TAMAN Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) residents are determined to protect and preserve the precious Taman Rimba Kiara from a proposed 4.86ha development.
Their countless protests since early 2016 are to reject a project that will bite off a large chunk of the green lung, while adding 2,116 apartment units.
The proposed development consists of eight blocks of 42 to 54-storey high-end service apartments.
Another 29-storey block comprising 350 units of affordable housing will be allocated to the TTDI longhouse residents.
TTDI residents agree to proper housing at the site for residents of the longhouse, who have for years been deprived of getting their own permanent homes.
It is the high-density eight blocks of high-rise apartments that they are against.
The development also includes the construction of a six-lane highway and a flyover to accommodate the massive growth in population density from 74 to 979 people per acre (0.4ha).
The highway will require extensive expansion works to link Jalan Datuk Sulaiman with Penchala Link, narrowing existing monsoon drains and stripping the area of shady canopy trees lining the street.
Save Taman Rimba Kiara’s coordinating member Leon Koay said at a town hall gathering on Sunday, that the development notice only disclosed the planned development but not additional road works to be done to accommodate the population increase.
“Estimated costs of these road work infrastructures are about RM78mil.
“Only half that amount is needed to build affordable housing for the longhouse residents, so where does the priority lie?
Koay said a search from the Land Office in 2010 showed there was no lot number allocated for the park, indicating that it is public land, but that changed by 2014 as the search showed the title was changed for half of the land without informing residents.
He said the residents had engaged lawyers to advise them on the matter.
Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) deputy president Sarly Adre Sarkum said it was wiling to provide technical knowledge to assist the residents in their fight to save Taman Rimba Kiara.
“To put it in scale, Komtar in Penang is 60 storeys and some of the towers in the proposed development are 54 storeys – just six storeys short of Komtar, and there are eight of them in the vicinity.
“Our concern is that architects should be an integral and fundamental part of the planning stage as architects are seen as the professionals who safeguard the safety and health of the community,” he said, highlighting the importance of developing sustainably and responsibly.
“At the end of the day it is going to be a landmark case if the public park is developed because, if it can be done here, it will set a precedent for other public parks, which are not gazetted to be developed,” said Sarly.
Standing in solidarity with TTDI residents, Taman Tiara Titiwangsa resident Sylvester Navaratnam attended the townhall meeting because of similar circumstances their neighbourhood is facing.
He spoke of the conflict of interest as the public lands being used for commercial purposes were under Federal Territories Foundation (YWP), which is also pursuing a joint-venture with the developers.
“We have already filed a report at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission as the land for both Taman Rimba Kiara and Taman Tiara Titiwangsa are owned by YWP.
Friends of Bukit Kiara (FOBK) president Tan Sri Dr Salleh Mohd Nor gave an impassioned speech on having a good legal basis to fight ‘tooth and nail’ against the proposed development.
“Under the law, you cannot take a private property and give it to somebody to make money but you can do it for a public purpose, so all of us must speak up. We must all unite and support this movement; do not lie down and do not be afraid,” said Dr Salleh.
In response, Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Mohd Amin Nordin Abd Aziz said the project would house the nearby longhouse settlers.
“From what I know, the project has not gotten the Development Order (DO) yet and the main part of the park will not be affected.”
He added that the matter is under Rule 5, a provision that requires the mayor to reach out to registered owners of adjacent land, through advertisements to invite objections to the application for development that involves the conversion of land use, zoning or increase in residential density.