Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Glomac Damansara: Was There Consultation?

Here's a perfect example of why our current local government system is completely screwed up. Let me put it forward very briefly as follows:
  • Developer for Glomac Damansara (check out the density for yourself) for Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) puts up the Development Proposal Notice at the site at the end of 2007. 

  • Interestingly enough, within a few days, the Notice Board gets hidden by opaque fences put up around the development site.

  • SS20 Rukun Tetangga chairperson spotted the notice and quickly submitted a letter to DBKL to object to the project, or at least to have it reviewed before the deadline allowed.

  • However, there was absolute silence from DBKL. I found out about the project sometime in Jun this year after being elected MP for Petaling Jaya Utara, which covers SS20. I spoke to my colleague, the MP for Segambut (which covers TTDI), Lim Lip Eng to follow up with DBKL and check on the status.

  • The project is now at a full-steam ahead pace. The response from DBKL was, SS20 was in Petaling Jaya which is not under its jurisdiction, and hence have no legal basis to submit complaints, despite being directly opposite the old Jalan Damansara road which forms the boundary between KL and PJ.
Ridiculous right? Wait til you hear what the Deputy Minister of Federal Territories say in parliament in response to my query (or see Hansard pg 52).
Sebenarnya kawasan saya bukannya di dalam kawasan Wilayah Persekutuan tetapi di sebelah kawasan Segambut, PJ Utara. Saya ingin menimbulkan satu perkara, satu isu yang telah terjadi di kawasan Taman Tun iaitu di kawasan Segambut yang bersempadan dengan kawasan SS20 di kawasan PJ Utara. Ada satu projek yang baru yang tengah dibangunkan di kawasan Taman Tun ini yang bernama Glomac Damansara dan ianya telah diluluskan saya agak pada akhir tahun lalu dan satu papan cadangan telah dinaikkan pada bulan November atau Disember tahun lalu.

Penduduk di sebelah jalan iaitu di SS20 kawasan saya telah pun menulis kepada pihak DBKL untuk membantah ataupun meminta supaya satu dialog ataupun satu penjelasan diadakan sebelum projek ini diteruskan dan dibina di kawasan Taman Tun. Akan tetapi pendedahan yang telah dimasukkan ke dalam DBKL ini langsung tidak diambil kira sebelum projek ini diberikan kelulusan dan projek ini buat masa ini telah pun berjalan.

Apabila saya menimbulkan perkara ini bersama dengan rakan saya dari Segambut ke pihak DBKL, pihak DBKL menjawab oleh kerana pihak pembantah adalah bukan daripada dalam Wilayah Persekutuan, mereka tidak ada locus standi untuk membantah mengenai projek ini.

Saya agak jawapan yang telah diberikan oleh pihak DBKL adalah tidak munasabah dan juga bersikap angkuh terhadap rakyat dan isu-isu yang perlu dipertimbangkan oleh pihak DBKL.

Selain daripada itu, saya juga ingin mendapat tahu adakah pihak DBKL apabila dia meluluskan apa-apa projek di kawasan Wilayah Persekutuan, terutamanya di kawasan sempadan yang bersempadan dengan kawasan lain di Selangor seperti di Petaling Jaya Utara, adakah satu perbincangan diadakan dengan pihak majlis perbandaran yang lain di sebelah itu. Saya rasa sudah ada banyak projek yang telah diluluskan di kawasan sana yang menyeberangi kawasan Taman Tun yang akan meningkatkan trafik di kawasan itu seperti adanya projek Tropicana City di MPPJ dan juga projek-projek yang lain yang bersempadan dengan pihak Taman Tun.

Adakah satu penyeluruhan mengenai traffic flow diadakan, satu study mengenai seluruh kawasan tersebut sebelum satu-satu projek diluluskan sebab projek ini adalah satu mix development, satu projek yang besar dan telah diiklankan oleh pihak pemaju sebagai satu projek yang bernilai RM500 juta di kawasan itu. Penduduk-penduduk yang di kawasan Petaling Jaya saya buat masa ini selalu membuat aduan kepada saya kerana mereka rasa mereka telah dipinggirkan.

...So, saya harap pihak DBKL dan juga pihak kementerian dapat menjawab supaya DBKL akan lebih mengambil kira isu-isu yang akan dibawa oleh semua penduduk di satu kawasan yang tengah dimajukan dan bukan sahaja penduduk-penduduk yang ada dalam Wilayah Persekutuan sahaja.
And the short reply from the Deputy Minister was (pg 89):
Seterusnya mengenai isu yang dibangkitkan oleh Ahli Yang Berhormat Petaling Jaya mengenai bantahan penduduk daripada SS20 berkenaan pembangunan di Lot 73, Jalan Damansara. Bantahan penduduk SS20 telah diambil kira dan Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur sedang mempertimbangkan dalam permohonan ini. Sesi penerangan telah dibuat bersama penduduk Taman Tun Dr. Ismail dan wakil penduduk SS20 Damansara pada 6 Oktober 2008. Pemaju telah membuat kajian trafik selaras dengan kehendak Jabatan Pengangkutan Bandar Kuala Lumpur.
End of story. Which means that allegedly a consultation has taken place in October this year with not only the residents of TTDI (which I'm unable to verify) as well as with SS20 representatives!

To be frank, I was a little stunned with the reply and didn't pursue the matter further in Parliament that day. After that I met up with the SS20 RT chairperson, and once again, she reaffirmed that there has been absolutely no contact and no consultation with the residents of SS20 since the letter was submitted in December 2007.

So the Deputy Minister has lied and misled the Parliament (which technically is a very serious offence, but we'll never get anywhere pursuing it - BN ministers and MPs does it all the time) and got away with it.

I'll now have to follow up on the matter further but these things really sometimes drive you up the wall as the arrogance of DBKL and the BN government on these issues affecting the people's livelihood are treated with total disdain and disinterest.


KoSong Cafe said...

One of the 'skills' expected of people who know the 'ins and outs' of government bureaucracy (likely to be ex-government senior executives) is to know how to circumvent certain 'necessary rules'. Such advisors can show how to avoid publicity or at least reduce to a bare minimum. We have heard of so many complaints about residents not knowing about certain projects until it was too late.

Certain rules that require gazetting is the most useless because nobody reads them, probably nobody knows where to find the gazettes!

Over the years, haphazard developments meant excessive density causing inadequate roads and parking spaces. A contribution of say Rm15,000 can be paid in lieu of a required parking space and City Hall will be too glad to accept. Cases of extra floors built did not require demolition, only a fine will do. So it makes sense to overbuild and take the risk.

Then there is political contribution which make or break a project.

What we need are more bloodhounds rather than watchdogs to prevent dubious practices.

I know of a relatively minor case of someone not in their good books eg. voters in KL. In spite of the property having been converted to commercial, the structure in the compound of a corner terrace house was demolished because the owner relied on a friend who did not pay the required fees. Which was more serious: illegal structure within a private property or illegal addition of a floor to a multi-storey building?

The enforcement people asked for original receipts of the conversion fees paid when told that it was already converted to commercial. Why can't they check first before demolition? At least give a grace period for fulfilling the necessary requirements. If KL is a place of high standards of enforcement all this while, then it would have been palatable. We can still see illegal structures encroaching on to pavements and roads.

Anonymous said...

to be in the inner circle of BN, one must be a great liar. no two ways about it, aint it?

Anonymous said...

Dear Tony:

There is only so much one can do when the tide is against the little people. Thus I have taken up the Ghandian approach of non-cooperation. Or rather non-patronisation.

I was utterly dissapointed with the way the BBGS redevelopment was bulldozed through. So I have resolved not to do any business whatsoever with any outlets at the Pavillion. And my friends know my position. Now you do too.

My self-exile is insignificant as I don't possess Ghandi's exposure; and I will not save VI or the Lake Gardens (developers have been eyeing these gems for yonks)should another party pulls the same trick out of the bag in the near future. But maybe one day enough people will do their bit and voices will be heard to make a difference for the better.

Perhaps the SS20 folks should make a stand and tell the world they will avoid the development. Engage the developers where it matters.

The other thing - don't buy products that have been advertised on those gargantuan billboards disguised as pedestrain bridges over the Federal Hwy and everywhere else.

Radical, not efficacious but at least I uphold my principles.

Anonymous said...

True Fiction,

I commend your principled approach. On that note, at least the Merdeka Stadium was saved (not so fortunate for the Stadium Negara) and by that reckoning, I believe the VI should be able to hold its ground against development.

BBGS was under too much pressure and SJI is a shadow of what it was. And if SJI goes, so goes CBN. Which also puts stress on St Mary's.

But as the theme of this blog posting goes - nothing is too sacred for the greed of the well-connected.

Anonymous said...

Compare our KL to any good city in the world. New York, Vancouver, Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong.

You know the difference? Zoning. All those cities are planned and zoned. Shopping belt here, private housing there, heavy industries here, hospitals there, traffic situation checked, etc.

Our KL is like a child who just shrewn his toys all over the place.


Tony, if you want urban planning and traffic planning, I suggest a fellow Malaysian to you. Prof Anthony Chin of NUS. He is also part of Singapore' Public Transport Committee.

You can find his profile here

Let's get an expert, and our own citizen to help, when somebody else cannot make it.

Anonymous said...

Purple Haze/Tony:

You may not know how close we came to losing Stadium Merdeka.

Planning submissions by the Renong Group were already completed back in 1996. There would have been no hurdles to redevelopment as the land was already exchanged for the National Sports Complex in Bkt Jalil. The Asian Financial Crisis saved SMerdeka just in time.

The hoarded site next to Stadium Negara stands as testimony as to how close the bulldozers were. The hoarding hides a basement excavation and bored piles that were already installed. A 20 or 30+ storey building was to be constructed there.

There was another scheme by PNB to redevelop the area. PNB took over the assets after Renong got into trouble. It was to be called "Warisan Merdeka". PNB called for consultants in 2006 to provide ideas on a sustainable development. Fortunately, that initiative died (I suspect lack of funds), and someone provided a more sensible idea of restoring SMerdeka to its original state.

I am happy that it has worked out this way. The fact that the restoration of SMerdeka has won awards gives it some protection. For now.

By the way, we have not lost SNegara yet. They dug up the carpark.

More snippets - the trustees of Chin Woo have been fighting each other for years to sell the site for redevelopment.

St Mary is already gone. Development has not started because got hit by Asian Fin Crisis. But it will restart.

I am just wondering what YTL is planning to do to Hotel Majestic.

There has been talk that propositions have been made for the land on which sits the Royal Lake Club (Tony - this will probably interest you)

That's how much pressure there is. And Anon 12:25 is spot on - its all about zoning, and zoning is in the hands of DBKL. The solution is obvious.

Don't get me wrong - I am not against growth or urban renewal. We cannot just display these heritage assets, we must also find a use for them, to make them purposeful - be it social/community or commercial.

I agreed that the BBGS site was no longer suitable for a school. But they should have tried to conserve some of the original BBGS blocks by finding a new use for them. Like CHIJmes, Maxwell Rd Police Station or St Josephs in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like the case of Mentari PJS 5 residents vs MPPJ.

Section 21 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1976 requires notice letters to be sent out and a dialogue carried with neighbouring land owners within a 21-day notice period. Failure on MPPJ's part to do this for that case resulted in the council losing the lawsuit that the residents initiated.

DBKL can say that a consultation was held, but they also need to prove that they have issued letters to the neighbours and show the minutes for the objection meeting that they claim they have done, or the entire project can be declared null and void.

Just food for thought.

Anonymous said...

Dear YB

If ever there was proper town planning & co-ordination in this country, it would have not have been so chaotic - especially in PJ & KL. So, there was never any & never will be.