In the 1960s, the Federal Government acquired 648 hectares of rubber estate land in Bukit Kiara for recreational and ‘open space’ purposes.
Over the years, parcels of land were handed out to individuals and private companies. The remaining available area now is 188.9 hectares or about 30 per cent of the original.
The current size of Bukit Kiara is equivalent to 300 football fields; it is one of the last remaining green lungs in Kuala Lumpur mainly because of its strategic location.
One of the most important agendas forward is to secure Bukit Kiara for future generations by gazetting it. The Cabinet made a decision in June 2007 to gazette Bukit Kiara.
But progress has been very slow. In a recent interview with BFM, Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad said in passing that his ministry is working to gazette Bukit Kiara before the end of the year.
There have been no further details so far. These are some issues that stakeholders would like answers to:
- When exactly will Bukit Kiara be gazetted? It should not be a mere announcement but non-governmental organisations should be briefed before the gazettement.
- Will Khalid give his word that all stakeholders will be informed and consulted before the gazettement?
- What will be the size of the gazetted area? After taking into account the parcels of land dished out by the previous government, what is the acreage that will be finally gazetted?
- Can the minister enlighten the public on the character of Bukit Kiara once gazetted? Who will manage the area? Will adequate resources be allocated – both manpower and financial?
- Will Kuala Lumpur City Hall as the approving authority for all development projects reinforce the message that Bukit Kiara will remain green forever via a strong policy statement reminding developers that any development applications will be rejected. This will keep greedy developers at bay, especially those who had used the backdoor in the past.
To ensure openness and transparency, it is hoped the minister briefs the relevant parties and stakeholders so that details of the gazettement will not come as a shock once implemented.
There should not be a repeat of the gazetting of the KL City Plan 2020 recently. NGOs were unhappy when Khalid announced that the City Plan gazettement had been completed. The NGOs had expected consultations before that was done.
What does the public want of Bukit Kiara?
Bukit Kiara users want it to remain as a natural forest park with no man-made structures as well as preserving and managing the natural water sources and streams.
Having a Class One water source in the heart of the city is indeed unique. Many also don’t realise that the presence of Bukit Kiara has prevented major floods in the city.
The trails for hikers and cyclists will have to preserved, managed and maintained. Feedback from major stakeholders such as Friends of Bukit Kiara and the Trails Association of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor would be vital to preserve the area in pristine state.
In a wider national perspective, Bukit Kiara serves as an important vehicle for social interaction among Malaysians; participation in activities such as walking, hiking and cycling can help promote national unity.
Bukit Kiara should remain a national treasure. With good management and maintenance, our children and their children can continue to enjoy the place.
Let’s also be mindful of the plight of the longhouse residents who have sacrificed a lot to let us enjoy Bukit Kiara. We should support all efforts for them to have decent housing as soon as possible.
There is still so much to do and great effort is required to make Bukit Kiara what the public and users want it to be. Sustainability should be the key.