IPOH: Conditions by the Ipoh City Council calling for a public hearing next week on the proposed development projects under the Ipoh Local Plan 2020 have been criticised as being unfriendly to the public by Perak MCA, says Low Guo Nan.
The Perak MCA public services and complaints bureau chief said that the invitation letters sent out by the council were handed a few days before the start of the two-day hearings to be held on Feb 17 and 18.
Low said he received his letter of Wednesday (Feb 12), while some of those who had objected to the proposed projects have yet to receive their letters.
"The letters should be sent at least two weeks prior to the hearings to give people time to apply for leave, since the hearings are held on working days.
"I want to ask the council if their objections are still valid, if they are not able to attend the hearings," he said at a press conference on Friday (Feb 14).
On Jan 22, Low had urged the public to object to 10 projects proposed under the plan as open spaces and greenery are disappearing from the city.
He had said that housing and commercial projects had been planned on 158.21ha at various locations in Ipoh, adding that these 10 locations involved two water catchment ponds in Taman Ipoh Permai, Kledang Saiong Forest, forest land in Tambun, Malay reserve land in Tanjung Rambutan, agriculture land beside the Ipoh-Lumut highway, agriculture land in Taman Chepor Sentosa, open space behind the Biji Timah clinic in Ipoh, another open space next to SMJK Yuk Choy on Jalan Kuala Kangsar and a recreational area in Taman Kinta.
Low also said that the council had also imposed a condition that those who attend and have objections must read the Planning Act Policy and then mention the chapter and the paragraph before raising an objection.
"This will definitely scare people, as not everyone is well versed with the Act, and as such, will probably withdraw themselves from attending the hearing. The hearing should also be opened to the public, and not only those who handed in the objection forms. Some people missed the deadline due to poor publicity, and they were unable to hand in their forms on time," said Low.
He also commented on the restriction on recording the event although it is a public hearing.
"I am sure that no secrets, or confidential information will be revealed. The hearing should be held in a transparent manner, and the media should be invited," he added.
Low also urged state housing, local government and public transport committee chairman Paul Yong Choo Kiong to attend the hearing.
Besides that, he said, the state assemblymen of constituencies where residents have objected to certain projects must also be present.
"This is the time to show you are concerned about your constituents," he added.
Meanwhile, former MCA councillor Low Leong Sin said state assemblymen could come to the hearing to give instructions for either the project to go on, or for it to be cancelled.
"This is the time for them to come forward and listen to the plight of their constituents, and to halt such projects from taking place," he added.
Efforts are being made to get a response from the council over the matter.