Concerned for their safety, the public want the remaining nine blocks of Pekeliling flats in Jalan Tun Razak demolished soon. The abandoned building is said to be a haunt for drug addicts and a hide-out for unsavoury characters.
KUALA Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has been put in a tight spot over the dilapidated Tunku Abdul Rahman Flats (Pekeliling Flats) in Jalan Tun Razak, which have become a magnet for crime and seedy activities in the city.
The 45-year-old building, which was supposed to be demolished in early 2010, has been in a limbo due to a legal tussle.
This gives DBKL a bad name and the local authority has come under fire for not doing anything to address the numerous complaints highlighted by the public pertaining to health and safety.
The flats, where its last occupants vacated the premises in the late 2008, were left to rot.
Since then, vagrants, drug addicts and the homeless have made the 17-storey flats their home.
Safety activist and expert Capt K. Bala said the abandoned flats were a perfect place for crime and a hotbed for illegal activities.
“The flats are located in a prime area with a bus terminal and monorail station, which makes it a high human traffic area. These people can become victims of crime,” he said.
According to Bala, abandoned buildings are the perfect places to commit a crime of opportunity and related the 1987 unsolved murder of 10-year-old Ang May Hong.
“The little girl’s body was found several hours later in an unoccupied house about 200m from her home in Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur.
“The murderer, suspected to be a drug addict, has not been caught. Since that day, every time I walk past an empty building or house, it chills me to the bone knowing that crimes like this can happen anytime and anywhere,’’ Bala said.
He added that as reducing crime was one of the Government’s National Key Results Area (NKRA), it must address all issues that were of concern to the public.
“A crime can happen anywhere. Prevention is a must and we must eliminate crime hotspots to make the city safer,’’ said Bala.
Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said he agreed with Bala that Pekeliling Flats was a crime magnet and urged the Government to clean up the area.
“This is an old problem and there are many abandoned buildings in the city that have become a hide-out for unsavoury characters. The Government should expedite the development or at least demolish the structure,’’ Lee said.
The Malaysians Against Rape, Assault and Snatch (Marah) has also been receiving complaints from its members as well as the public about crime-related activities in the Pekeliling flats.
“They are concerned for their safety due to the presence of many undesirable elements and the illegal activities of suspected drug dealers and drug addicts.
“Gangs involved in criminal activities are also suspected of using this building for their meetings and to hide stolen goods or drugs. Meanwhile, vagrants are using the abandoned flats as shelter,’’ said Marah founder Dave Avran.
“The flats have been vacant since Dec 31, 2008. Due to its location in a prime area, we urge the developers to start their work soon as possible because the abandoned buildings pose a danger to many innocent people,’’ said Dave.
They are also concerned that leaving the structures idle for too long will lead to them falling apart.
“The beams, doors, windows and piping can easily collapse if pressure is exerted; this pose a threat to those who venture or nearby,” he said.
Privatisation and redevelopment plans for the flats were announced in early 1995 and an estimated 8,000 to 12,000 residents were relocated in two phases.
Government-appointed developer Asie Sdn Bhd began demolishing Block A and B at the end of 2005 after most of the residents from the 11 blocks moved out, mostly to the Taman Sri Rampai flats in Setapak.
In January 2010, StarMetro reported that demolition work on the Pekeliling flats would begin in two months and that the nearby Sri Terengganu flats were scheduled to be demolished the same year.
According to the report, all the blocks in both places were expected to be demolished in one-and-a-half years.
However, the work was not carried out as expected. According to previous reports, the area would see a redevelopment project called Taman Sari. The project was part of the Government’s urban renewal efforts to provide residents with better housing and living condition.
Pekeliling flats were one of the earliest housing projects in Kuala Lumpur.
The 11 blocks of flats were built between 1964 and 1967.
Related Stories: Mayor: We will carry out periodic inspection of flats