The residents have since gone to court to compel the DBKL to hold an objection hearing.
Case 3 – Jalan Gallagher in Taman Duta
In 2005, the developers submitted an application to the DBKL to build 13 blocks of five-storey apartments with a total of 188 units at Jalan Gallagher.
This would increase the residential density from 10 to 75 people per 0.4ha. There was no attempt to adhere to the 10 people per 0.4ha density requirement and the three-storey limit to maintain Bukit Tunku and Taman Duta as high quality, low density residential area as stated in the KL Structure Plan 2020.
The new development will increase the density in the area by 750% from 10 people per 0.4ha to 84 – that is in violation of the laws.
By : Danutcha Chelliah
NST Online: 2008/03/18
Bukit Gasing residents thanking lawyer R. Sivarasa (right) as they leave the Kuala Lumpur High Court.
KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court yesterday granted a leave for judicial review to 108 Bukit Gasing residents, allowing them the right to express their concerns for a development project in the area.
The residents were also granted leave to quash the decision of the Kuala Lumpur mayor not to hold a public hearing on the application by Gasing Meridian Sdn Bhd (GMSB) for a development order.
The mayor’s decision was conveyed to the residents in a letter dated Dec 31, last year.
Judge Lau Bee Lan directed the mayor, who is the respondent in the case, to forward a copy of the reports and documents pertaining to the application by GMSB to the residents at least a month before the next court hearing.
The documents would include reports from a geological survey, soil structure and soil stability evaluations, proposed geohazard monitoring, hydrology report, environmental impact assessment (EIA), traffic impact analysis and social impact analysis from the authorities.
Also to be submitted are proposed site and lay-out plans, the earthwork plan with sections, the development report and documents produced by experts or consultants engaged by GMSB.
In their grounds of application, the residents, represented by counsel R. Sivarasa, said the mayor had erred in law and acted in excess of his jurisdiction when he wrote the letter stating that the procedure for hearing objections would not be implemented as it would violate existing rules and regulations.
The residents claimed the mayor had failed to take into account that they had a right under common law to be given due notice and to be given a chance to voice their opinions in the decision-making process of planning.
They stated that the mayor had acted in contrary to the policy and intent of the Federal Territory (Planning) Act 1982 (Act 267).
The Act required the preparation of a local plan for Kuala Lumpur, which would have given not just adjoining owners, but all persons in the Federal Territory, a right to be heard in respect of the development plan for their area.
The residents said the proposed development of 71 bungalows would be on steep hill slopes.
They also claimed that the 13 major landslides which had occurred in the Klang Valley and nationwide since 1993 provided ample proof of the real dangers in carrying out development projects on such steep slopes.
According to the residents, there had been a few landslides in the area.
These included a landslide which was apparently caused by hill slope development in 1971 which severely damaged six government owned bungalows along Jalan Tanjung, Bukit Gasing.
They said the existence of a 23 million litre water reservoir situated just above the proposed development site and a large underground pipeline on its western boundary, coupled with large scale earthworks from the development project, could weaken the soil structure and cause potential danger to the retaining structures at the reservoir.
The residents claimed that the proposed development would result in 15.52ha of hilly and secondary forest to be cleared and re-sculpted with an estimated 760,000 tonnes of excess earthwork to be relocated.
Lau set April 23 for an inter-parte hearing for the residents’ application to stop all further proceedings and actions by the mayor in respect of the application for planning permission by GMSB, pending the disposal of the inter-parte hearing for judicial review.
Beaming over positive outcome: Owners and residents of Bukit Gasing outside the court.
Tuesday March 18, 2008 – TheStar Metro
By BAVANI M
THE High Court has set April 23 to hear an application for leave by the Joint Action Committee of Bukit Gasing (JACBG), and a group of owners and residents for a judicial review against the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to compel them to hold a public hearing on a proposed development located on the KL side of Bukit Gasing.The residents also want to see the necessary papers, technical reports and studies on the development.Bukit Gasing assemblyman Edward Lee described the court decision as a mini victory.“It’s like being given the key to the door – to enter and present our case in detail and to tell DBKL not to allow any form of development in Bukit Gasing,” he said.“We have received very little information from DBKL. In fact, till today we don’t know the status of the land. We don’t even know if a development order has been issued,” said Lee.
JACBG committee member Gary Yeoh said DBKL’s lack of communication had forced them to go to court.“There has been no feedback from them and that is why we had to resort to this,” said Yeoh.“This is only the beginning. The court has granted us leave to proceed and we will be keeping a close eye on the area to be developed “If there is any hanky panky, we will file an interim order to compel them to stop,” added Lee.Yeoh said that he hoped DBKL would act responsibly and hold a public hearing.“As a taxpayer, I fail to understand why I am not told what is happening,” said Yeoh.The residents had submitted a petition to DBKL last year requesting for a public hearing but the DBKL sent a letter to the residents on Dec 31, 2007, refusing to grant them a public hearing.At a meeting on Jan 26, the concerned residents unanimously supported the move to take legal action against the DBKL and filed for a judicial review by the High Court.The proposed development by Gasing Meridian Sdn Bhd is to develop 71 bungalows on a 15.4ha site.It affects over 860 condo units, water reservoir and a 60m pipeline that supplies water to residents on the PJ side of Bukit Gasing.
Residents fear for their lives as the proposed development is being carried out on land where the soil structure consists of sandstone and shale and is unsuitable for any type of development.
The residents are worried that any form of development on the site could lead to a landslide.
Green sight: A file picture of Gasing Hill and the Section 5 residential area.
The group’s request for a judicial review also included the High Court to rule that the residents be informed and shown all reports, geological survey, soil structure, soil stability evaluations, proposed geo-hazard mitigation measures, environmental impact assessment, traffic impact analysis and social impact analysis carried out by the developer on the site.The residents said that DBKL had acted contrary to what is stated in the Federal Territory (Planning) Act 1982, (Act 267) – requiring local plans for KL that would have given the affected owners the right to be heard in respect to the proposed development.Despite gazetting the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2020 in 2004, it had failed to prepare draft local plans for the area as required by the Federal Territory Planning Act.
A resident of Bukit Gasing, C.Y Lee said that DBKL had not acted in accordance with the law, as well as the principle of Local Agenda 21, requiring partnership between DBKL and the public.
“Are they (DBKL) not answerable to us as taxpayers, don’t we have any say at all,” lamented Lee.
March 17, 2008 21:52 PM KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 (Bernama) — Bukit Gasing residents today obtained leave to seek a judicial review of the Kuala Lumpur mayor’s decision not to conduct hearing of their objection to a development project.
Judge Lau Bee Lan who presided over the case in the High Court (Appellate and Special Powers Division) here, also set April 23 for an inter-parte hearing of the residents’ application for a stay of all further proceedings and actions by the mayor in respect of the project pending the judicial review.
According to the Save Bukit Gasing website, Gasing Meridian Sdn Bhd plans to build 71 bungalows on Bukit Gasing.
However, a number of premise owners and residents of nearby areas have protested against the development, saying that it will clear 15.52 hectares of secondary forest and re-sculpture the natural features of the hill by removing almost 800,000 tonnes of earthworks.
Their request for a public hearing on the project was turned down by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall in December last year, hence they filed the application for judicial review.
A total of 108 people were named as the applicants.
They argued that Kuala Lumpur mayor had erred in law and acted in excess of his jurisdiction when deciding that the procedure for hearing objections would not be implemented for the application by Gasing Meridian for the development order as it would violate existing rules and regulations.
They also said that the mayor had failed to take into account that they had a right under common law to be given due notice and to be heard in the decision making process of planning.
They contended that such a duty arose from the local authority’s obligation to act fairly towards adjoining owners of a proposed development as decided in a a previous High Court ruling.
The applicants also said the mayor was acting contrary to the policy and intent of Parliament enshrined in the Federal Territory (Planning) Act 1982 which requires the preparation of a local plan for Kuala Lumpur and which would have given not just adjoining owners but all persons in Kuala Lumpur a right to be heard in respect of the development plan for their area.
The applicants claimed that the proposed development would be on steep hill slopes and based on 13 major landslides in nationwide since 1993, there was ample proof of real dangers in respect of development of such steep slopes.
They further claimed that there had been several incidents of landslides and geologocal structure difficulties within the vicinity of Bukit Gasing including one that Occured in 1971 where a landslide precipitated by hill slope development severely damaged six government-owned bungalows along Jalan Tanjung on Bukit Gasing.
The applicants contended that a reservoir with 23 million litres of water now sits on Bukit Gasing just above the proposed development and a large underground pipeline on its western boundary and such a large scale earthworks could weaken the soil structure and causing potential danger to the retaining structures.
Kuala Lumpur: Monday, 17th March, 2008:
Our High Court action to request a Judicial Review such as to compel DBKL to grant us a public hearing and provide tecnical reports has been given “leave” to move forward. This means the High Court accepted our filing and we can proceed with representations to argue our case in court. Date for this will be set in due course and JAC will communicate this as soon as date is known.
We were not able to get an immediate “stay” on DBKL issuing development order to Gasing Meridian today. However, a court hearing to argue our application for a “stay” on DBKL such that they do not approve any works development order until completion of our Judicial Review case has been fixed for 23th April 2008 (Wednesday) at 9:30pm in the High Court Complex at Jalan Duta.
At least 35 people from the community attended the hearing. Most of the support came from Gasing Indah (KL Side) and Maxwell Towers. Edward Lee and Hee Loy Sian(or elected representatives from Bukit Gasing and PJ Selatan) were there. There were also a number of reporters from the Press.
The High Court’s acceptance of our Judicial Review filing is a significant event. Together with the support from our newly elected representatives (both state and parliamentary) we are now in a strong position to argue and stop the unsafe development on Bukit Gasing.
Whilst we have had good support from some areas, we now need stronger support. For those that have not made contact with representatives of JAC in your community, we would urge you to do so as soon as possible to pledge support and contribute to the Trust Fund.
The JAC request that as many of you plan to attend the court hearing on Wednesday, 23rd April at 9:30am so that we are able to impress on the court that we are very much interested and concern about Gasing Meridian’s proposed development that will threaten our lives and properties.
Whilst we may have been fortunate to have newly elected representatives that are supportive of our cause, we must not loose sight of the fact that the DBKL is responsible only to their own agenda and that of the Federal Government. We have had to take the fight to the High Court because DBKL and Federal Territories Ministry have not acted on our concerns.
Many of you have been aware of various past promises and assurances that have come to nothing. Our newly elected representatives will need our consistent and real actions to bring change for our benefit. Please do consider what you can do to help actively as well as financially such that our voices, concerns and actions will be effective.
6th March 2008 – Petaling Jaya
At the Press Conference this morning, Mr. Edward Lee (DAP candidate for Bukit Gasing N34), reiterated his support for the campaign against development on Bukit Gasing. He pointed out the dangers if the development was allowed – that it could cause landslides which would result in the loss of lives and property.
Mr Lee expressed disappointment that Dato’ Ir Donald Lim and Dato’ Dr. Lim Thuan Seng had not signed the pledge to support the campaign of residents, although their respective manifestos endorsed protection of the environment.