Sri Ram offered DBKL his services free, says FT Ministry

Bede Hong

The Federal Territories Ministry has denied that DBKL paid a large sum to hire Gopal Sri Ram (pic) for its case involving Taman Rimba Kiara, saying that the lawyer offered to represent the local government pro bono. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, November 25, 2019.

THE Federal Territories Ministry today denied that City Hall (DBKL) paid “a large amount” of money to hire Gopal Sri Ram in a development dispute case. It said the prominent lawyer had in fact offered to work pro bono.

“The media today reported that DBKL has appointed Gopal Sri Ram as its lawyer in the Taman Rimba Kiara case.

“Please be informed that he has in fact offered his services ‘pro bono’ to DBKL for this case. When this offer was referred to the law firm representing DBKL, it agreed to take up on it.

“Therefore, the allegations that DBKL spent a large amount for his services are false and baseless,” said the Federal Territories Ministry said in a statement today.

The statement was in response to a The Malaysian Insight report that Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) residents are livid that Sri Ram has been hired by DBKL for the Taman Rimba Kiara (TRK) development case.

The case revolves around an appeal filed by the TTDI residents to reverse a lower court’s dismissal of their judicial review challenge over the approval of the TRK development.

The residents opposed the proposed nine blocks of apartments in a venture between Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan (YWP) and Memang Perkasa Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Malton Bhd.

DBKL approved the joint venture in 2014, which residents said would destroy 10ha of one of the last remaining green lungs in Kuala Lumpur.

Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad had been negotiating for a scaled-down plan comprising four blocks of serviced apartments and 204 affordable housing units, which most residents rejected.

Sri Ram appeared during a preliminary hearing at the Court of Appeal, acting as counsel for DBKL. The former Federal Court judge is currently the lead prosecutor for two ongoing Najib Razak 1MDB cases, which he said he is doing pro bono.

In an immediate reaction, Save Taman Rimba Kiara Group media coordinator Khairudin Rahim said it was only DBKL that has not paid the lawyer, who joins an array of other lawyers arguing the case for several parties, including Malton Group.

“In the end, it is a secondary matter whether Sri Ram was paid or not. Our question is why such a prominent legal figure who should be reserved for matters of grave national importance, is being used to spearhead their campaign against the interests of the residents.

“Surely they cannot say he is merely another lawyer. The government has chosen him to lead the 1MDB cases! We want to know what Attorney-General Tommy Thomas feels about all this.” – November 25, 2019.

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