Reality bites in battle between KLites and FT Minister Khalid Samad

Khalid Samad

It is ironic that the people who voted for change to bring down a 61-year-old government in Malaysia are now finding themselves ‘fighting’ the new Pakatan Harapan administration.

Stakeholders in Kuala Lumpur are battling a series of issues due to the lack understanding over local matters and decision makers who still believe the government knows best.

While the Pakatan Harapan administration vowed to bring about institutional reforms, recent happenings involving the Federal Territories Ministry, City Hall and city MPs leave a bitter taste in the mouth of KLites.

The issues include:

  • Stakeholders disagreeing with the decision by the Federal Territories Minister to gazette the Draft Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020. The stakeholders claim that Khalid Samad had gazetted a “2015 plan” instead of the 2013 plan which had undergone the required processes and procedures.
  • Khalid defended his move to gazette the city plan on local radio station BFM89.9, stressing he had not done anything wrong by gazetting the said plan.
  • Last month, the ministry made a sudden announcement that a 1km stretch of Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman would be closed to all vehicles except buses beginning March 15.
  • Khalid revealed City Hall would conduct a fresh public hearing over a controversial housing project in Taman Tiara Titiwangsa – despite a landmark Court of Appeal ruling on March 13 which is set to change the way public objections are heard and how projects are approved in Kuala Lumpur
  • Khalid insisted it was not practical to cancel an upscale development project in Taman Rimba Kiara at Taman Tun Dr Ismail as it would cost City Hall RM150 million in compensation to the developer if the project was cancelled. He said those criticising the project should look at the bigger picture as the same money could be well-spent elsewhere.
  • He later said he would let the Cabinet decide on the fate of the Taman Rimba Kiara project.
  • In rebutting Khalid, Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh called the RM150 million figure a “myth”. Khalid hit back by saying those who think the figure was imaginary should give an undertaking that they would pay this “imaginary fee” if City Hall was ordered to pay if the council cancelled the project’s development order.

Save Taman Rimba Kiara working group coordinator Leon Koay rebutted the RM150 million estimate. He claimed that based on documents filed in court, the developer had only paid RM115 million for work related to the project.

“RM84.4 million of that total figure comprises land premiums and development charges imposed by City Hall. Another RM26 million comprises joint-venture payments to Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan.

“If the project is cancelled, these amounts will be refunded for the 12 acres of land related to the development. These would be refunds, not compensation,” Koay said.

He urged Khalid to seek proper independent advice as to what amounts to compensation, so that the Cabinet gets a fair and accurate picture.

Selamatkan Kuala Lumpur (SKL), a coalition of residents’ associations in Kuala Lumpur, termed Khalid’s call for another Rule 5 hearing for residents in Taman Tiara Titiwangsa “disappointing and depressing”. This despite the Court of Appeal’s ruling that a previous hearing conducted by City Hall was null and void.

“City Hall and those associated with the judgment must pay due respect to the judgment and not make a mockery of the case which is detrimental to the people,” said the coalition’s vice-chairman Datuk M. Ali who represents over 30 residents’ associations and non-governmental organisations.

“What is happening to the Pakatan Harapan government? It gave all kinds of people friendly assurances but the deliverables are questionable.”

“It is even more surprising that all the present MPs in Kuala Lumpur, and those of the past regime, have chosen to remain silent on the judgment,” he said.

He said SKL has repeatedly highlighted to Khalid that those directly or indirectly connected with the Draft Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020, either from City Hall, FT Ministry or even professional bodies, must not be involved in the preparation of the KL Structure Plan 2040 and the Draft Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2040. He added they would have “vested interests” and may “try to right the wrongs” in the KL City Plan 2020.

“Dear Wakil Rakyat Kuala Lumpur, sila bangun. The wake-up call is long overdue.”

“Let us, the people of Kuala Lumpur, hear you out now but not just before the next general election. We are looking forward to meeting up with KL MPs on periodically as promised by them immediately after GE14 to share and update on their achievements benefiting the rakyat,” he added.