You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2009.
The Star Metro – Monday April 27, 2009
By YIP YOKE TENG
RESIDENTS of Bukit Gasing are delighted that the High Court has granted them leave to proceed with an application to nullify the development order on a Bukit Gasing project issued on Oct 2, 2007 by the then Kuala Lumpur mayor Ruslin Hassan.
The application for leave was filed by residents and the Joint Action Committee of Bukit Gasing (JACBG) in an effort to seek a public hearing on the said development.
The next hearing has been set for May 27.
“We clearly believe that our call for justice has been heard by the judge,” said JACBG committee member Gary Yeoh.
“We demand from the City Hall our right to be heard, especially after the tragedies at Bukit Antarabangsa, Bukit Ceylon and Jalan Semantan. We are talking about 890 units in three condominium blocks, a 23million-litre reservoir and Bukit Gasing that has a history of being geologically unstable,” he added.
Another resident Kamar Mohamed urged the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and new mayor Datuk Ahmad Fuad Ismail to act in accordance with the Prime Minister’s call of “people first” and “performance now”.
“We hope they won’t waste any more of the court’s time and show us transparency in approving and executing projects,” he said.
Lawyer R. Sivarasa, who represented the residents, said the judge had ruled that the case was not vexatious and had therefore given the green light.
“Justice Lau Bee Lan sees this as a serious issue that needs to be debated, agreeing that we have a point and the residents deserve to be heard,” he said.
He said the issue to be raised at the next hearing would be whether residents in Kuala Lumpur had the right to be heard when a development project took place near their houses.
According to him, the local authority had denied the request for a public hearing based on the Federal Territory Planning Act 1982, which stipulated that such action was not required when the development did not involve change of land use and density.
“However, the rest of the country has the right to do so as stated in the Town and Country Planning Act 1976 (Amendment) 2001, regardless of the change of land use or density,” he said.
In a press statement, the developer, Gasing Meridien Sdn Bhd (GMSB), said it was concerned that Justice Lau “had left opened a matter of whether the complainant had legal interest to apply for a judicial review of the development order”, adding that it would work with its counsel to make additional presentations at the next hearing.
It reiterated that all approvals, including the Development Order, Hoarding Permit and Earthworks Permit, had been obtained and that the project had been reviewed by the Sensitivity Committee of the Federal Territories Ministry, which comprised 13 agencies (including the Malaysian Public Works Institute (Ikram), Selangor Department of Environment (JAS), Mineral and Geosciences Department (JMG), Drainage and Irrigation Department (JPS) and JKR Cerun).
“Our development is not part of the forest reserve. Our land has been privately titled with the express land use condition of ‘Bangunan’ since 1977 (well before any of the complainants came to live in the area). We highlight that there has been no change in use or density,” the statement reads.
“The geology of the area is safe and sturdy. For almost two decades, it has sustained not just many bungalows but even condominiums weighing over 64,000 tonnes each.
“We highlight that in comparison the load per bungalow is less than 180 tonnes each.”
Today, 24th Friday 2009, the High Court granted leave for the Judicial Review filed by concerned residents against the proposed development at Bukit Gasing.
Thirteen (13) months ago, High Court judge Mdm Lau Bee Lan granted an ex-parte leave for a Judicial Review, filed by 108 applicants, to declare DBKL’s decision not to grant a public hearing on the proposed development by Gasing Meridian Sdn. Bhd. (GMSB) that is on the steep hill slopes of Bukit Gasing. Finally, after 12 visits to the High Court, the residents are relieved to have the High Court again grant leave for the Judicial Review despite strident and arrogant opposition by both DBKL and GMSB.
Whilst it is not a victory, this decision is another significant step towards residents’ fears of a “Highland Towers” or “Bukit Antarabangsa” like disaster upon them, being heard in a responsible and transparent manner. Since, the catastrophic landslide at Bukit Antarabangsa in December 2008 and despite outcries against development on hillside development, DBKL has remained uncaring about concerns of residents at Bukit Gasing or that a time bomb could have been planted by their approval of the proposed development. They have in effect continued to put forward that our concerns and fears are unreasonable and that they have the expertise to make developments safe. If Damansara 21 and Amanah Raya retaining walls collapses last year were examples, the reliability of DBKL ability to monitor and ensure safe hillside and hill slope developments is clearly lacking. The manner DBKL had given 3 approvals to facilitate GMSB’s plans for Sanctuary Gasing (the name of proposed development on the steep hill slopes of Bukit Gasing) should give cause for concern.
In granting leave, Judge Mdm Lau acknowledged that there is at least a cause to consider if DBKL had acted correctly, in not taking into account the Town and Country Planning Act – Amendment 2001, that came into effect in March 2002. This amendment to the Town and Country Planning Act in effect brings Federal Territories (i.e. DBKL) into having to abide by Town and Country Planning Act as with all other planning authorities in Malaysia. DBKL’s ability to ignore public concerns and act without care for proper planning approval processes will become history.
As residents living next to the proposed development in Bukit Gasing, as much as we welcome the granting of leave for the Judicial Review, we are concerned at the attitude of DBKL to the public they are meant to serve. We wonder if DBKL will consider it to be covered by the demand by our new Prime Minister’s call for People First, Performance Now, vision. Can we expect the new Federal Territory Minister and Mayor of Kuala Lumpur to concede that approvals given by DBKL for developments in Bukit Gasing, Medan Damansara, Bukit Ceylon and other hillside/steep hill slope developments do not meet the new vision required by our new Prime Minister?
To our supporters and residents, today’s decision by the High Court demonstrates that our fight against DBKL is not “a bridge too far”. It may take time and focus. We can win this war against unsustainable and unsafe development at Bukit Gasing.
To others faced with similar plight, we hope that the progress we have made gives you cause to hope and continue your opposition against wanton destruction of our environment and risks to your safety.
JAC for Bukit Gasing
High Court has again called our solicitors this morning to advice that the hearing that was supposed to be for this afternoon (Monday, 13th April 2009) will be postponed again!
The High Court is now scheduled to announce its decision on leave to proceed with our Judicial Review against DBKL on Friday, 24th April 2009 at 2:45pm
This is the fourth postponement by the High Court. Please let us all be patient. Whatever our frustrations are, we should continue to keep faith that Justice will prevail.
Barring a further postponements, I hope those monitoring this blog will plan to be at the High Court for the long awaited announcement that Justice, Transparency and People First will be the High Court’s decision.
JAC for Bukit Gasing
Some of you may have seen the film “A Bridge Too Far” or have heard the phrase “a bridge too far”. Is SaveBukitGasing digressing a tad too much? I hope not.
On 17 September 1944, thousands of US & British paratroopers descended from the sky by parachute or glider up to 150 km behind enemy (German) lines. Their goal was to secure bridges across the rivers in Holland so that the Allied army could advance rapidly northwards and into Germany with hope to end WWII before Christmas 1944. Alas, after 10 days of intense fighting, the failure to secure the bridge at Arnhem (the last major bridge that had to be secured) amidst various problems, caused the Allied army to withdraw and the campaign failed.
For SaveBukitGasing and the residents affected by proposed development by Gasing Meridian Sdn Bhd, our fight is against DBKL and FT Ministry. Our fight had been driven by a fear of “Highland Towers” disaster at our doorsteps. Our determination had been further stiffened by the unfortunate landslide disaster at Bukit Antarabangsa.
As early as September 2005, residents of Section 5 in PJ had written to the then Mayor of KL raising concerns about proposed development at Bukit Gasing (KL side). Numerous other letters and petitions were sent to DBKL and FT Ministry. Meetings were held with senior officers of DBKL and FT Ministry since 2005. Letters were written to the former Prime Minister. Two previous Mayors of KL even gave categorical assurances that no development would be allowed on Bukit Gasing.
Despite all the above, on 31 December 2007, DBKL issued letters to residents opposing the proposed development that their request of public hearing will not be entertained. As a result, concerned residents had no choice but to file an application for Judicial Review of DBKL’s decision. Subsequent inter-parte hearings on the application revealed that DBKL was not merely denying residents their rights to a public hearing. DBKL had in fact given certain approvals to the developer whilst presenting a facade of listening to the residents’ safety concerns and paying lip service to application of building regulations to development applications.
DBKL had presented developer’s application for sub-division of land as an administrative approval that landowners are entitled to. Yet, that approval seem to be the basis that approvals for erecting hoardings and earthworks were given, almost as an administrative process. Residents’ request for a copy of the approval of sub-division of land received no responses.
Those that had been monitoring the news on Bukit Gasing would have noted the farce of the Deputy FT Minister having been told that no development orders were given whilst the Director of Planning DBKL said that DOs had been given in stages. How did the Director of Planning justify approving earthworks on steep hill slopes when the Federal Town and Country Planning Department’s “Total Planning Guidelines” 1997 (2nd edition, 2001) prohibits development on hill slopes greater than 25 degrees gradient? The reason for this is to ensure the safety of residents. Almost 50% of the hill slopes of the proposed development are above 25 degrees gradient, a figure submitted by the developer.
The High Court was initially scheduled to announce its decision on leave to proceed with the residents’ application for Judicial Review on 20th February 2009. It seems events are such that 3 postponements had to be issued at short notices by the High Court. “D Day” is now set for Monday, 13 April 2009 at 2:30pm.
So, will the case of Bukit Gasing’s request for Judicial Review in its fight against development on Bukit Gasing be “a bridge too far”? We hope not, if the case of the Former Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin is to be used as the most recent bench mark. Our solicitors had presented a very strong case to demonstrate that application for Judicial Review is neither frivolous nor vexatious.
Whilst the Allied Forces may have failed in the setting of “A Bridge Too Far”, their challenge on that front contributed eventually to the full liberation of Holland in May 1945.
Our country is now under a new regime, that of our “1Malaysia, People First, Performance Now” Prime Minister. Will the new FT Minister and Mayor of KL realize that too many have suffered from inappropriate and unsafe hillside and hill slope developments? Will they act now in obedience to the former PM and our new PM who had both called for a ban on hillside development?
The people are watching and waiting.
JAC for Bukit Gasing.
Please accept my apologies if for some reason, you did not get my notice of postponement of the 8th April hearing to this afternoon. However, we are now faced with a 3rd postponement.
Our solicitors just call to inform me that the High Court call this morning to postpone this afternoon’s hearing. Mdm Lau has postpone the hearing as she needed more time to prepare for the decision.
The hearing is postponed to Monday 13th April at 2:30pm.
I understand the frustration that we all would feel. However, we should continue to pray and keep faith that what we are demanding is right.
Please assist with communicating this further postponement to any friends you know that may have an interest in attending the hearing for this afternoon to advice them of the change.
Many thanks and regards,
At about noon yesterday (Monday, 6th April 2009), JAC for Bukit Gasing’s solicitors received a fax from the High Court postponing the Judicial Review “decision” hearing for Wednesday, 8th April 2009. The High Court provided Friday, 10th April 2009 at 2:45pm as the new time of hearing.
We appeal to all following our case not to be put off by the further delay. In pursuit for Justice, we need to remain patient. This further delay provides the opportunity for supporters of Save Bukit Gasing to make arrangements to show their support at the High Court on Friday, 10th April 2009, 2:45pm.
Come to the High Court and stand with us to show your disgust at DBKL’s lack of regard for residents’ fears for safety and concern for sustainable development in KL?
JAC for Bukit Gasing
On the 17th March, 2008, an ex-parte leave for Judicial Review application by 108 residents affected by proposed development at Bukit Gasing (KL side) was granted. Application for Judicial Review was to quash DBKL’s decision not to grant a public hearing on the proposed development on steep hill slopes of Bukit Gasing. Bukit Gasing (both PJ and KL sides) have had a history of unstable geology. Residents in the area are fearful of safety for both their lives and properties. The existence of a 23 million litre reservoir right next to the proposed development was given scant attention by DBKL.
Twelve visits to the High Court at KL, covered interim stop order on DBKL for approval of hoarding by the developer, Gasing Meridian Sdn. Bhd. (GMSB) and inter-parte hearings between applicants, DBKL and GMSB took a year. High Court was supposed to deliver its decision on leave to proceed with the Judicial Review on 20th February 2009. However, a last minute rescheduling was made by the High Court. Decision day is now for Friday, 10th April at KL High Court Complex (Rayuan & Kuasa-Kuasa Khas -RKK 1, Level 3), commencing 2:45pm (Updated)
In the course of the hearings, we found that despite many assurances by DBKL that residents’ fears and request for information would be addressed, DBKL had not complied with planning regulations. Sub-division of land approval presented as an administrative approval, laid the basis for development orders to erect hoardings and earthworks. Even the Deputy FT Minister, was deceived by DBKL planning department. See => https://savebukitgasing.wordpress.com/2008/04/
Despite the Bukit Antarabangsa disaster and directive from the PM and DPM, DBKL continues to avoid coming clean in conceding that development by GMSB on Bukit Gasing is untenable. Almost 50% of hill slopes on proposed development are on greater than 25 degrees gradient, with Bukit Gasing known for having landslides. The most significant and recent was at Taman Hutan Pendidikan (PJ Bukit Gasing forest reserve) in April 2008. DBKL failed to comply with the Federal Town and Country Planning Department’s “Total Planning Guidelines” 1997 (2nd edition, 2001) in approving GMSB’s development – Sanctuary Ridge.
Under the Draft KL City Plan, DBKL plans to reduce the Bukit Gasing green areas under its control by 52%. DBKL actions so far makes a mockery of the National Physical Plan. We can only hope that the High Court will proceed with a Judicial Review of DBKL’s action and that good governance and proper compliance with the country’s planning regulations will apply to DBKL. Let Kuala Lumpur cease to be a third world city hall.
Please do come to support “D Day” at the High Court on Friday, 10th April at KL High Court Complex (Rayuan & Kuasa-Kuasa Khas -RKK 1, Level 3), commencing 2:45pm (Updated)
Some links worth reading:
Gary Yeoh- JAC for Bukit Gasing.