TTDI folk angry that Taman Rimba Kiara still under threat

Noel Achariam

Taman Rimba Kiara supporters taking part in a protest to save the open space last November. Residents of Taman Tun Dr Ismail fought the previous Barisan Nasional administration to preserve one of the last green lungs in the city and are shocked to discover that the new KL City Plan fails to safeguard it. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, November 21, 2018.

TAMAN Tun Dr Ismail residents fighting to save a public park from development are up in arms over the recently gazetted Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020, which shows that the park has been rezoned with the possibility for future development.

Stakeholders were never consulted on the plan before it was gazetted and are alarmed at its deviations from the KL Draft Plan 2008, said Save Taman Rimba Kiara (STRK) coordinator Leon Koay.

The gazetted plan was made publicly available from November 12. 

In the 2008 version, more than 8ha of Taman Rimba Kiara was preserved as a public open space or kawasan lapang awam, with the exception of a Hindu temple and wooden longhouses for former rubber estate workers who moved there after when Bukit Kiara plantation was acquired by the government nearly four decades ago.

In the gazetted plan, which is based on a 2018 review of the draft plan, Taman Rimba Kiara is split into three areas.

One plot is earmarked for mixed development, another for high-density housing and a third measuring about 2.4ha is for public open space. 

Koay said the rezoning was “unacceptable” and the plan must revert back to public open space.

“The rezoning should not have happened. It should be reversed. It is disappointing to see that it is in the recently gazetted plan.

“We voted for Pakatan Harapan and we believed that they can deliver reform and changes,” he told The Malaysian Insight.

The rezoning means that not only has designated open space shrunk from 8ha to just 2.4ha, but the STRK’s study of the gazetted plan found that the high-density housing plot appears to allocate a density of 900 residents per hectare.

Save Taman Rimba Kiara coordinator Leon Koay says it is not enough to charge a former minister with corruption but there is need for wholesale reforms at City Hall. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, November 21, 2018.

The 2.4ha kept as public open space does not seem to be safe either, as it falls within a larger area marked as a transit or transport planning zone that includes the TTDI MRT station, the STRK said in documents posted on its Facebook page and given to The Malaysian Insight.

According to the group’s interpretation of the zoning, it appears that the Kuala Lumpur mayor still has the power to allow further development that could override or supersede the current zoning plan.

SRTK will attend a townhall on Friday night to get clarification from Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad, Kuala Lumpur Mayor Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahlan and Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh, he said.

Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has yet to address the need for permanent housing for the 100 families living at the Taman Rimba Kiara longhouse for more than 30 years while waiting for new homes, he added.

Koay asked whether Khalid has been swayed by DBKL insiders to allow development despite protests from residents.

“Why is there no action taken against senior City Hall officials for allowing for development at the park?

“It’s not only about charging the former federal territories minister (Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor) with corruption, but the internal processes also need to be reformed.”

Tengku Adnan was charged recently with two counts of corruption for accepting RM3 million in bribes to help developers with projects in Kuala Lumpur.

Khalid on October 31 said in the Dewan Rakyat that the KL City Plan 2020 had been gazetted. The news shocked several residents’ groups in Kuala Lumpur suburbs fighting against development projects in their already congested neighbourhoods.

Asked why he broke a promise made in July to engage residents before gazetting the plan, Khalid said he never made such a pledge and only said he would “consider” meeting residents.

Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh hopes that Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad will listen to the residents’ appeals and rezone Taman Rimba Kiara plot as a public open space again. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Nazir Sufari, November 21, 2018.

STRK has been fighting the redevelopment of Taman Rimba Kiara for more than a year now, since news of a project by developer Memang Perkasa to build two high-rise blocks of serviced apartments of 42-storeys and 54-storeys each, along with another 30-storey block for affordable homes to relocate the longhouse residents.

TTDI residents are against the building of serviced apartments but agree that housing should be provided for the longhouse dwellers.

Yeoh lodged a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in May over the project soon after her election as Segambut MP.

TTDI residents last year filed a judicial review against the project but the case is pending a “mutual resolution” being worked out by DBKL.

Yeoh when contacted said she hoped Khalid would listen to the residents’ appeals at the townhall on Friday and rezone the Taman Rimba Kiara plot as a public open space again.

“We hope Khalid and mayor Hisham will listen to the grouses of the residents as they want Taman Rimba to remain green,” she said in a message to The Malaysian Insight.

On the reports lodged with the MACC, she said officers have told her that investigations are still ongoing. – November 21, 2018.

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