Residents left in the dark about development of Federal Hill land


RESIDENTS living in Bukit Persekutuan, also known as Federal Hill, in Kuala Lumpur woke up one morning to discover an excavator stripping bare a plot of land in their backyard. The 2.5ha institutional land located at Lot 55, Jalan Travers on Federal Hill, has been stripped off its trees and greenery and now looks like a wasteland.

Needless to say, residents are worried that it could be another development in the offing.

“We do not want to speculate or accuse anyone right now, so we wrote and even visited Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) requesting for information on the project. Sadly, nothing has been forthcoming,” resident Tan Lye King said.

“We are very concerned about this new development and hope that the authorities will talk to us and tell us what is happening.

Residents even carried out a land search on the land and were even more perplexed as the section describing the land status had been left blank.

“All this is very fishy and we want answers. We are disturbed because this is an institutional land, which means it is meant for public facilities that would benefit the community like a police station, community park or even a fire department. But we are willing to give DBKL the benefit of the doubt,” Tan said.

Institutional land in Federal Hill stripped bare. Residents are fuming
Residents were shocked to see an excavator clearing the land in their neighbourhood. — Photos by AZHAR MAHFOF
 

Another resident Pook Li Yoon said the last time a development project had been proposed in the area, the residents objected and the local authorities, including the Federal Territories Ministry, scrapped the project.

“Former Federal Territories Minister Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin and former Kuala Lumpur mayor Tan Sri Ahmad Fuad Ismail cancelled the mega project after we protested and also because the land in question was institutional, which means it is not meant for commercial purposes.”

“I hope the current administration will respect and honour the decision made by their predecessors,” Pook said, adding that residents would not keep quiet about the matter.

Another resident, who only wished to be known as Lim, said, “DBKL has always promoted the LA21 programme, which is aimed at ensuring sustainable development at a local level.

“And the programme is all about getting the community to be involved in public participation with DBKL, the private sector and other government agencies. We have written to them and visited them, but until now, not a word from them,” said the frustrated resident.

In 2005, the land was given to a developer in a land swap deal to build two 30-storey blocks and one 16-storey structure as well as a five-storey podium.

This project was clearly contrary to the low-density and non-commercial proposal for the area in the KL Structure Plan 2020.

Many residents said they had decided to buy properties in Federal Hill because the sales and purchase agreement clearly stated that the land was institutional and not commercial.

Finally bowing to pressure after dialogue sessions with the Federal Hill community, DBKL and the Federal Territories Ministry agreed to comply to their requests and maintain the development plan for Bukit Travers as an institutional land.

When contacted, Raja Nong Chik, who is the Lembah Pantai Umno chief, said the government of the day must keep their promise.

“Back then, we decided that there would not be any commercial development at the site; I hope the land remains as institutional land,” Raja Nong Chik said.

Raja Nong Chik added that he would speak to the mayor and the Federal Territories Minister to find out what was taking place at the site.

Meanwhile, when told about the ongoing land clearing, DBKL planning deputy director-general Datuk Mahadi Che Ngah said he needed time to investigate.

“Give me some time. I prefer to go to the ground and see for myself first before commenting,” he told StarMetro.

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