City Hall approving projects illegally, says KL residents’ leader

Low Han Shaun

Dr Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman says it is time to revive local council elections so that City Hall has its own mayor and is managed professionally. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Hasnoor Hussain, February 14, 2018.

KUALA Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has been approving development projects illegally, said a veteran lawyer and head of the Selamatkan KL or Save KL (SKL) residents’ group, which is increasingly up in arms over new projects in already densely populated suburbs. 

Dr Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman said DBKL committed two main errors, which is to alter development plans without going through the proper legal process, and the second, failing to approve the city’s local plan within a reasonable time.

“They have approved altered development plans, like changing land status, and they have not approved the local plan according to the requirements of the law.

“They should have approved the local plan as soon as possible and not 10 years, which is what they are doing now,” the 84-year-old Aziz told The Malaysian Insight recently following SKL’s protest at the 9th World Urban Forum at the KLCC Convention Centre over the weekend.

Under the Federal Territory (Planning) Act 1982, a broader structure plan and a more detailed local plan – both of which define land use for the city’s development – must be drafted and gazetted under this act, the lawyer said.

“Under the law, you have to use these two plans to administer Kuala Lumpur.

“They have done the structure plan, which is just an outline of the development of the area. It’s just a framework. By law, as soon as possible, they should introduce the local plan, which will go into detail on every lot, plot ratios, and all that.

“The intent of the law is that administration of (development) planning should be based on the local plan.”

Taman Tun Dr Ismail residents at a protest last November to save Taman Rimba Kiara, where a proposed condominium project will destroy one of the city’s green lungs. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, February 14, 2018.

However, the local plan, called the KL City Plan 2020, has not been gazetted even though it was launched in 2008.

Last year, DBKL said it was pointless to gazette the plan as it was outdated and due to expire.

Instead, KL mayor Mohd Amin Nordin Abd Aziz said there would be discussions for the drafting of a new plan, the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2050.

Aziz said without a gazetted local plan, DBKL is required under the Federal Territory (Planning) Act to refer to the structure plan.

“Whatever you do under the structure plan, any alteration must follow the due process again, which is to ask for views, for objections, hold a proper hearing and then you have to give public notice for it to be gazetted and so on.”

He cited the Damansara Heights suburb, which was reserved for a golf course and open space with trees. The area is now a city with more skyscrapers above 10 stories.

Aziz said in 1969, the area was empty land which had been designated for a golf course and children’s playground under the structure plan.

“And then it became a city without our knowledge. Of course, DBKL said they have told us, but I do not know about these alterations.”

Lack of transparency

Under the same act, DBKL must submit development proposals, including changes to land use, to the Federal Territories minister and upon the minister’s consent, publish a public notice of the proposed changes.

However, he said DBKL often only asked people around the area of the proposed project to view the notice at its office, which is inconvenient for many and not transparent.

“That is why SKL, consisting of more than 30 residents’ associations and groups in Kuala Lumpur, is pushing for the democratisation of City Hall.

“The administration of the city council should be governed by the people of Kuala Lumpur, they choose their own mayor, their own officers and manage it professionally,” he said, adding that SKL supports a return of local council elections.

SKL has existed since 2008 and was then known as Coalition to Save Kuala Lumpur to participate in the KL City Plan 2020 discussions.

It was revived as SKL this year after 2017 saw residents’ associations like Taman Desa and Taman Tun Dr Ismail fighting against new development projects.

Just yesterday, TTDI residents were again angered upon discovering plans for a new office building on an existing kindergarten site.

SKL also includes residents’ associations of Bukit Damansara, Medan Damansara, Mont Kiara, Lucky Gardens in Bangsar, and many more groups want to join, said Aziz.

These are affluent and built-up residential areas but have seen changes to their environment as houses are turned into shop galleries, green lungs stripped for new projects and increased traffic congestion when plot ratios are increased. 

The overdevelopment of Kuala Lumpur, said Aziz, has caused other problems like an influx of foreign workers, drug abuse and security issues.

“(If DBKL) wants (KL) to flourish in a sustainable manner, we want to help them. But they should not be persuaded by some very rich people wanting to build buildings as saying they are developing the city. 

“That is not development, that is business.”

Asked how far SKL would go, Aziz said they are not planning any legal action but will continue to engage DBKL first.

“We have town planners among our members, we have people who had lived in many areas all over the world.

“That is why our goal is for DBKL to engage with us first, as they had done before in 2008.” – February 14, 2018.

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  • Approving project's illegally?that's is the Hallmark of ketuanan what

    Posted 6 years ago by Leslie Chan · Reply

  • In 2008, it was under badawi. Now, under najib, everything planned in PM department. Trouble is, we do not know who is in charge there.

    Posted 6 years ago by Syed Putra · Reply