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.

http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=/2008/3/26/central/20735707&sec=central

 

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