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After much effort by many individual citizens and Coalition To Save Kuala Lumpur, it seems DBKL might be opening up just a little bit to hear the folks that pay their wages. However, it would be foolhardy to relax our guards. It is heartening that the statistics on the number of objections are being revealed by DBKL. People Power has made a dent, let’s continue with the battle for a better Kuala Lumpur. http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=/2008/9/26/central/2110286&sec=central

 

2.  Technology the answer to steep hillslope developments?

In recent month, we have heard Redha attempts to justify hill slope developments and claiming that many countries have successfully developed on steep hill slopes.  Sadly, Redha conveniently forgets that our planning authorities and developer are really much more interested in profits. Yes, both do make profits.  Many of you would have seen and read about the agony faced by Medan Damansara folks.  However, if you wish to know how much damage hill slope development can inflict on innocent residents in the vicinity of “malaysia boleh” approvals, do go to this site.

 

Amazing sight – ever seen a flooded hill-slope?

http://anilnetto.com/accountability/amazing-ever-seen-a-flooded-hill-slope/

As a sequel to the above link, it is good news that MPPP (Majlis Perbandaran Pulau Pinang) appears to recognize the dangers of steep hill slope developments and are taking firm action.  They have banned developments above 35 degrees and are insisting of developers compliance with proper development regulations.  Stop work orders have been issued and can only be lifted when fully compliance of development regulations are met.  Will DBKL follow suit?  Will our “first city” be so backward that it can’t even match the performance of a mere MPPP?

No more projects on steep hillslopes in Penang: MPPP

http://anilnetto.com/accountability/no-more-projects-on-steep-hillslopes-in-penang-mppp/#more-3570

Gary Yeoh

JAC for Bukit Gasing

 

Photo credit: anilnetto.com

BY BAVANI M, Star MetroCentral, Friday September 26, 2008
http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=/2008/9/26/central/2110286&sec=central

THE Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has extended the public hearing of the Draft City Plan from Oct 31 to June 2009.

Mayor Datuk Ab Hakim Borhan who made this announcement at the meet-the-press session on Wednesday said this was due to the overwhelming response from the public and that the Public Opinion Hearing Committee (POHC) needs more time to look into complaints with regards to the plan.

“So far the number of objections and views received has reached 5,147 as there was a surge particularly towards the last four days of the deadline,” he said.

Out of that number a total of 3,844 objections were received via the PA1 form while the balance were in the form of letters, e-mails, memorandum, and reports.

A total of 961 objections were made by groups while 4,186 were from individuals.

The mayor said that 3,974 have requested to be present at the hearing while 1,174 said they would not be present.

The committee have since heard 22 objections since Sept 4.

Meanwhile the mayor said that new Datuk Keramat market in Kampung Datuk Keramat will be fully operational by the end of the year. All piping, electricity and sewerage system will be up by October and traders will be able to move in by November.

by Terence Fernandez


PETALING JAYA (Sept 28, 2009) : Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), which in recent times has been accused of being a law unto itself, will soon have its wings clipped.

PEMUDAH, the Special Task Force to Facilitate Business set up by the Prime Minister one-and-a-half years ago, has “adopted” DBKL to ensure it toes the line in discharging its duties and dealing with the public.

In a statement today, the Task Force said the “adoption”, which takes immediate effect is “to ensure that DBKL becomes more customer-friendly and its service delivery improved”.

It is understood that the high-powered Task Force, headed by Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan had resorted to getting the Prime Minister’s approval to have DBKL come under PEMUDAH’s purview following many complaints and accusations against the local authority.

These include accusations of selective persecution where traders in DAP-controlled Bukit Bintang had claimed of victimisation for their political leanings following a series of raids just after the general election, where all but one of the 12 parliamentary seats in Kuala Lumpur went to the opposition.

Poor municipal services, haphazard planning and lax enforcement in other areas also stacked highly against DBKL.

However the major complaint of late has been at how City Hall has been handling the City Plan 2020, where serious flaws were detected in the draft and residents discovering that land which had been earmarked as public amenities or green lung have been rezoned as commercial. No prior consultation with affected groups and residents was done for the rezoning of these parcels of land.

Other matters ratepayers in Kuala Lumpur have taken issue with pertaining to the City Plan are insufficient objection periods, meetings held on weekdays and in the last minute, and the limited number of people allowed to raise objections.

Following several discussions – some heated – between Kuala Lumpur Mayor Datuk Abd Hakim Borhan and PEMUDAH members which include Mohd Sidek and Housing and Local Government Ministry secretary-general Datuk Ahmad Fuad Ismail, PEMUDAH had decided in a meeting on July 31 that the only way for DBKL to improve its image is for PEMUDAH to breathe down its neck.

In today’s statement, Mohd Sidek said a special Focus Group headed by Federal Territory Ministry secretary-general Datuk Ahmad Phesal Talib will be established to work with DBKL in addressing specific issues of service delivery.

Abd Hakim and the private sector members of PEMUDAH will sit in the Focus Group.

“PEMUDAH will have DBKL as a permanent agenda in its monthly meetings, with the Mayor making regular progress reports,” Mohd Sidek said.

He added that PEMUDAH had made significant strides in improving the public service delivery and its “adoption” of DBKL was done in this context.

In a recent interview with theSun, Mohd Sidek and PEMUDAH co-chair Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon said the issue of DBKL had come up repeatedly in PEMUDAH meetings and the election result was an indication of the people’s feelings towards the local authority.

“We are putting a lot of emphasis on City Hall to improve,” Yong had said.

Last year, PEMUDAH adopted the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) – widely regarded as the worst local authority in the country – following mounting complaints of inefficiency and even abuse of power and corruption.

While counter services have improved due to spot checks conducted by Mohd Sidek and Yong, voters had made PEMUDAH’s job a lot easier by throwing out some of the assemblymen accused of trying to influence the council in the awarding of contracts and leasing of land, in the general election.

“MPAJ is a lot better now,” Mohd Sidek had said

Lawyers Derek Fernandez & YB Sivarasa with residents of Bukit Gasing after the hearing. 

More Photos…

Watch the Video…

 

Whilst Medan Damansara residents live in fear  and residents near to hill slope developments clean up and count the costs in Penang,  residents living in fear of development by Gasing Meridian Sdn. Bhd. (GMSB) on Bukit Gasing where at the  at High Court KL today (9th September, 2008).

 

Our lawyer, Sivarasa Rasiah, opened with usual prologue of parties involved, previous hearing (or non hearing” of 13th June 2000) and agreed exchanges subsequently. A list of various filings and affidavits were highlighted for court attention. The main issues for today’s hearing appear to be: i) 2nd Judicial Review filing (pertaining to the 3 DBKL approvals), and ii) Stay Order (interim stop order) on development orders.

 

Sivarasa then presented certain chronology of events, including GMSB application to be 2nd respondent. Various points made relate to the meeting between Bukit Gasing residents with DBKL on 14th November 2007 on “Sub-Division of Land”. References were made regarding minutes of the meeting presented to DBKL by JAC for Bukit Gasing and DBKL’s version of the meeting. Significantly, the commonalities between the minutes were that “no DO was issued” and that DBKL had only approved the sub-division of land to GMSB.

 

 The court was told that despite various requests to DBKL for a copy of sub-division of land approval and layout plans, DBKL did not provide any information until 15th May 2008. The first sight of the approval was made available by GMSB on 16th April 2008 and not DBKL. It was via GMSB’s affidavit of that instant that residents came to know that 2 further approvals were given. The additional approvals were hoarding works (16th November 2008) and earthworks (31st January 2008).

 

 Various references were made to DBKL’s minutes of the meeting of 14th Nov07 that stressed on  no development order was given and sub-division was only a planning approval. Hence, claims by DBKL and GMSB of Judicial Review being out of jurisdiction of the court on “limitation of time” rule do not apply.  Other public statements by DBKL (Director of Planning DBK, Tuan Hj Mahadi admitting error in information) and Deputy FT Minister stating adamantly that no DO was issued speak in support of applicants’ position that Judicial Review request is right and proper.

 

 DBKL had informed residents that sub-division of land is only a planning approval and no development would be approved without thorough studies. Tuan Hj Mahadi had made statements that the 2 phased condition of lapsed DO of 1999 will be studied and perhaps more stringent conditions could result in consideration of applicable regulations. In fact, when the sub-division of land issued by DBKL was examined in full, it contradicts itself by first stating it’s for planning purpose and then sets out other notices that lead to the hoarding and earthworks approvals being processed as “administrative” (scribe’s own understanding) consequences.

 

As a layman, I am puzzled by DBKL’s speaking with forked tongue.  Is this a precursor to Bukit Gasing residents having to suffer the same fate as Medan Damansara and hundreds of other residents near hill slope developments in Penang?

 

 DBKL and GMSB position remained that of challenging jurisdiction of the court on “limitation of time” that had been rebutted by Sivarasa. A number of other legalities beyond the understanding of the scribe were thrown in as well.

 

Some exchanges between lawyers and the bench ensued. The clock ticked on.  As 5pm approached, exchanges turned to setting of the next hearing.

 

The hearing concluded that a further hearing on Friday, 24th October 2008 is to be held starting at 10:30am.  Given the expressed opinion of parties involved, the next hearing is set to continue into the afternoon.

 

Residents of Bukit Gasing and the many following this case wait as “In search for Justice” continues.  

 

Gary Yeoh

JAC for Bukit Gasing

Almost six months ago, on 17th March 2008, the High Court granted leave for a Judicial Review against DBKL’s decision to not holding a Public Hearing on proposed development by Gasing Meridian Sdn. Bhd.(GMSB) on Bukit Gasing – KL Side. The 108 applicants for the Judicial Review were also granted an interim stop order requiring DBKL not to issue an development order to GMSB.

We have had to put up with late affidavits being submitted, hoarding approval issued by DBKL suddenly being acted on and claims of ‘limitation of time’ arguments. It resulted in six hearings (excluding one that could not proceed because of heavy court scheduling), that were duels between lawyers whilst we watch in amazement and wondered when justice can be heard.

At last, the time is near for progress to be made. On Tuesday, 9th September 2008, commencing 2:30pm, our Judicial Review hearing and interim stop order against DBKL (GMSB is now 2nd Respondent) will be heard again. We are expecting that after months of legal manoevres by DBKL and GMSB, the High Court will now be able to hear some proper arguments. Whilst the Judicial Review arguments will probably continue for some time, we hope some clarity on the right of DBKL to presume itself to be above the law will be ruled by the court.

108 residents of Bukit Gasing had to find the courage and resources to commence action against DBKL. This blog is our voice to all of our fight and many others. Hillslope development and in particular, steep hillslope development endangers lives. Time and time again, we see the destruction of our hills and green areas causing turmoil to many. The reckless, arrogant, and many may add corrupt, inflict needless pain to many. We have all read, felt and tasted them.

This fight is not against developers. It’s against irresponsible local authorities that have not balanced the need for development against the good of many, now and in the future. They are the ones we must bring to heel and require transparency and accountability.

This September could be the continuation of  ‘Spring for Malaysia’, started by GE12. A time for regeneration of our hopes and aspirations of justice, transparency and good governance. Do join us if you can at the hearing. This legal battle will continue for sometime and if you wish to contribute to this cause financially please contact us for more information by commenting, [or click this link for information on how to contribute].

Gary Yeoh
JAC for Bukit Gasing.

A comment had been put up by A.L. in response to the collapse of retaining wall at Medan Damansara/Damansara 21 that seems to be in defence of developers and Redha.

Is A.L. somewhat confused about the reality of hillslopes and engineering? Whilst he notes fallen trees on the way to Fraser Hills, he fails to note that “engineering” has been unable to counter the tendencies of nature to react. If anything, he has provided further evidence supporting development on steep hillslope as risky, despite the capabilities touted by developers.

A.L. should understand that because of the many disasters on hillslope, guidelines on hillslope development were made. Current hillslope guidelines specifically prohibits developments above 25 degrees. The disaster at Medan Damansara would have been avoided if DBKL had applied the rules. Highland Towers would not have fallen if MPAJ had not approved further development up on steeper hillslopes.

Medan Damansara disaster is a result of the developer rushing to cut down trees on steep hillslope before adequate mitigation measure are taken. Has A.L. not seen the shamefull sheets of plastic masquerading as hillslope mitigation measures? To allude to the current disaster as a result of delays because of residents opposition is simplistic. A.L. should have taken note that the developer did not provide for adequate sedimentation ponds even at the earliest stage. Such is the rush to make profit!

The issues here relate to irresponsible developers and approving authorities. Rules have been ignored and required thorough studies and conditions were not made. If A.L. had, but consider the record of of developers rushing to build on hillslopes for profit or how inadequate approving authorities had been, he would not be so quick at turning a blind eye to the real danger of further hillslope development.

Past errors cannot justify continuing ignorance of our need to conserve limited forested resource in KL and Klang Valley.  It is our tendency to pursue economic and material gains that have led us to our current state of globe warming and diminishing water retention capacity provided for by forested areas. In Klang Valley, our rush to convert greens to concrete has resulted in flash floods, landslides and loss of lives. Our lack of provision for adequate infrastructures (e.g. drainage, transportation and other utilities) before building of all kinds are allowed to sprout cannot be allowed to continue.

It is time we cease to be deluded by developers’ claims of responsible, safe and sustainable development. What we need is responsible planning authorities that will look after the interest of many as opposed to that of the privileged few. Developers’ lack of care may result in tragedies years after they have sold their properties to the unsuspecting home buyers. It is time we have transparent approval processes with compliance with the requirements of hillslope development. We are not so short of land resources to justify steep hillslope development. Our municipal, city and state authorities must plan more professionally to control greedy developers.

Our pass ignorance must not be continued. Let sustainable development begin. Our future generation will judge us by our complicity in further destruction of our already limited green lungs.

Gary Yeoh
JAC for Bukit Gasing.

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