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FT Council Urged To Prevent Backdoor Development In KL

Setiawangsa MP Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad has called for swift action by the new Federal Territories Ministerial Council to prevent developers from exploiting the window of time before the Kuala Lumpur Draft Plan 2020 is gazetted later this year.

He said failing to ensure that development projects were not quietly approved before the draft plan was gazetted would see some developers pushing forward their projects despite objections by residents in the city.

“There are several disputed developments across the city including in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Cheras, Taman Desa and Taman Tiara Titiwangsa which are still not resolved.

“The danger is that developers, having invested substantial resources in these developments, may go ahead and seek approval from the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) despite objections from residents in these areas.”

He voiced concern that without a gazetted city plan in place, DBKL would claim the draft local plan was being updated without going through the public objection process when approving developments inconsistent with the draft.

This would suppress the public’s right to be heard and could lead to abuse of power, he added.

“DBKL’s planning department needs to be held to account.”

The council was set up with Kuala Lumpur MPs on board to oversee policies and the development of the national capital. It came a month after the federal government told DBKL to halt the meetings of its board of advisers, half of whom comprised Barisan Nasional politicians.

On July 4, Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad in a written reply to Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil said the draft plan would be gazetted by the end of the year.

He said the delay was due to DBKL having to update its data from 2016 to 2018 before the plan could be gazetted.

Nik Nazmi said he had received complaints from residents in his constituency of developers advertising properties despite not having secured a Development Order (DO).

“In fact, one developer in Taman Tiara Titiwangsa has opened a grand showroom and is compiling details of prospective buyers, even going so far as to reassure them that they would ‘most likely’ secure approval in September,” he added.

“On the surface, this means that developers will push to secure the DO despite the objections of residents in the area who are appealing against the development and, at worst, it could be seen as DBKL working with developers to secure approval before the plan is gazetted.”

The development in question has been opposed by residents of the area who sought to nullify the objection hearing held by DBKL last year, citing concerns that they were unable to present their case in a meaningful way.

They succeeded in obtaining an interim stay until Sept 24, pending a judicial review on the dismissal of their objection at the High Court.

R Thanasegar, the lawyer representing the residents, said they had expressed concerns over the possibility of the project being bulldozed through without them having a fair chance to object.

The Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2020 was gazetted in 2004 with a more detailed draft plan launched in 2008. This received feedback and consultation from the public but has yet to be gazetted.

The issue became a major campaign promise by Pakatan Harapan, with Khalid being empowered to immediately authorise the draft plan.

Residents previously raised objections over the Barisan Nasional government’s failure to gazette the plan.

They complained that the lack of a gazetted city plan had allowed the authorities and development firms a free hand to change the use of land designated as green lungs or for public works to high density developments, often without proper impact assessments.

Kuala Lumpur mayor Mohd Amin Nordin Abd Aziz revealed in June that RM1 billion in development projects was scrapped following consultation with the Council of Eminent Persons.

Former federal territories minister Tengku Adnan Mansor was alleged to have granted some of these developments to the Federal Territories Foundation.

The foundation is an organisation registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia as a commercial entity whose board members include Tengku Adnan and Mohd Amin.

In May, Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh and Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng lodged complaints with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption over what they claimed were “shady land transfers” under Tengku Adnan’s watch.

The 64 plots of land, totalling some 424.29 acres, were reportedly sold for a total value of RM4.28 billion.