Engage with your councillors


  • Letters
  • Saturday, 21 Oct 2017

Resident Datuk P. Gunasilan at the townhall meeting on May 7 objecting the proposed development on Taman Rimba Kiara said he originally helped with the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2020 and encourages stronger action plans as it is not enough to simply sign petitions but appeal to the National Physical Planning Council. He was one of many TTDI residents and Taman Rimba Kiara supporters objecting to the project.

I REFER to the letter by Dr Pola Singh (The Star, Oct 13, Open areas are getting smaller) and I fully agree with the views and concerns raised by the writer.

While it is understood that development must take place, it must be in accordance with proper studies on its impact on the quality of living for the common folk. As a long-time resident of Bangsar, I have seen the rapid urbanisation and growth over the last few decades. Parking is a daily problem and traffic congestion is the norm. Even the residential areas are not spared when it comes to indiscriminate parking especially by those who work in the commercial areas in the vicinity. These cars are parked for long hours, much to the displeasure and unhappiness of the residents living here, many of whom are retirees, pensioners and ordinary folk who just want some peace of mind.

As for open areas set aside as green lungs, there is a small plot of land along Jalan Maarof, adjacent to the Bangsar Baru mosque which was earmarked as a green lung in the KL Draft City Plan 2020 but it was occupied by a private car showroom for more than a decade. Ironically, this green lung now has a new land title and is in private hands. Recently, Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) approved a development order for a three-storey commercial development on this controversial plot of land despite receiving objections from various quarters that this would deny the people nearby of a designated green lung, worsen traffic chaos and add to noise pollution. How the land title and the status from “tanah lapang” was changed to private hands still remains a mystery.

We need green spaces as they filter pollutants and dust from the air, provide shade and lower temperatures in urban areas, and they even reduce soil erosion into our waterways. So, why are local authorities giving approvals in already congested areas for further development, especially on plots identified as green lungs?

I fully comprehend the anger, frustration and resentment of the residents of Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) (pic) who are totally against any commercial development in Taman Rimba Kiara as the land was marked as a green lung in KL’s city plan. More often than not, many people and stakeholders who attend town hall meetings, briefings and dialogues organised by local councils use them as an opportunity to air their objections, raise pertinent issues but the reality is that these invitations are merely a means of satisfying the local council’s rules in considering approvals. Sadly, the minutes of many of these meetings are often not recorded. That clearly demonstrates the lack of significance given to a public hearing.

Taman Rimba Kiara and Bangsar are just two scenarios where development orders were issued for commercial or residential development despite strong objections on the grounds that such development will be detrimental to the environment, against basic principles and will bring dire irretrievable impact to the living of residents, the public and drastically change the landscape of its surrounding areas.

Kudos to TTDI residents for initiating legal proceedings and for fighting the case on the simple principle that land reserved for a green lung must be protected, respected and be preserved for our future generations.

Sustainable developments

must be done with these in mind and not by giving in to political pressure and demands from politicians. We demand that local authorities and approving agencies be more accountable, compassionate and uphold the principle of good governance and serve and protect the best interest of the people.

It is comforting to see there are still citizens who speak up, join forces and campaign hard to preserve the shrinking forests and green lungs in the Klang Valley. But I strongly believe people need to be more proactive and question decisions made by the local councils and approving bodies. It is very important to know your local councillors and continuously engage with them for the simple reason that they are responsible for their actions and they are public servants entrusted to provide the best service for people.

It is imperative to know what development plans are in store

that would affect your neighbourhood. For ages, people left the responsibility of town planning to local councils and, on many occasions, decisions were politically made due to very strong connections between property developers and those who walk in the corridors of power.

That is why if we citizens do not invest time and effort to organise ourselves and engage with local councils, policymakers will implement development plans according to what they think is right and deny society the right to have a say and question their intentions.

It is hoped the Government will restore the confidence of the public. It is still not too late for DBKL to terminate the development orders issued for Taman Rimba Kiara and the one made for the plot of land in Bangsar.

PREM KUMAR NAIR

Kuala Lumpur

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