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Updated: Monday March 30, 2015 MYT 7:25:53 AM
Keeping nature at bay: Slope-strengthening works being carried out at a construction site in Bukit Gasing. — filepic
BUKIT GASING residents are questioning several proposed housing projects in the area from a safety point as well as issues such as access and sewerage links to the main channels.
One of the main reasons for the worry is that huge landslides had occurred in the area over the past few years.
It is also learned that the Petaling Jaya City Council’s (MBPJ) One-Stop Centre Committee had rejected one or two of the projects due to not conforming to the law and planning requirements.
Aside from the steep slopes involved in the proposed developments, former city councillor Derek Fernandez agreed that they were in an area of Bukit Gasing which had already seen landslides.
“Despite the building approvals and professionals involved, some of the landslides have already cost the ratepayer millions of ringgit to repair, and millions more required for slope protection measures,” Fernandez stated.
Safety was also on the mind of Gasing Indah Residents Association chairman Alfred Chuah.
“When we look at the slope, we are not entirely convinced it will be safe despite technical assurances, as some the slopes are very steep and landslides have already occurred in the area,” said Chuah.
Section 5 Residents Association chairman Mohamed Rafiq Fazal Din recalled at least four, one in the Bukit Gasing Sivan temple, two on the hill’s hiking trail, and a minor case recently in the new council carpark.
For residents living in Gasing Indah, the issue of access is also an issue, as Chuah said that currently Jalan 5/69 and other residential roads in the housing area were used as access for nearby condominiums.
The same road would have been further used as another entry by one of the proposed projects as Jalan 5/69 was not meant to serve an additional 19 houses that were not originally planned for, added Fernandez.
The issue of land title validity was also raised by Fernandez, who recalled a meeting in the mid-90s where he and other Bukit Gasing residents had objected to a different developer’s proposal for the same land.
“At the public hearing chaired by then-municipal council president Datuk Mohd Nor Bador, resident leader Syed Jalal Abdullah had stated they were improperly issued, and the proposal was not approved,” he said.
The briefing for the three proposed developments, and the presentation for a geotechnical study on Bukit Gasing, was originally set for March 24, but pushed to tomorrow.
“We were not told of the meeting until a resident, a former councillor, informed us at the last minute,” said Chuah.
March 29, 2015
When I was a councillor , I remember the OSC previously rejected these projects mainly as they at that time did not comply with the law and planning requirements. Apart from the steep slopes involved, these projects are in an area of Bukit Gasing with huge landslides. Some despite building approvals and professionals involved which has already cost the ratepayer millions of Ringgit to repair with millions more required for slope protection measures.
In one of the projects the proposed use of Jalan 5/69 as access to this proposed development is unacceptable as the road was not meant to serve an additional 19 units that were never in the original layout plan for the area. Worse still the poor residents have been burdened by Cameron Tower using these small internal roads as an access when this was supposed only to be a temporary measure with the correct access coming through Fraser tower.
Furthermore any gated development involving the development of more than one lot must provide public amenities outside the development but none has been proposed to be provided.
We also previously were of the view that the area is a high risk hillside area with schools and houses below and that the risk is unacceptable with no long term proposal for maintenance of slope infrastructure being proposed. The risk of floods and surface run off is high.
Next there is an issue as to the validity of the titles to the land as issued previously under the old administration. Many years ago around 1994 to 1995, PJ residents had objected to another development on the same land by a different developer on the grounds the titles were unlawfully issued. At the public hearing chaired by the then YDP of MPPJ Datuk Mat Noor Badoor, a resident leader Tuan Syed Jalal Abdullah had stated the titles were improperly issued and the meeting after being shown why, said they will not approve the project. That was a long time ago and I expect that the residents now will also raise similar issues if its the same land.
In my opinion, PJ residents are sick and tired of their small internal roads being used as access for someone else project when that project was never part of the earlier approved layout for the area. This is happening all over PJ to cater for other peoples profits at the expense of existing residents and their families. I trust the Government will study all these matters properly before arriving at any decision as this involves serious matters of public safety and residents peace of mind, and enjoyment of their property.
BY MAYURI MEI LINLIN
KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 — A developer is pursuing a group of Bukit Gasing residents over a judicial review they sought over its project, claiming damages in an extraordinary move observers fear will intimidate private citizens from objecting against government agencies.
Although Gasing Meridian Sdn Bhd is now free to conduct its development after defeating the judicial review filed against it and the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), it is adamant on claiming damages from the 103 residents who sought to block the hillside project in their neighbourhood here.
According to civil liberties lawyer Syahredzan Johan, the developer’s claim will set a precedent that will make it onerous for private individuals who turn to the courts after exhausting other official avenues to challenge public decisions.
“I am personally very concerned if the developer is allowed to claim damages against the residents from the judicial review application.
“This is a matter within the realm of public interest and the fear is that if the developer succeeds in its application this would discourage concerned citizens from seeking redress with the courts in the future,” he told Malay Mail Online.
The Bukit Gasing residents’ challenge against the developer dates back to 2008, when the group filed for a judicial review to compel 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 a public hearing 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 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.
“Public hearing is an avenue for the public to actually have their concerns aired and for responses to be made to those concerns,” Bukit Gasing resident Ashok Menon told Malay Mail Online.
“By saying that you can end up having to pay damages for that, that’s like muscling up everyone. That’s what happens in a dictatorship,” Ashok said, adding that it was unclear why the developer was awarded damages.
Bukit Gasing assemblyman Rajiv Rishyakaran echoed both men’s concerns, adding that the dispute had been between the residents and DBKL, rather than business-related.
“I feel it’s not right. Just because a group of residents file a judicial review, a third party such as the developer should not be taking legal action to financially penalise the residents, who were bringing up a matter of public interest, and not commercial in nature.”
Not all are against the Federal Court’s decision to allow Gasing Meridian a claim to damages from the residents. Property lawyer Chris Tan explained that such a move would help to prevent the public from pursuing frivolous action against corporations.
He also disagreed that the particular case would set a precedent that would make it burdensome for private individuals with valid complaints to seek legal action against government entities.
“The precedent is not set to aim at the parties asking for public hearing for them to pay for damages, but to prevent the public from being against others without proper grounds, and facts of the case vary from each other,” he explained.
“Any successful party is entitled to damages… provided they can prove the same to the presiding judge. Therefore it is fair in that sense,” Tan said.
The Federal Court was initially scheduled to hear the residents’ appeal against the order for damages, but the case has since been postponed to June 29.
In 2008, 103 residents within Bukit Gasing area, in the interest of several thousand residents living in the proximity of Bukit Gasing (KL side), commenced a Judicial Review on the DBKL Mayor’s refusal to grant concerned residents a public hearing on the development of 68 luxury homes on Bukit Gasing- KL side. Gasing Meridian Sdn Bhd applied to join the case as a 2nd Respondent.
The primary reason for the filing of Judicial Review was the fear for loss of lives and damage to properties. The proposed development on Bukit Gasing (KL side) had several steep gradients and the composition of the soil is sand and shale. In the circumstances, the residents feared that the development if allowed, would cause landslides and end in a tragedy similar to the Highland Towers tragedy (1993). There have also been several other tragic landslides at developments on steep gradients resulting in the loss of lives and destruction of property. Bukit Antarabangsa (December 2008), Orphanage at Hulu Langat (May 2011), Bukit Setiawangsa (December 2012), Dang Wangi LRT (May 2013) and Cameron Highlands (November 2014) are just some tragic recent examples.
The Bukit Gasing case was filed in February 2008 and on 6th September 2010, the High Court, Kuala Lumpur gave judgement against our request for a public hearing and thus in favour of the developer permitting development on Bukit Gasing. This decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court. The High Court in May 2013 also allowed the Developer the right to file assessment for damages against the 103 residents. This decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeal. The case is now in the Federal Court, where a “Leave Application “is pending for the case to be heard by the Federal Court
The allowing of damages to be assessed against applicants in a Public Interest Judicial Review case, is unprecedented in Malaysia. It is even more questionable as the award is to Gasing Meridian that had joined the case as a 2nd Respondent. In fact in August 1996, a Judicial Review case was brought by an associated company of Gasing Meridian in their development in Bukit Gasing (Petaling Jaya side) for damages, was thrown out by the High Court, Shah Alam, Selangor.
The allowing of assessment of damages, in the present case, has severe consequences. It will prevent any citizen or civil society from filing a Public Interest case, for fear of having to pay damages if they should lose their case. This is of particular significance where Local Councils and developers throughout Malaysia are concerned. No one will dare to bring a Public Interest case against them. It is a denial of every Malaysian’s fundamental right to seek judicial review on actions by authorities that impact their fundamental rights.
Citizens have a fundamental right to seek a Public Interest Judicial Review at the Courts on actions taken by authorities that are questionable. Such a re-course must be maintained without the threat of damages that will significantly intrude on the rights of any citizen or body of citizens.
We seek your support to counter this threat to fundamental rights of all Malaysians. As a first step, you can support by signing the Petition.
On behalf of residents and supporters of the Judicial Review Case against DBKL’s refusal to grant a public hearing on development on steep hill slopes in Bukit Gasing
RESIDENTS in Cameron Towers, Bukit Gasing are living in fear of more landslips in the area in view of the rainy season.
The landslip that occurred on May 3 had shocked the residents, with subsequent landslips along Jalan 5/60 and Jalan 5/64 last week, adding to their fear.
Mary Lim, a housewife, said every time it rained, she kept a lookout on the hill, which is opposite her condominium.
“The hill is also very close to our swimming pool. What if there is a landslide when there are people using the pool?” asked the distraught resident.
Cameron Towers Joint Management Body treasurer Jim Khong expressed concern over the recent landslips in Bukit Gasing.
“We fear that if a landslide occurs on Bukit Gasing, it will affect residents in the area as there is a water reservoir on top of the hill,” he said.
Khong said the residents want the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) and Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to work together as the hill is situated on the border of Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur.
The building manager, Lee Lai, said they had written to MBPJ after the landslips and that an officer from the council’s infrastructure and engineering department had visited the site.
“He took photos of the landslip and said they would discuss the situation,” Lee said, adding that residents wanted immediate action to be taken to resolve the problem.
Representatives of Fraser Towers, Cameron Towers, Maxwell Towers, Gasing Indah, Petaling Gardens and Section 5 PJ got together to put forward a petition for endorsement by GE13 candidates for Bukit Gasing state and Petaling Jaya Selatan parlimentary seats.
Bukit Gasing candidates endorsing petition:
Mr Mak Khuin Weng (Ind)
Mr Simon Lee (Ind)
Mr. Rajiv Riskyakaran (DAP) see rajiv4malaysia.com for more of his thoughts
Petaling Jaya Selatan candidates endorsing petition:
Mr. Hee Loy Sian (PKR)
Mr. Sheah Kok Fah (BN-MCA)
By EDWARD R. HENRY
Monday February 25, 2013
PETALING Jaya City Council (MBPJ) has obtained a magistrate court order to demolish Sivan Temple in Bukit Gasing after a council report recommended it to be torn down as it posed an imminent danger to people’s lives and properties in the surrounding area.
Petaling Jaya mayor Datin Paduka Alinah Ahmad said the temple building was in danger of collapsing as further rains could weaken the soil strength.
A slope failure could trigger a major landslide that would see earth coming down on Jalan 5/60, close to Fraser Towers apartments.
“Landslides had occurred of late. Now, Sivan Temple is in imminent danger of collapse.
“MBPJ has to take immediate steps to eliminate the danger,” she said.
The mayor stressed that the court order was requested “in the best interests of the people, to protect the lives of devotees, people living at Fraser Towers and the students of SMK Taman Petaling that is located below the apartments.
“The council’s legal department has served the court order to the chairman of the interim temple committee, T. Maharathan, and solicitors of Datin Seri Indrani Samy Vellu.
“Both parties have been informed about the demolition exercise.
“We respect the religious sensitivity and have given full responsibility to the temple committee to handle the demolition exercise.
“But before it is done, MBPJ’s Buildings Department must be briefed on the methods of demolition to ensure no untoward incidents,” she said.
She added that the seriousness of the Sivan Temple issue was brought up at the Selangor Economic Action Council and at the state exco meeting on Feb 13.
The MBPJ engineering department had taken into account Maharathan’s proposal to demolish the temple based on safety concerns and had agreed to it.
Alinah said the council would assist and was willing to offer advice if required.
“We assure the committee and devotees that the land on Bukit Gasing remains for the Hindu temple.
“For the new temple, building plans must be submitted and our officers will facilitate the process,” she said.
On Feb 1, StarMetro highlighted that the concrete roof of the Sivan Temple had tilted and more cracks were visible.
Sculptures of huge deities, a cow and the ornate tower on the roof of the two-level building had tilted and Maharathan had said he was worried the temple would collapse in view of the rainy spell.
After several landslips along Jalan 5/60, Alinah visited the area early this month and instituted immediate measures such as earthworks to strengthen the slopes in two areas where tarpaulin sheets were used to cover the bare terrain.
U-shaped box drains had also been constructed, costing about RM1mil.
Alinah said the council’s engineering department had suggested nail soiling as a long-term measure, along with building a network of slope drains that would cost MBPJ RM3.2mil.
MUDDY: Silt from the hillslope flows onto Jalan 5/60, near Frasers Towers in Bukit Gasing, after more rain yesterday. Four landslips had been reported in the area last week
THE slopes of Bukit Gasing need to be assessed using a methodical approach, according to geotechnical engineer Gue See-Sew.
Gue, who is also the chairman of the Expert Standing Committee on Slope Safety established by the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) recently, said they were looking into institutionalising solutions for landslides in Malaysia.
“We have to explore the design, construction and supervision as well as maintenance of slopes,” he said. “We must focus on these issues and find solutions to mitigate them with a systematic way of tackling them.”
Gue said although the new guidelines for slopes were sufficient, hazard and risk analysis needed to be carried out on old slopes.
“If it is a high risk area, local authorities have to issue orders to investigate and strengthen the slopes there,” he said.
SlopeWatch programme director Eriko Motoyama said they had been receiving reports from Bukit Gasing residents regarding landslides for a year but they still needed to look at various aspects before getting involved.
SlopeWatch would then assist residents in ensuring their concerns were heard by the authorities.
Bukit Gasing, which falls within the custody of both Petaling Jaya Municipal Council and Kuala Lumpur City Hall, experienced a number of landslips on Friday and over the weekend.
Petaling Jaya councillor Derek Fernandez said this was the second occurrence of landslides there in the past month and cautioned that nature would not wait for tenders and processes.
Yesterday, The Malay Mail reported that Maxwell Towers residents’ association and joint action committee for Bukit Gasing member Gary Yeoh had also pointed out a collapsed wall in a nearby sewage treatment plant aside from the landslides previously reported.
The sewage treatment company said they would investigate the cause for the collapsed wall.
There are two other condominium towers on Bukit Gasing other than Maxwell Towers. They are Frasers Towers and Cameron Towers
Posted on 6 December 2012 – 05:28am
PETALING JAYA (Dec 6, 2012): Bukit Gasing residents have again urged the local authority not to approve development on the hill slope following the discovery of two more sites of soil erosion and landslip in the area three days ago.
Bukit Gasing Joint Action Committee member Gary Yeoh told theSun earlier this week the residents were concerned that development on the fragile slope would pose a danger to them.
“We want the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) to conduct engineering and environmental studies to determine the causes of the soil erosion,” he said.
“The MBPJ should also not approve the proposal to build 18 bungalows in the area,” he added.
However, he commended the MBPJ on its effort to consult with the residents on development plans.
Last Friday, residents detected four landslip sites along Jalan 5/60 and similar erosion was seen near an abandoned bungalow plot at Jalan 5/64.
Petaling Jaya councillor Derek Fernandez had reportedly said he would propose that the council impose a stricter process for hillside development, including the need for a mandatory independent audit by geo-technical engineers, as well as the mandatory appointment of specialist contractors with proven hillside construction experience.
When contacted, Fernandez said some 50 residents attended the first consultation at MBPJ last week on a proposal to build 18 bungalow lots near Taman Petaling (Girls) Secondary School within the Bukit Gasing area.
He said the residents would meet again within two weeks after receiving the geotech documents from the developer.
Checks by theSun revealed soil erosion behind a shrine at the Sri Maha Sivabatrakaliamman temple at Jalan 5/64 and a fresh landslip with a “sold” sign near Fraser Towers at Jalan 5/60 which was not covered with tarpaulin.
In addition, there were no signs to warn the public of the hill slope debris on the road.