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BY MAYURI MEI LIN
PETALING JAYA, March 15 — A Bukit Gasing property developer insists that it is entirely within their rights to claim damages from a group of residents who sought a judicial review over a residential development.
Gasing Meridian Sdn Bhd (GMSB) said that it was the judiciary’s decision to award them damages and that as respondents in the lawsuit, they were merely following the letter of the law.
“The courts found that we were entitled to damages. The judicial system is in place for order and justice. It is for the residents to take this matter before the court if they claim that the courts’ decision serves otherwise,” GMSB marketing director Leo Tan told Malay Mail Online in an interview earlier this month.
“Our representative stood up in court, in open court, and said, ‘We reserve the right to damages.’ And they didn’t object to that. So okay, if you don’t object, then we proceed along those lines,” he said, referring to the 103 Bukit Gasing residents who initiated the lawsuit.
Residents in the area have condemned the decision to award the developer damages, saying that this will stifle their freedom of speech and discourage others from having their opinions heard through public forums.
Civil liberties lawyer Syahredzan Johan and Bukit Gasing assemblyman Rajiv Rishyakaran echoed the same sentiment that the residents should not be financially penalised.
The Bukit Gasing residents’ challenge against the developer dates back to 2008, when the group filed for a judicial review to compel the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to hold a public hearing over its decision to grant a development order to Gasing Meridian for a hillside project in 2007.
They claimed DBKL did not provide adequate notice of the development or hold the required public hearings before it granted the order.
The application was rejected by the High Court and was appealed all the way to the Federal Court in 2013, where it was also ultimately dismissed.
The apex court added a twist to the case when the judges deemed it fit to award RM10,000 in costs to both DBKL and Gasing Meridian as well as undetermined damages to the latter, which it sent back for the High Court to decide.
Following another round of appeals against the order for damages, the matter is now back before the Federal Court once more.
Tan said he was unsure about the amount GMSB will claim from the group of residents as that was a decision for the judges.
“I don’t know, it’s for the courts to decide. We have submitted figures to do with our costs, various other items,” he said.
Tan also defended GSMB’s joining the case as a second respondent citing their right to defend themselves, as they were commercially invested in the case.
“What I understand of the case is when the residents took up the case against DBKL, they asked DBKL to stop proceedings on only one project – our project.
“So essentially, it’s almost akin to having an injunction on us as an individual entity. So we had to intervene. As our legal advisor said, ‘It’s about you and if you don’t intervene then you lose all right to say anything,’” Tan said.
GMSB is the developer behind Sanctuary Ridge, a property development in Bukit Gasing with 70 luxury bungalow lots for sale with prices starting in the millions….
Court of Appeal, Putrajaya on Wednesday, 11th November 2009
The appeals filed by DBKL and developer (Gasing Meridian Sdn Bhd) against High Court Judge Madam Lau Bee Lan’s decision on 24th April, 2009 to : i) allow extension o f time for judicial review application; and, ii) grant of leave on judicial review to quash the development ordered issued by DBKL for sub-division of land dated 2nd October 2007, commenced this morning.
It took a greater part of 5 hours for the lawyers to present their arguments today. The lawyers respresenting DBKL and the developer took about 4 hours to expound how the Honourable Judge Madam Lau Bee Lan had erred in making her decisions on 24th April 2009. Mostly, they covered the same grounds as they had done in the 13 months of hearing before.
JAC for Bukit Gasing lawyers , YB Sivarasa Rasiah (supported by Mr. Derek Fernandez on a pro-bono basis) represented robust arguments that the Honourable Judge Madam Lau Bee Lan decisions as in her written judgements presented to Court of Appeal last week (2nd November 2009) should be upheld and pointed out the substantive reasons for her conclusions.
The Appeal Court Judges (3 judges presided) will announce their decision on Friday, 20th November 2009 at 10am.
This is just an interim report to keep readers informed. I hope to have a more detailed report posted in the next couple of days. Please do come back to check for more information that will be posted in coming days.
JAC for Bukit Gasing.
Almost six months ago, on 17th March 2008, the High Court granted leave for a Judicial Review against DBKL’s decision to not holding a Public Hearing on proposed development by Gasing Meridian Sdn. Bhd.(GMSB) on Bukit Gasing – KL Side. The 108 applicants for the Judicial Review were also granted an interim stop order requiring DBKL not to issue an development order to GMSB.
We have had to put up with late affidavits being submitted, hoarding approval issued by DBKL suddenly being acted on and claims of ‘limitation of time’ arguments. It resulted in six hearings (excluding one that could not proceed because of heavy court scheduling), that were duels between lawyers whilst we watch in amazement and wondered when justice can be heard.
At last, the time is near for progress to be made. On Tuesday, 9th September 2008, commencing 2:30pm, our Judicial Review hearing and interim stop order against DBKL (GMSB is now 2nd Respondent) will be heard again. We are expecting that after months of legal manoevres by DBKL and GMSB, the High Court will now be able to hear some proper arguments. Whilst the Judicial Review arguments will probably continue for some time, we hope some clarity on the right of DBKL to presume itself to be above the law will be ruled by the court.
108 residents of Bukit Gasing had to find the courage and resources to commence action against DBKL. This blog is our voice to all of our fight and many others. Hillslope development and in particular, steep hillslope development endangers lives. Time and time again, we see the destruction of our hills and green areas causing turmoil to many. The reckless, arrogant, and many may add corrupt, inflict needless pain to many. We have all read, felt and tasted them.
This fight is not against developers. It’s against irresponsible local authorities that have not balanced the need for development against the good of many, now and in the future. They are the ones we must bring to heel and require transparency and accountability.
This September could be the continuation of ‘Spring for Malaysia’, started by GE12. A time for regeneration of our hopes and aspirations of justice, transparency and good governance. Do join us if you can at the hearing. This legal battle will continue for sometime and if you wish to contribute to this cause financially please contact us for more information by commenting, [or click this link for information on how to contribute].
JAC for Bukit Gasing.