Monday February 16, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR: Resident associations have expressed their outrage at the Works Ministry’s “green light” for hillside development to continue.

The housing developers association, however, welcomed the an­­nouncement and labelled a total ban as “absurd”.

On Saturday, Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Zin Mohamed said land was needed for development as the country’s population was increasing.

Real Estate and Housing Developers Association president Datuk Ng Seing Liong said the move was a right direction for the country’s development. He said an official statement would be issued today.

Bukit Antarabangsa Residents Asso­­­­­ciation chairman Dr Mohamed Rafick Khan Abdul Rahman said the problem with such developments in Malaysia was the inadequate laws on the issue.

“In Hong Kong, each year US$70mil (RM252mil) is spent to manage hillside developments. They have an authority to oversee these pro­jects.

“In Malaysia, once a project is completed, it is handed over to the local authorities. But what kind of expertise do they have in maintaining these developments?” asked Dr Rafick, who created a stir by gate-crashing a press conference by Mohd Zin on Saturday and demanding the report for the Dec 6 Bukit Antara­bangsa landslide tragedy.

Dr Rafick said he was disappointed when he was told by the minister that he had no locus standi to ask him questions regarding the report.

“I didn’t demand for a copy of the report right there and then, I asked for the status of the report. When is it ever coming out?” he asked, adding that residents wanted accurate information on the tragedy.

Environmental expert Derek Fernandez, representing Federal Hill residents, disagreed with Mohd Zin’s statement on land shortage.

“The National Physical Plan provides and identifies sufficient land for development. The land in Kuala Lumpur comprises of a very large area. He (Mohd Zin) should be more concerned about public safety,” he said.

Medan Damansara Residents Association committee member Randhir Singh said the announcement contradicted Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s call on local authorities to ban all hillside development.

Meanwhile, Mohd Zin said he expected a follow-up report on the landslide to be submitted to him next week.

“I will study the report first before making any public announcement.”