August 18, 2008

Ban stays

Class 3 hillside development is not allowed in Selangor




THE Selangor Government will not rescind its earlier decision to ban Class 3 hillside development.  State local government committee chairman Ronnie Liu, responding to a newspaper report on Thursday, said they would not bow to pressures from developers or any quarters to approve such development.  He said the report had no basis and there was no truth in claims that Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim was keen to revert the state’s firm stand against the hillside development.


“We will not bow to pressure from any parties as the state government’s policy is aimed at protecting the interests of the public.  “There is no change in our policy on hillside development and we are serious about it,’’ he told StarMetro.

Banning hillside developments was among some the landmark decisions made by the Pakatan Rakyat state government soon after defeating the Barisan Nasional in Selangor in the general election in March.  Liu said they were also organising talks between residents, Real Estate and Housing Development Association (Rehda) and the government authorities to hear grievances from the public on development.

He said this was aimed at providing more opportunity for the public to air their views and complaints.  “We are elected by the people and our decisions will always protect the rakyat,’’ he added.  It was reported earlier that approval would no longer be given in the state for hillside development projects involving Class 3 and Class 4 slopes.

(Class 3 slopes are those with a gradient of 25 degrees while Class 4 slopes are 35 degrees and above.)

Khalid had also directed state executive councillor Ronnie Liu to summon the relevant municipal and district council representatives as well as residents protesting against hillside projects to discuss the problems and issues at hand.  He added that he and exco member in charge of housing, building management and squatters Iskandar Abdul Samad would be meeting Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Ong Ka Chuan to seek a solution to the problem.  “The house buyers have come to us asking the state government to settle the problem. We will support them but their problem can only be settled if we have the support and cooperation of the Federal Government,” said Khalid.


Residents don’t want change

by Terence Fernandez

The SUN MONDAY 18 AUG 2008



Though the Selangor government says that the ban on hillside development stays, the fact that it is willing to meet developers who want the policy reversed has unnerved taxpayers.  And the fact that all stakeholders are not consulted or present when developers argue their case is causing concern that it would be back to the days when decisions were not transparent. 


DAP assemblyman for Bukit Gasing, Edward Lee, particularly, feels aggrieved as he campaigned on the platform that hillside development be banned.  “I was voted in based largely on this premise, and judging from what was disclosed in theSun, I am very upset that I was not even consulted about this attempt to compromise on this policy,” he told theSun yesterday at a meeting with 20 residents’ representatives from Ampang and Petaling Jaya.  Also present were Petaling Jaya City Council councillors Derek Fernandez, K.W. Mak and S. Ramakrishnan.  Lee was responding to Thursday’s front page report that developers, through the intercession of executive councillors Ronnie Liu and Teresa Kok, have sought a meeting with Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim to reverse the policy.


Liu had reasoned that the developers are gravely affected by the ban on all development above 26° gradient as they cannot develop large swathes of land which they own due to this ruling — implemented four months ago upon Selangor falling to the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition of PKR, PAS and DAP.  “We were elected on this ticket and a promise of an open and transparent government. Even the intent of going back on our word four months down the road is unfair to the people, and is political suicide,” Lee added. 


Fernandez refutes the developers’ argument that they would lose out if they are prevented from building houses on such land.  “Instead of supporting them, Ronnie and Teresa should ask them how they acquired hillslope land in the first place.  “The process of alienating land on hills and hillslopes is highly suspect and the state government should not entertain them at all. Come on!  They want to cut hills and whatever technology they use, will not be able to counter the environmental side effects,” he said.


There was nothing wrong in developers meeting State authorities, Fernandez said, to discuss specific problems but not to change a policy.  But the state, he added, cannot change policies overnight.  “Even if there is going to be a change, the stakeholders must be consulted and the whole process must be open. Wasn’t this what they promised of – transparency and accountability in the run-up to the elections?” he asked.  “It does not give the impression of impartiality when a profit-based private organisation tries to use two excos to break a policy,” he said, adding that the state government will be held accountable if it goes back on its word.


Condominium, Apartment and High Rise Committee chairman and deputy president of the All-Petaling Jaya Selangor Residents Associations Coalition Tengku Nazaruddin Tengku Zainuddin said the people are understandably edgy over these latest attempts by developers to reverse a government policy, judging by the numerous issues in the Klang Valley involving hillside development.  “There must be no compromise on this matter,” he said, adding that those entrusted with the people’s well-being should not bend over backwards especially when it involves safety. I am very upset that I was not even consulted about this attempt to compromise on this policy” Edward Lee, DAP assemblyman for Bukit Gasing.




Press statement

by Teresa Kok

Selangor state senior exco on 18th August 2008

The Accusation That The Selangor Government Intends To Reverse Policy On The Ban On Hill Slope Development Is Fictitious

The news report published by The Sun on 14th August 2008 with the title of “Hillslope policy to be reversed?” written by Nadeswaran and Terence Fernandez and the article written by The Sun’s journalist Nadeswaran under the title of “Business as usual on the hills” on 15th August 2008 are  misleading and examples of irresponsible journalism.

I am protesting against the first news report which implicated YB Ronnie Liu and me for trying to push the state government to rescind our decision on the ban on hillslope development. The said article also mentioned that the Menteri Besar met with Rehda at my insistence, and “Abdul Khalid is not in favour of meeting the developers but sources say Kok and Liu coaxed him into it”.         

The fact is, there has been a meeting between Menteri Besar and excos with Rehda on 25th July 2008. The meeting was requested by Rehda and it was agreed by the Menteri Besar in the exco meeting. As such the accusation in The Sun’s report is misleading, mischevious, fatally flawed and untrue.  It is in fact very malicious for the writers to put such lines in their report as they are subjective and based on hearsay from unnamed sources.

Ever since the Pakatan Rakyat came to power in Selangor, the state excos and MB have had series of meetings with various groups, including various business organizations. Selangor is business-friendly and people-friendly because both groups can co-exist and need each other.

The meeting between the MB, the Exco and Rehda on 25th July 2008 was the first meeting after we came into power. Rehda’s representatives raised a series of problems facing them and hillslope development was only one in the list and not the only issue on that day. The way the two writers of The Sun singled out hillslope development as the only issue that was “lobbied” by Rehda via Ronnie Liu and me is absolutely not true.    

The conclusion of the dialogue between the MB and Rehda is that we will initiate a dialogue between NGOs and Rehda on hillslope development, so that both sides can understand each other’s position better.  Neither the MB nor any exco has ever come out with statement that said there might be a reverse on the ban on hillslope development whether privately or publicly.

As the two articles have created confusion and misunderstanding among residents and some NGOs on the issue, some NGOs have come out to protest against the “decision” yesterday.

This statement is to clarify the real situation and position of the Selangor government.

I also wish to voice my protest and utter disappointment the misleading message that has been sent out from the two articles written by both Nadeswaran and Terence Fernandez of The Sun. I am very disappointed with the way Nadeswaran repeating the lie in his second article titled “Business as usual on the hills” on 15th August 2008 after I have clarified with Nadeswaran.

I can only presume, rightly or otherwise, both Nadeswaran and Terence Fernandez are very environmentally conscious and they want to pre-empt imaginary moves by the Selangor government to reverse the ban on hillslope development policy.  

While we support the writers’ freedom of expression, they should also learn to be fair, just and responsible in their writing, and should refrain from cooking up fairytales about the Selangor government.

Teresa Kok