2010/09/16 – NST

AS a resident of Maxwell Towers, I would like to respond to the disingenuous letter from Zhang C.G. on Sept 14. Our judicial review was on our right to a public hearing before City Hall can issue development orders to Gasing Meridian Sdn Bhd, and whether approvals issued were consistent with development guidelines.

It is incredible that deaths resulting from the Highland Towers (1993), Hillview (2002), Kampung Pasir (2006) and Bukit Antarabangsa (2008) tragedies could be written off as “the few unfortunate landslides”. To compare our fears for our lives and homes to a demand to close highways is just ridiculous.

Mainstream media have reported 141 deaths resulting from landslides caused by development from 1993 to 2008 in Peninsular Malaysia. Were these testaments of the safety our hillslope developments and the local authority’s diligence in ensuring safe and sustainable development?
Comparing the safety of hillslope developments in Hong Kong to what prevails in Malaysia is laughable. Hong Kong has a government-funded Geotechnical Engineering Organization (GEO) dedicated to hillslope development safety. Hong Kong created GEO in 1977 to identify unstable hillslopes, repair them and ensure that high standards are kept on hillslope developments.

We have DBKL approving the Damasara 21 development at Medan Damansara that resulted in the collapse of a retaining wall, causing significant damage to two homes in August 2008. We have hillslope developments designed by developer-funded consultants, building contractors whose reputations are suspect, and woeful monitoring of their construction by agencies.

Datuk Prof Dr Ibrahim Komoo had said on NTV7 in Nov 2006: “If there were to be any building (reference to the proposed site), it is likely to cause a tragedy”.
The landslides at Bukit Gasing at the Siva and Sri Maha Kaliaman temples in 2007 and March 2010, respectively, showed the wisdom of his comment.

In addition, independent studies by the Department of Geology, University of Malaya and Geological Survey Malaysia had highlighted that the natural constitution of Bukit Gasing is not suitable for any sort of building development.

We are not a bunch of crazed lobbyists fighting for green lung preservation, nor are we denying landowners their rights.
We seek only for DBKL to recognize our right to be heard and for DBKL to provide information on how the proposed development on Bukit Gasing is safe and sustainable as provided under the Town & Country Planning Act 172 (TCPA) and approved in accordance with guidelines for hillslope developments. The TCPA (amendment) Act 2001 (Act 1129) sought to bring consistency to town and country planning in Peninsular Malaysia.

It also implements the role of the National Physical Planning Council (chaired by the prime minister) in ensuring that the national policy for sustainable development and town and country planning matters is followed.

Developers and landowners’ rights cannot rest solely on their rights to profits. The public’s right to safe developments on hillslopes and the development’s impact on the natural/living environment are equally important.

If these were not so, why bother with having planning authorities?

GARY YEOHBukit Gasing resident

Read more: Public’s right to safe development also important http://www.nst.com.my/nst/articles/gostg/Article#ixzz0zs1Ialic