IF we compare the London Mayor’s vision and objectives to Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL), you will observe a stark contrast. The former’s vision is well-defined and very clear.
DBKL’s mission includes programmes such as physical and socioeconomic development, controlled planning, urban services that are planned and consistent based on good governance.
The latest release from the Valuation & Property Services Department under the Ministry of Finance, reported residential overhang and commercial space vacancy are pertinent issues that must be addressed by all parties, particularly local authorities and property developers.
Both must exercise due diligence before arriving at decisions to avoid oversupply situation.
Malaysia had office space totalling more than 169 million sq ft, of which about 36 million sq ft were vacant. About 47% of this unoccupied office space was in the Federal Territory.
Given the above, can we say DBKL has fulfilled its mission of controlled planning?
How about good governance?
It should aim to increase civil engagement with more members of the community to get the best options that serves the needs of the masses as opposed to select groups.
One of DBKL’s client charter is to provide localised social/community development activities with the residents’ associations/non governmental organisations based on the schedule in each parliamentary constituency at least twice a month.
The Taman Desa residents lawsuit against the KL mayor does not seem to support this item in the client charter.
Objections to DBKL and an objection hearing was more than a year ago. Apparently, there were no meetings after that.
The residents’ lawyers’ letter and two subsequent written reminders did not get any response. Information was not forthcoming and it appears the process is either not followed or ineffective.
Further, it may be difficult to get the court’s nod for lawsuits if cases are filed 90 days after DBKL issues a development order. It is akin to authorities depriving citizens of their legal rights.
Another item in the client charter is to plan the development of the capital in an efficient, organised, controlled and transparent manner
With the above in mind, take the case of a stay application to stop a proposed high-density mixed development in Taman Rimba Kiara (TRK) at Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI).
In June 2016, DBKL approved the development of a 29-storey block of affordable housing, and eight blocks of high-end service apartments (42 to 54 storeys, 1,766 units) in TRK, which was designated as public open space under the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2020 (KLSP 2020).
The development was also opposed because it would add to the population density from 74 people for acre to 979, which runs counter to the KLSP 2020.
Last year, the Sultan of Perak criticised private housing developers who reap huge profits by building luxury homes instead of more affordable houses for the people.
The KLSP 2020, item 17.5.2 a) states “Development shall include low-density high cost housing and student accommodation so as to preserve the heavily treed and undulating character of the area. The existing open spaces of Bukit Kiara, Taman Tun Dr. Ismail and the forested hills of Kampong Sungai Penchala shall be preserved together with the West Valley Park”.
The development had been mired in secrecy and alleged conflict of interest from the beginning. One cannot even find the KLSP 2020 on DBKL’s website.
TTDI residents association (TTDIRA) have been trying to seek an appointment with the FT minister for more than a year especially when he said the project will definitely proceed despite the opposition encountered, but to no avail.
On November 3, TTDI residents had a chance to meet the minister at a Bicara Rakyat @TTDI dialogue. He said: “You the rakyat are our bosses; we, ministers and our staff are your servants.”
He also said his office was always open to listen to people’s grouses and promised residents can have a meeting with him to discuss TRK.
Three days after the TTDI dialogue, the TTDIRA sent an email asking for an appointment to meet up. But after two weeks, the “servant” has not even acknowledged receipt of the email.
The minister aside, let me touch a bit on the London mayor, Sadiq Khan.
The 46-year-old son of a Pakistani bus driver’s willingness to make Uber “play by the rules” displayed his resolve on wealthy corporations and the rich.
He made leaders of other wealthy cities experiencing a lack of affordable homes take notice by appealing for powers to hike up taxes for high-value homes left empty. He also took on Donald Trump and dismissed the US president as juvenile.
He has emerged with his integrity and popularity intact.
I think KLites would love to have someone like Khan but I guess he is special and he is an elected mayor.
DBKL may be different if the mayor is elected. We may well see a well-defined and very clear vision and objectives for DBKL. For physical and socioeconomic development, the Mayor may even disagree with the minister for the sake and well-being of KLites.
If KL is to be a city that cares for its people, then DBKL must develop more public open space. The value of open and green space for public use should not be regarded as less important than the excessive desire of developers, big and small.
By the way, resident association council members are elected, alas, without pay. It is hoped those who are elected and being paid, to ensure the mission, objectives and functions of DBKL are achieved and fulfilled.
Last but not least, resident associations and residents are not irritants but bosses – as the FT minister intimated – who would expect the servants to listen attentively and carry out duties as instructed and directed.
What say you … – November 18, 2017.
* Saleh Mohammed reads The Malaysian Insight
* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. Article may be edited for brevity and clarity.