Make this a proud showcase


PRIME Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is scheduled to meet the landowners of Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur, on Sept 21 to discuss its redevelopment plan (“Dr M to sit in on meeting between FT Ministry, Kampung Baru land-owners and next-of-kin”, The Star, July 27; online at bit.ly/star_drm). But there are many questions that need to be answered before the meeting takes place.

In April this year, I wrote a letter entitled “Be on same page in Kampung Baru plan” (The Star, April 25; online at bit.ly/star_plan) commenting on the plan to develop 61.1ha of the area. In May, various news reports said the Kampung Baru Detailed Development Masterplan that had been launched in 2015 will be scrapped since the layout was not suitable. A new master plan, initiated by DBKL (KL City Hall) was on the drawing board and was focused on sustainable living. The standard would be on par with the KLCC and Putrajaya developments, with lots of open space.

Kampung Baru is 120 years old; its land area of 121.4ha is administered by the Kampung Baru Development Corp (KBDC). The area comprises over 89ha deemed a “Malay Agriculture Settlement” (MAS), the Chow Kit area and the PKNS flats (combined area of 32.4ha). Valuers put the area’s land price at between RM500 and RM800 per square foot.

In April, it was estimated that up to RM10bil would be required to acquire 61ha, subject to agreement from landowners based on a willing-buyer, willing-seller basis. The option is to get cash or an apartment in return for the portion of land.

KBDC said DBKL hoped to present the first draft of the new master plan to all landowners by August. “We will have more details on what the landowners want following the presentation in August, ” KBDC CEO Zulkarnain Hassan said in a May 30 news report.

It seems the new redevelopment plan will have 83 million sq ft of residential (70%) and commercial floor space (30%) with iconic corporate towers and retail complexes; there will not be any landed houses. This is to subsidise the development with an estimated gross development value of up to RM60bil, subject to market conditions and demand.

The plan, essentially, is to raise the income and quality of life of Kampung Baru residents and landowners and to extend KL’s Golden Triangle area with an expectation of increased property prices.

Suddenly, the Rural Development Minister came into the picture, saying the name “Kampung Baru” should be retained and a thorough investigation conducted to identify the actual number and status of each resident there. In July, KBDC said in a statement that it will present the Kampung Baru Develop-ment Plan to the Rural Develop-ment Ministry. And now there is the Sept 21 meeting coming up, which Dr M will sit in on.

In my opinion, the following points and questions need to be addressed:

> There are no concrete plans yet but the only options available to landowners is cash or a new apartment – isn’t this a forced land grab? Landowners have not seen the first draft of the new masterplan.

> How to provide a sustainable living if it is a land grab? How to raise the income and quality of life of landowners when there are no other options available? At least consider offering shareholdings in the development company.

> What happened to the willing-buyer, willing-seller proposal?

> Current land prices are depressed and not favourable to landowners, the advantage is to the developer when prices increase later.

> It is a Malay reserve area. Will the gross development value of RM60bil be easily taken up?

> RM10bil is for land acquisition, but how about development costs? Transparency is lacking here – hopefully this plan is not being put forward merely for political mileage.

> Were proper studies done on the environmental, social and traffic impact of the development?

> Who is really responsible for the new plan, DBKL or KBDC?

> Why wasn’t there a MAS (Malay Agriculture Settlement) representative at the Sept 2 briefing?

Kampung Baru is the only sizeable Malay enclave in a city centre in the whole world. Let it be a showcase of the capability of the Malays to develop a large-scale project professionally while abiding by the rule of law.

SALEH MOHAMMED , Kuala Lumpur


   

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