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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

I hope many of you would have had a nice break and in the process of facing the new year.  Couple of things for your diary:

1.  Our continuation hearing at High Court is on coming Friday 2nd January 2008 at High Court, starting at 11am.  It would be good if more of you can come and I hope some of you on holidays could help demonstrate the community’s interest in justice. Do pass the word round.

2.  As all of you know, many a development seems to have been approved without due consideration to most of the critical factors affecting residents like traffic, environment, safety etc.  APAC (All PJ Residents Association Coalition) has organized a demonstration at FAS Padan (Taman Megah Mas/FAS Tunnel) for the 29th Dec 08  at 11am.  It would be good if some of you could make your way there.  There are restaurants and shops nearby for you to have lunch later.  If we are to make the authorities notice our concerns, then we must give support to those under threat.  Please see below for more details of the demonstration from APAC.

Many thanks and regards
Gary Yeoh

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APAC (All PJ Residents Association Coalition) has organized a demonstration at FAS Padan (Taman Megah Mas/FAS Tunnel) for the 29th Dec 2008 at 11am.

Dear All,

APAC shall be organizing a Residents’ demonstration the 29 December 2008 Monday which is a public holiday @ 11AM Sharp against the proposed FAS Padang commercial development. We hope all residents in PJ will try to attend and give their support. The proposed development is clouded with controversy for a number of reasons.

How the status of the land – from ‘green lung’ or playing field converted to commercial use? RTPJ 2?

Was consultation done at all? (before approval)

Traffic congestion at the LDP, FAS and Taman Megah Mas Tunnel and the entire area is oversaturated!

over development in the area – Paradigm, NZX, Giant, more condos in the Kelana Area & Ara Damansara  which will definitely spill over to LDP Area population density problem.

environment issues and social problems

malpractices at MBPJ with regard to approval of land for development and Land conversion at the Land office

sales prospectus already printed and property are already for sale

For those who do not know the site, if you are coming from Motorola on the LDP, you will approach the Shell Station on your left and Giant will be on your right. After the Shell station, stay left (don’t go up the fly-over or ramp) and you will aproach the traffic lights. After the traffic lights go straight and you will see a bus stop on your left. After the bus stop turn left into Taman Megah Mas/FAS tunnel, our demonstration will be after the Mamak Restaurant but before the tunnel, specifically at the road junction further down at bus stop. See you guys there. All of us have to stand united to show the authorities we as residents are united against the FAS Project due the reasons mentioned above

If you guys are coming from the Damansara area going towards Kelana Jaya, then after the Kelana LRT Station, please stay left and go for the U-Turn under the ramp and stay left to turn into Taman Megah Mas.
I hope more of you reading this email will make an attempt to support the above events.  If you can’t make it, at least try to ask someone else that might have the time to support.

Happy New Year to all.  Let us all cooperate and make next year one that we will develop as a caring and responsible community.

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The Star Metro Saturday December 20, 2008

By BAVANI M

DISAPPOINTMENT, that pretty much sums up the feelings of members of the Coalition to Save Kuala Lumpur (CSKL) when they turned up at the public hearing on the draft Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020 (DKLCP2020) at the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) yesterday.

The members were told they would not be able to object to the plan’s legal status.

Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman, who is the coalition chairman, said he was disappointed with the public opinion hearing committee (POHC), when they were told that the panel had not received any feedback with regards to the legal issues from the DBKL’s legal team. Hence the Coalition would not be able to object to that aspect of it.

“We have been disappointed for a very long time.

“How can we proceed with our objections without addressing the core issue, which is the legality of the plan itself? Obviously the panel does not have the authority to decide as they are only making recommendations.” Abdul Aziz said.

The coalition’s legal adviser, Derek Fernandez, said it would be impossible to argue planning and technical matters when the fundamental point of the plan – which is its legal status – is not addressed first.

“Because our ability to argue depends on which are the applicable laws that have been applied and the planning framework that is required.

“If they (POHC) don’t know this then they should not be having a hearing in the first place.”

Derek said the coalition had made it clear five months ago that there were fundamental flaws to the draft plan such as density and zoning.

“The draft plan is illegal and in violation of the National Physical Plan, Town and Country Planning Act (Amendment) Act 2001. The plan failed to comply with Section 12A of the act because no proper consultation was conducted with the public.

“We are disappointed that at this stage of the game, these basic contentions have not been resolved.

“We will have difficulty arguing many issues – we are hoping that they will make a favourable ruling as to the laws – because we are legally correct.

“Even after six months you still can’t determine these, then why bother having a hearing in the first place.

“If they concede that these issues are correct then they must redo everything, start with a fresh plan otherwise it is impossible to move on,” Derek said.

“The NPP is a cabinet directive and agreed by the Prime Minister. If they can’t follow the Prime Minister’s directive, do you think they are going to follow ours,” Aziz asked.

Pantai Panoramic Gasing Heights resident Dr Teo Keng Huat, who was present at the hearing, said he felt that he was taking a step back.

“How can they not know about the laws and regulations. I did not expect them to be so irresponsible – it’s like going back to square one,” Teo said.

Datuk Pang Leong Hoon from Bukit Damansara said: “We came here to solve the legal issues, only then we can move on to the objections proper. Otherwise there is no point in going on.”

POHC chairman Datin Paduka Dr Halimaton Saadiah Hashim said she had not received information on the legal aspects of the draft plan from the DBKL.

“If it is decided that the draft plan is null and void then we can touch on its legal status.

“If the plan is valid then the case must be considered differently – but we certainly cannot solve it today otherwise we will be stuck in a deadlock,” she said.

Halimaton urged residents to go ahead and put forward their objections as to planning matters of which the Coalition refused.

“We are hoping for a favourable ruling in respect to the laws otherwise we may have to take the matter up to the courts,” said Derek

http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=/2008/12/20/central/2856494&sec=central

Dear Friends,

A week ago, the tragic events at Bukit Antarabangsa brought home the dangers of uncontrolled and poorly regulated planning approvals. Predictably, as in a well rehearsed “black comedy”, a chorus of sadness, regret, studies and promises for action followed. As night follows day, finger pointing and passing the proverbial buck quickly trot along. And so, we Malaysians, conditioned by many years of powerlessness to challenge the mighty forces, shake our collective heads and look the other way.

Yet, shouldn’t we pause and ask if each one of us can contribute in some way to stopping the rot that is slowly killing our ability to enjoy the life and the country we have? One need not be a martyr to be able to contribute to change. Each of us has the capacity to assist with the struggle for change.

Looking back to 26th January 2008, a group of some 300 people in our area (Gasing Condos/Gasing Indah/Petaling Gardens) gathered at the local community hall and collectively gave support to the JAC for Bukit Gasing to challenge DBKL. The donations collected and pledges made on that day amounted to RM28,000.  That meeting encouraged the JACBG to reach out and succeeded in getting 108 people to file a Judicial Review against DBKL’s refusal to hold a public hearing. See => https://savebukitgasing.wordpress.com/2008/01/ and https://savebukitgasing.wordpress.com/2008/02/18/group-we-want-a-public-hearing/

In taking legal action in the face of seemingly unstoppable powers of DBKL, Bukit Gasing is still dressed with cover of trees. We still have one of the main reasons why we all choose this place to be home. Still, it could easily have become like the Medan Damansara horror show. How easily could another time bomb be planted in our vicinity.

As a result of the Judicial Review court hearings, we found that earthworks approval had been given on 31st January 2008. Yet, on the 14th November 2007 at a meeting with DBKL, we were given the impression that no development order had been given and only a sub-division of land approval had been given. We were lead to believe that DBKL valued our inputs regarding the “proposed development” and our fears for our lives and homes. Even more amazingly, DBKL’s line of defence through out the hearing is that they had the right to proceed with approvals without due consideration of our fears for our lives and homes.

Despite the tragedy of Bukit Antarabangsa and Ulu Yam deaths, Amanah Raya/CIMB Building retaining wall collapse, and the reported landslip at Bukit Damansara today, the FT Minister and DBKL are still not prepared to come clean to call a halt to hillside developments. For residents in Gasing Indah, Gasing Condos and Petaling Gardens, there is to be a delay in making any decisions based on a somewhat questionable reason of legal suit. Medan Damansara residents will continue to live under uncertain times without clear cut decision to rehabilitate and restore their steep hillslopes.  To cap that, the “mighty forces” have filed defamation suit against the 4 office bearers of their RA. I am sure many others elsewhere are aware of similar action take by forces against accountability.

At this juncture, it seems the “nothing will ever change” and prophecy of powerlessness of “small people” are proven. Yet, do you expect the beast to lay down and be dispatched forthwith? Surely, you would expect it to fight back. The really question is are we prepared to continue the fight. Defeat follows when we give up. Battles can be lost, but the war need not be over. Success in stamping the rot is achievable and can be reached if we each lend a hand.

Residents Associations are beginning to mobilize to challenge forces that have too long had their way at residents’ expense. Safety of homes and risks to lives are increasing. The big question remains how many of you will be part of the change and not allow the light lit to be blown out? Visible and constructive support when called for and financial contributions are ways that each one of us can choose to give. If each give whatever is in their capacity to give, the struggle can be won.

Each one of us can contribute to making a difference. If not for ourselves, then for the generation to come. It is when someone should and nobody did that tragedy and pain continues. Will you act?

Many thanks and regards
Gary Yeoh
JAC for Bukit Gasing

Relax folks, this is not of the Medan Damansara fame. But its close neighbour, this time, to two huge reservoirs. Just like we have in the Gasing Hills. Interestingly Derek Fernandez quipped at last Saturday’s anti-hill slope development gathering at the playground in Jalan Setiapuspa, that twice he said a landslides would occur and twice in a row it happened almost immediately. Looking at the steep denuded Medan Damansara hill, he added “there will be more!” The oracle of Delphi couldn’t have been any more impressive!

Ashok M

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Landslip causes panic in Bukit Damansara
NST – Local News, Monday December 15, 2008
http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/Monday/National/2428474/Article/index_html

KUALA LUMPUR: Residents of Lorong Setiabistari in Bukit Damansara are living in fear of a landslide disaster, after a landslip occurred near the slope opposite their row of houses yesterday evening. The slope, which gave way from an estimated height of 20m, was several metres short of hitting the ground.

On top of the slope, two water reservoirs are sitting precariously, and any soil movement can rock them, causing thousands of gallons of water to flood the residential area.

City’s Fire and Rescue Department commander of operations Azizan Ismail said they received a distress call at 5.05pm and a fire engine from the Sri Hartamas station was rushed to scene.

“We have evaluated the extent of the landslip and have called in the authorities to check on the soil stability and movement. “For now, the situation is stable, but we are on standby for further signs,” he said, adding that a thorough investigation would be carried out today.

Several officers from the Public Works Department, City Hall and Malaysian Public Works Institute were also at the scene.

A resident, K. Jeyasekara, 31, said similar landslip had occurred five years ago, but it was a couple of metres away from yesterday’s spot. A retaining wall was later built.

“The retaining wall only covered the affected area. It should have covered the whole stretch, then this would not have happened.”

Another resident, who only wanted to be known as Steve, agreed, adding that his main concern was the reservoirs.

“A disaster is just waiting to happen with the reservoirs teetering on the edge of the slope.

“If the earth gives way or there is some movement, imagine what will happen,” he said.

Meanwhile, Brickfields police chief ACP Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid, who visited the scene, said police were monitoring the situation and the residents would be evacuated if needed.

——————————————————————————————————————-

More…

Malay Mail By G. Prakash     December 15, 2008

http://www.mmail.com.my/Bkt_Damansara_on_edge.aspx

Bkt Damansara on edge

A land slip at Bukit Damansara yesterday evening raised concern among residents in the area, the technical staff from the Public Works Department (PWD), firemen and the police, what with the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide tragedy still fresh in everyone’s minds….

bkt_damansara_on_edge

KUALA LUMPUR: Residents of Medan Damansara want the hillside development on Damansara 21 to be scrapped and not just put on hold.

Medan Damansara Residents’ Association committee member Randhir Singh said although a freeze order had been put on the project, it did not mean that it would not be lifted.

“Only a freeze order had been issued. This means the order can be lifted in a month or three months’ time.

More: http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/Saturday/Frontpage/2427242/Article/index_html

Peter Raiappan, the secretary of the Medan Damansara Residents Association speaking to residents at the meeting.

Peter Raiappan, the secretary of the Medan Damansara Residents Association speaking to residents at the meeting.

How low can things get? The pinnacle of cowardice is when individual(s) in a body corporate, use funds from public institutions to launch massive punitive and intimidating lawsuits against citizens seeking protection of life and limb and property under perpetual threat of a landslide arising from shaky and ill conceived development projects.

Such lawsuits bring shame not just upon Developers, it equally drags into disrepute the many professional arms of industry associated with such developers – the banking, insurance, legal, engineering, architectural and government agencies.

Finally it makes a mockery of a nation, where the common man who toils for simple honest wages, may be viciously set upon by vulgar, well connected and greedy corporate institutions whose primary mission is the servicing of the ultra, ultra wealthy. And that too at a time, when any street hick will tell you, that the property markets globally are entering a severe economic slump, expected to last not less than five to ten years.

Ashok M

JACBG

===================================================

The star Online  Updated: Saturday December 13, 2008 MYT 5:57:34 PM

By NG SI HOOI

KUALA LUMPUR: The Medan Damansara Residents Association has set up a fund to raise money to support its four office bearers who are being sued by SDB Properties Sdn Bhd.

The association president P. Subhakaran said the four including himself, Datuk Seri Dr Abdul Shukor Abdullah (who was then the association president), Peter Raiappan and Randhir Singh was being sued for defamation in their personal capacity.

“We have filed our defence and hired a lawyer to represent us.

“I am ready for the day in court, We have been given a mandate by the residents to protect their interest,” he told reporters after attending a meeting between residents and several MPs including Deputy Federal Territories Minister Datuk M. Saravanan on Saturday.

The developer had filed a suit against the four in their personal capacity at High Court three months ago.

Subhakaran said the association hoped to meet the Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Zulhasnan Rafique, new Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Ahmad Fuad and relevant authorities to highlight their plight.

The association assistant secretary Randhir Singh said the association wanted the government to scrap instead of freezing the Damansara 21 hillside project.

“The authority may continue the project later. We want the government to put a stop on it.

“About 14.9% of the hillside is above 35 degree. It is not safe to the residents nearby. What is more important, the human life or developer?” he asked.

Randhir said the association appealed to all banks and financial institutions not to finance high-rise development hillside projects.

“The banks talk about the corporate social responsibility and environmental campaign but yet they still finance to these kind of developers.

“We also appeal to professionals including consultants and lawyers to not be part of such developments,” he said.

He said the residents as well as non-residents had been very supportive to the fund set up by the association three weeks ago.

“We even receive donations from those who are not staying here. We welcome donation for the fund to help the four who are being sued,” he said.

He said the association had set up a blog to highlight the plight of the residents on the website.

The address is http://www.medandamansara21.blogspot.com/

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/12/13/nation/20081213162256&sec=nation

More Photos here….

rocky’s bru

Four sued in personal capacity. Three months before the Bukit Antarabangsa disaster happened, a public-listed developer sued four office bearers of a residents association.

Shearn Delamore & Co are acting for the property developer. I was told that prominent lawyer Robert Lazar is handling the case against the residents for the public-listed giant. The suit, filed on Sept 2, is believed to be the first by a prominent housing developer against a residents’ association.

A resident said he believed the four were being sued in their personal capacity in order to intimidate them and the association as a whole….More

Read and you’ll see the half baked, cautious and conditional ban and freeze, that leaves ample room for development to resume once the heat of the moment subsides. This lack of will to safeguard human lives is what happens when the Government gets into business – profits before principles.

If the 25 – 35 degree slopes are to be ‘studied further, for reinforcement, etc etc’ which in all probability will not be worth the paper that its written on, we should demand, that there must be an additional guarantee in perpetuity of a landslide insurance against loss of life and property for all affected stakeholders in and around the development project, to be borne by the Government, Federal or Local body giving the project development approval.

Ashok M

JAC for Bukit Gasing

—————————————————-

FLASH:No development on steep hillslopes
Bernama, NST Frontpage, December 12, 2008
http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/Friday/Frontpage/20081212172050/Article/index_html

KUALA LUMPUR, FRI:

The Federal Territory Ministry today decided not to allow any development projects on hillslopes of more than 35 degree gradient and freezes projects on hillslopes with gradient of between 26 to 35 degree, its minister Datuk Seri Zulhasnan Rafique said in Putrajaya.

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No development on hill slopes exceeding 35 degrees gradient in FT
Bernama, NST Frontpage, December 12, 2008
http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/Friday/NewsBreak/20081212194954/Article/index_html

PUTRAJAYA, FRI:

The Federal Territories Ministry today decided to disallow any development on hill slopes with a gradient of more than 35 degrees in the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan. Its minister, Datuk Seri Zulhasnan Rafique said projects on hill slopes with a gradient of 26 to 35 degrees would be frozen until such time when a proper planning, design and control system had been devised and enforced by the government.

“However, the developers or contractors of the affected projects will be asked to carry out work to reinforce the soil structure including constructing a proper drainage system to ensure that the soil structure is safe from landslides,” he told reporters at a press conference at his office, here today.

Zulhasnan said that for projects on hill slopes that had already been approved, the developers or contractors would not be allowed to carry out earth works or building construction until the government had reached a decision.

“The Ministry of Housing and Local Government and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment are carrying out studies on this matter and they will issue guidelines on such developments soon, and whether these projects would continue will depend on these guidelines,” he said.

Zulhasnan said that currently three projects in Kuala Lumpur had been identified as risky, namely the development of 21 units of bungalows in Medan Damansara, the development of a block of service apartments in Bukit Ceylon, and the development of bungalows on Bukit Gasing.

For the projects in Medan Damansara and Bukit Ceylon, he said the developers had been ordered to stop development work and, instead, asked to reinforce the slopes as had been approved.

For the project in Bukit Gasing, Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) had postponed consideration for the application to build individual bungalows as the case had been taken to court because the residents of Taman Bukit Gasing were not happy with the approval given for the project.

malaysiakini December 12, 2008
Derek Fernandez, Petaling Jaya City Council councillor and Joint Action Committee for Bukit Gasing Chairperson welcomes today’s announcement by Federal Territories Ministry to ban hillside projects on Class IV slopes.

FT Minister Datuk Seri Zulhasnan Rafique also announced that there will be a temporary freeze on all projects on Class III slopes in Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya.

Camera: Shukri Mohamad

Editor : Azreen Madzlan

Controversial hillslope projects like this one may have to come to a stop.

Controversial hillslope projects like this one may have to come to a stop.

NST Streets Friday, 12 December 2008

Noel Achariam

KUALA LUMPUR: A decision on whether hillside developments will be allowed to continue is to be announced today by Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Zulhasnan Rafique, but a ministry source says there will be “good news.”

Good news for whom? It is presumed he meant good news for the people.

After a month of close monitoring and conducting tests on controversial developments like Medan Damansara 21 and two other hillside projects, it now looks like these projects will be put on hold.

A City Hall source said a report has been submitted to the Cabinet recommending that the projects be stopped.

Several authorities, including City Hall, Federal Territories Ministry and Public Works Department, have been carrying out tests on the sites.

Zulhasnan had also visited the areas thrice in the last one month, said a ministry official in rebutting complaints that the minister has been turning a deaf ear to their pleas.

On Wednesday, a resident said his association had written three times to Zulhasnan but had never received a response.

The official said: “The residents claim that the minister did not visit the area. He went there unannounced. He need not inform the people that he was going there. He did not go there for publicity, but on a fact-finding mission.”

He said the visits were made even before the Bukit Antarabangsa landslip last week.

Medan Damansara residents have protested against the hillside development for the past two years.

The official said that after his site visits, Zulhasnan had instructed City Hall officials to study all aspects of the development and present a report. It is believed the report has been submitted to the Cabinet for further action.

Two other controversial KL projects, on Bukit Gasing and Bukit Ceylon, are also expected to be halted.

The ministry’s sensitive areas environment committee will be conducting more tests on all affected projects.

Other details such as the ministry’s views on monetary compensation demanded by residents, and legal implications of the proposed decisions, were not available.

The Medan Damansara 21 project, by a unit of Selangor Deredging, consists of 21 bungalows priced between RM10 million and RM15 million each. A recent landslip there caused two families to evacuate.

The Gasing Hill development, by Gasing Meridien Sdn Bhd, sits on a 10-metre ledge facing Pantai Hill Park and Andalucia condominium, and involves the construction of 142 bungalows.

Residents living nearby believe the development is unsafe.

Residents of the Federal Hill green lung are protesting against a proposal to build a nine-storey block of police quarters, three-storey police station and three high-rise blocks of commercial offices.

Residents are also concerned about the safety of the Bukit Ceylon hillside development, comprising a block of 34-storey apartments and three blocks of 43-storey apartments.

http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/Streets/Friday/Stories/2425661/Article/

theSun | FRIDAY DECEMBER 12 2008

Down2Earth
by Terence Fernandez

FIRST they came armed with “facts and figures” as well as executive councillors who acted as their spokespersons. They regaled us with successful hillslope development examples in Taiwan and Hong Kong and spoke of cutting down hills and dumping them in valleys as though it was admirable!

And now with the Bukit Antarabangsa tragedy, they have gone into public relations overdrive by offering their services in the rescue efforts and (this is laughable) audit landslide-prone areas! I am not calling the Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (Rehda) members bandits, but as the saying goes, how can you ask the fox to look after the chicken coop.

And enough of this sandiwara.

If Rehda was really concerned with public safety, it would on its own accord get its members to be responsible developers and abandon all plans for hillslope projects. But no. At RM10 million a bungalow (as in the case of Damansara 21), the call of the ringgit is too alluring to ignore. So what, if there is another tragedy?

Even after the Pakatan Rakyat state government had in April declared its ban on Class Three and Class Four hillslope projects, Rehda members were still attempting to get the state government to reverse its policy.

This was evident at a dialogue on Aug 17 where they tried to pull every trick out of the hat to justify building on slopes…more

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