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Residents continue to fight against a project to build 68 bungalows on Bukit Gasing. — File pictures

Reshmonu has a surprise in store for guests at the Bukit Gasing fundraiser.

 

2010/03/24 – NST – Streets
PETALING JAYA: “Expect the unexpected!’ is Reshmonu’s advice to guests of the “Help Save Bukit Gasing” fundraising dinner on April 10.

The singer-songwriter has, in the past, performed funk-soul, ballads, pop, Latin, African and Malay-inspired music all over the country. But this time he will be performing at the community hall in his own Section 5 neighbourhood, with some friends and sessionists.

“It’s not a big hall but it’s a big cause,” he said.

“It’s never been about the audience capacity. It’s an opportunity to get up there and sing, which I love. To sing for a cause is even better.”

Reshmonu moved into the Bukit Gasing area four years ago. From his apartment, he can see the forest, “the last green lung in Petaling Jaya”, and feel a fresh breeze.

But it was only over the past year that he became aware of the residents’ court battle against a project to build 68 bungalows on the hill that has gradients of up to 70 degrees, approved by Kuala Lumpur City Hall.

On March 19, the Federal Court dismissed a leave application by City Hall and Gasing Meridian Sdn Bhd to appeal a Court of Appeal decision last year. Now the trial will begin in the High Court.

“I’ve seen the way the whole Gasing community has got together and taken this issue to such a high level,” said the 34-year-old, who is working on a new album of vocal house music to be released mid- year.

“They’ve always been apprehensive about knocking on my door.”

But when he was asked to perform at the dinner, “I felt the time was right to help get some funds in and keep this green lung as intact as possible.”

Reshmonu stressed that he was not against development, “but it should be done properly and in the proper places. You can’t put up luxury bungalows on the hill and face the consequences later.”

“You must be 300 per cent sure the soil can take the development and, from what I’ve heard, it can’t. There is soil erosion on that hill and it’s not safe.”

The Federal Court ordered City Hall and the developer each to pay RM20,000 as costs.

The dinner, for which invitation is by donation, is not only to raise funds for the campaign to save Bukit Gasing but also to cover legal expenses, said Gary Yeoh, chairman of Maxwell Towers Owners Association.

“It is an opportunity to support the fight to stop further building on Bukit Gasing and also for communities similarly affected to show solidarity. We are not celebrating until the hill and our lives are safe,” said Yeoh.

Some of the residents will also be performing and committee member Mohamed Kamar Mohamed is planning a Dutch auction.

For details, call Gary Yeoh at 019-480 8732 or Mohamed Kamar Mohamed at 012-291 9564.

http://streets.nst.com.my/Thursday/Stories/20100324234944/Article

By M. MAGESWARI
mages@thestar.com.my

PUTRAJAYA: Some 108 residents of Bukit Gasing can now proceed to challenge a development order for a hillslope project in the area at the High Court.

The Federal Court has refused to grant leave to the Kuala Lumpur City Hall and the project’s developer Gasing Meridian Sdn Bhd (GMSB) to appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision against them.

On Nov 20, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal by the two parties against an earlier High Court decision which granted leave to the residents to seek a judicial review to quash the mayor’s development order.

Yesterday, Chief Justice Tun Zaki Tun Azmi, who sat together with Federal Court judges Justices James Foong and Md Raus Sharif, ruled that the full merits of the case should be heard first at the High Court.

The Bench also ordered KL City Hall and GMSB to pay RM20,000 in costs to each of the residents.

R. Sivarasa, who acted for the residents, said issues to be heard would be whether residents in Kuala Lumpur had the right to be heard when a development project took place near their houses.

“This case is of public importance and raises important questions of planning policies of City Hall,” he said when contacted yesterday.

Sivarasa said the residents contended that they had the right to be heard under the Town and Country Planning Act 1976 which was now in force in Kuala Lumpur.

“The residents claimed that the City Hall’s development is violating the existing Federal guidelines on hillslope development which disallow housing development on slopes of more than 25 degrees,” he added.

Then Kuala Lumpur mayor Ruslin Hassan had issued an order dated Oct 2, 2007 to GMSB allowing the developer to carry out earthworks and subdivisions in the area.

In their application for judicial review filed on January 2008, the residents named City Hall and GMSB as defendants.

The residents claimed that the mayor had failed to take into account that they had a right under common law to be given due notice, and be given a chance to voice their opinions in the decision-making process of planning.

In a statement last year, GMSB 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 had representatives of 13 agencies

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2010/3/20/courts/5899031&sec=courts

2010/03/20 Streets – NST Online

PUTRAJAYA: Bukit Gasing residents have a reason to rejoice.

The merit of their application to object Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s decision to approve a development project will be heard by the High Court.

The Federal Court yesterday unanimously dismissed a leave application by Kuala Lumpur City Hall and a developer to appeal against a Court of Appeal decision last year.

Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi said the legal questions framed by the applicants were not novel and of public advantage.

Zaki, who sat with Datuk Seri James Foong and Datuk Md Raus Sharif, also ordered City Hall and Gasing Meridian Sdn Bhd to pay the residents RM20,000 each in costs.

In January 2008, 108 residents filed a leave application for judicial review to quash the development order by the Datuk Bandar pertaining to the hillslope development project.

The Datuk Bandar, in an order dated Oct 2, 2007, issued to Gasing Meridian, allowed the developer to carry out earth works and sub-divisions in the area.

The developer is involved in the Sanctuary Ridge Kuala Lumpur City project to build 68 bungalows on a 15.5ha site in Bukit Gasing.

In their application for leave (in the High Court) the residents, represented by Sivarasa Rasiah and Derek Fernandez, claimed that the Datuk Bandar had failed to take into account that they had a right to be given due notice.

The residents added that as rate-payers they must be given a chance to voice their opinions in the decision-making process of planning.

They said that the Datuk Bandar had acted contrary to the policy and intent of the Federal Territory (Planning) Act 1982.

The High Court granted the residents leave for judicial review in April last year.

The Court of Appeal in November last year, in a majority ruling, dismissed the appeal by the Datuk Bandar and the developer.

Bukit Gasing joint-action committee member Victor Oorjitham said the court would now have an opportunity to hear the substantive application on why the residents objected to the project.

“We have battled in and out of court for more than two years. We now look forward to the hearing in the High Court,” he said. — By V. Anbalagan

http://streets.nst.com.my/Current_News/Streets/Saturday/Stories/20100320004146/Article/index_html

19th March 2010 – Federal Court rejects leave for appeal by DBKL and Gasing Meridian Sdn. Bhd.

The Federal Court announced its decision of rejecting leave for appeal by DBKL and Gasing Meridian Sdn. Bhd (GMSB) this morning. Chief Justice Tun Dato’ Seri Zaki bin Tun Azmi expressed the court’s view that the appeal was unnecessary and granted costs of RM20,000 each to be paid by the appellants (DBKL and GMSB). The court viewed that it is time to impose higher costs to deter unnecessary appeals.  The other two judges on the panel were Dato’ Md. Raus bin Sharif and Dato’ James Foong Cheng Yuen

As residents and applicants for Judicial Review of DBKL’s decision to deny us a public hearing on GMSB’s proposed development on the remaining substantive green area on Bukit Gasing (KL-side), we are relieved that finally the High Court can proceed with a fully Judicial Review hearing.  Since our filing of Judicial Review application in February 2008 we discovered (through the inter-parte leave hearings at the High Court) that DBKL had granted development orders for sub-division of land, erection of hoardings and earthworks. We have questions on compliance to regulation by DBKL in granting such development orders.

It has been a long two years wait for Judicial Review to commence. It is time that DBKL actions in dismissing concerns on landslide risks to residents and existing properties be reviewed. The way DBKL approves development on unstable steep hill slopes can now be reviewed for compliance to regulations.

In the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2020, DBKL declares its desire for partnership with the public as part of its support for Local Agenda 21 principal and philosophy.  Amongst the many emphasis on responsible development and management of environment is one on,  “The natural features of parts of Bukit Gasing shall be protected and developed as parks for recreational purposes.”. It is time for DBKL to be examined on whether they are playing lip serve to the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2020 and really supports sustainable development.

The residents will stand resolute in the fight for transparency and justice. Support us in our fight.

Gary Yeoh – JAC for Bukit Gasing.

It has been some while the last updated on the Save Bukit Gasing Judicial Review court proceedings. Frankly, it has been hard not to give in to despair at the extend the protagonists against transparency and justice will go to prevent our reasons for opposing DBKL’s approval of the GMSB development proposal on Bukit Gasing (KL side) from being heard.

Before providing updates, a brief recap of our journey in seeking transparency and justice maybe helpful.

Back in 2005, word abound that Gasing Meridian Sdn. Bhd. (GMSB) had submitted new proposals for developing the 15.5 hectares (approx. 38 acres) on steep hill slopes of Bukit Gasing (KL Side). Almost 50% of the hill slopes are above 25 degrees gradient. Before this submission, GMSB had submitted a fairly extensive development proposal in 1995 and lost its court action to have DBKL acquire its land after DBKL’s approval for an amended 1995 development proposal, subject to a 2 stage approval condition. DBKL had held public hearing on the 1995 development proposal.

Since 2005, various concerned individuals and organizations had made presentations and appeals to FT Ministry and DBKL on risks to lives and damage to environment. Various senior officials (FT and DBKL) appeared to be sensitive to our concerns, with some actually supportive of not allowing development. Despite all the appeals, it became clear in 2006 that sustained pressure must continue to have our fears addressed properly and the Joint Action Committee for Bukit Gasing (JACBG) was formed, with support from local residents’ association leaders and concern citizens.

JACBC had communicates and met both DBKL and FT Ministry officials to highlight our fears that the development on Bukit Gasing will be disastrous to safety of lives and property. These fears have been amply proven by landslide disasters across Klang Valley such as Highland Towers, numerous deadly landslides in Ulu Klang areas subsequently, major landslide at Bukit Antarabangsa in Dec 2008 and many more that has been recorded in this blog.

Despite our efforts with DBKL and their apparent willingness for dialogue, on the last day of 2007, letters were delivered to residents in the Gasing Condos (Fraser, Cameron and Maxwell Towers) and Gasing Indah, that DBKL will not conduct a public hearing on our concerns toward GMSB’s proposed development. It was fortuitous that Mr. Derek Fernandez (currently an MBPJ councillor amongst being champion for transparency on development approvals) was able to smell a rat and JACBG helped to organize a group of 108 residents to file for a Judicial Review on DBKL’s decision to deny a public hearing on the development on 11th February 2008.

The “rat” that was feared was DBKL’s attempts to facilitate development order to GMSB by being economical with the truth and procedural manoeuvres. After many inter-parte leave for Judicial Review hearings at the High Court, leave for Judicial Review was granted on 24th April, 2009. DBKL and GMSB filed an appeal against High Court grant of leave of to the Court of Appeal. Having lost there (Court of Appeal agreed with the High Court on 20th November 2009), they appealed to the Federal Court. So, the “rat” is amply proven.

So, let me move on to a brief update on Federal Court hearing on 10th March 2010.

There were 3 Federal Court Judges (Chief Justice Tun Dato’ Seri Zaki bin Tun Azmi (lead Judge), Dato’ Md. Raus bin Sharif and Dato’ James Foong Cheng Yuen)on the panel for the leave to appeal hearing.

Counsel for DBKL, Mr Romesh Abraham made the case for appeal on locus standi of the High Court to hear the Judicial Review, in particular with respect to “Rule 5” of the Federal Territory (Planning) Act, 1982 as amended by Planning (Development) (Amendment) Rules 1994. There were numerous other similar lines of argument. He was interrupted on a number of occasions by the lead Judge, Chief Justice Tun Dato’ Seri Zaki bin Tun Azmi (CJ) with questions less than favourable to his line of argument.

The CJ commented that the appeal seem to be premature and was inclined to reject the leave for appeal. Specifically, he felt there seem to be arguable points and Judicial Reviews were the avenue the public should be able to use in this case. However, Mr Romesh insisted and continued with his arguments. Further arguments along similar lines were presented by Dato RR Sethu, counsel representing GMSB.

Mr Sivarasa Rasiah, counsel for Bukit Gasing argued that there were indeed reasonable justification for leave to be granted by the High Court, focusing on issues of steep hill slope development fears and the Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Act 2001 (Act 1129). These and others were considered by the High Court and Court of Appeal in granting leave for Judicial Review.

Two of the three Judges were inclined not to grant leave for the appeal. However, one judge appeared to be considering the merits of the appellants (DBKL & GMSB). After a brief discussion between the Judges, the hearing was adjourned with the setting of Friday, 19th March as date that the Federal Court will present its decision on grant of leave for the appeal.

Note: “Rule 5” is the amendment made by DBKL mayor to the FT Planning Act (1982) in 1994 to enable DBKL to justify that requirement for public hearing will apply when there is an increase in density or change of use. The amendment was made after DBKL lost the case between of Datin Azizah v. Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur[1992] for DBKL’s failure to notify and hear objections from residents before granting development order for a development. FT Planning Act (1982) had included “material consideration” by the Mayor in considering planning applications before the “1994 Rules” amendment.

Significantly, DBKL rejects Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Act 2001 (Act 1129) as applicable to them despite the fact that this amendment was to apply to Federal Territories. It is shocking how DBKL persists in claiming non accountability to the people is purports to serve.

The protagonists against transparency and justice are continuing to deny us the right to Judicial Review despite leave granted by High Court and agreed by Court of Appeal. JACBG is appealing to all interested in transparency and justice for support to the fight. The tactics used has significant increase our legal costs and we appeal to readers and friends to contribute to the Save Bukit Gasing Trust Fund. Click “How you can help us..”

JACBG is organizing a charity dinner on 10th April 2010 at the community hall in Gasing Indah/Petaling Gardens. We would be grateful for your support. Please visit again shortly to see more details on the event.

Gary Yeoh
JAC for Bukit Gasing

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”-Martin Luther King Jr.

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