40-year fact-finding mission to nowhere

Bangsar open space

Back to the past and into oblivion.

This sums up the outcome of a meeting between Kuala Lumpur City Hall and residents in Jalan Maarof, Bangsar, over a piece of land which was granted a change of status thus facilitating a four-storey commercial project there soon.

Forty-two years after the 0.2-hectare land was first surrendered by Eng Lian Enterprise Sdn Bhd (original land owner) to the authorities for it to be used by the public, we are back to square one finding out what transpired over the years.

During the meeting at City Hall last Friday which ended up as a ‘fact-finding’ exercise, representatives from several Bangsar residents associations were informed a stop-work order cannot be issued to the developer as the present land owner Melor Travels Sdn Bhd had gone through the processes to obtain a lease on the land, paid a RM2 million premium and everything was above board.

Residents group Selamatkan Kuala Lumpur vice chairman Datuk Mumtaz Ali, who attended the meeting, said any attempts to stop the development will be a costly affair for City Hall.

Fight for Change 2019

The residents then asked if it was possible to know what had transpired over the years, including who had chaired a series of land exco meetings which decided that a temporary occupation licence be awarded for the land to be used as a car showroom in 1991 and who ultimately decided the land should be sold to the present land owners in 2004.

“We were informed only the director of the land office has the information and it was best for our MP Fahmi Fadzil to speak to the land office about the matter,” said Mumtaz, adding Fahmi and representatives from the land office were present at the said session.

“We can only plan our next move after obtaining the required information,” he said.

Mumtaz added if there had been criminal breach of trust during these exco meetings, only then can the residents decide on the next move, including lodging a report with the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission.

Mumtaz said in any case, City Hall and the land office should review the matter to find out if either party had failed to handle the case effectively.

“The land was marked as open space when the Draft Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020 was revealed in 2008. How was then sold in 2004?”

City Hall should have withheld any approvals and alerted the land office that it is supposed to be marked as an open space, he added.

Twentytwo13 had highlighted the land impasse which had been unresolved over the past 40 years. In our series of articles, we had questioned how the Federal Territories Land and Mines Department and City Hall allowed an open space to be leased to a private company and also allowed the land status to be converted and finally awarding a development order for the commercial project in 2017 knowing that the land had been an issue in contention for years.

While fingers were previously pointed at the previous Barisan Nasional government, residents had last month spoke about the inaction of the Pakatan Harapan government to undo the wrong despite promises.

The change in land status of the land is part of the 273 infringements recorded in the now gazetted Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020.