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.

Gary Yeoh
JAC for Bukit Gasing