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MPPP challenged to bare all

 | August 8, 2012

MPPP president and a former town planner are at odds on approval of a hillside project.

GEORGE TOWN: It’s finger pointing time at the Penang municipal council (MPPP). A former town planner and the council president are at odds about a hillside project in Telik Kumbar.

Council president Patahiyah Ismail claims that town planner Khoo Boo Soon had supposedly recommended the project in 2009.

Today Khoo challenged Patahiyah to prove her allegation that he had on Dec 1, 2009, recommended to the council’s one-stop-centre committee (OSC) the project which was on a height above 76.2 metres.

Helmed by council president as chairman, OSC consists all heads of technical departments and councillors.

“I had made only technical recommendations with facts for OSC to consider and decide on a project,” said Khoo.

He was MPPP’s town planning department acting director for three months before his premature retirement on medical grounds in March 2010.

Khoo said his recommendations have always been based on his knowledge and experience on existing MPPP guidelines and relevant laws on the behalf of council’s town planning department to the OSC.

“I challenge Patahiyah to name the special project in Teluk Kumbar above 250 feet high that I allegedly recommended and make public its whole planning permission file,” he said.

Khoo was responding to Patahiyah’s claim that he was involved in recommending approvals of planning permissions for special projects located on hill slopes, including one in Teluk Kumbar, during his time as the council senior town planner between 1993 and 2010.

Khoo is an urban planner registered with the Malaysia Institute of Planners (MIP) and a member of Board of Town Planners (BTP).

Conflict over compensation requirment

“Whilst MPPP is surprised at Khoo’s sudden decision to go public against the institution he once worked for, he cannot run away from his own responsibility and refusal to admit the active role played by him,” Patahiyah reportedly said early this week.

Khoo had said last week that the council had powers to reject renewal applications of planning permissions for special projects.

A planning permission, granted under Section 22(3) under the Town and Country Planning Act (TCPA) will lapse after 12 months.

The Penang Structure Plan (PSP) 2020 gazetted on June 28, 2007 allowed a planning permission to be renewed or extended five times or for five years, as compared with previous practice of 12 times.

The council has the power under Section 25 of the TCPA to revoke planning permission granted under Section 22(3).

However, Patahiyah claimed that an order revoking a planning permission required compensation to be paid under Section 25(7) of the TCPA which can burden the council with hundreds of millions of ringgit.

But Khoo rebutted her claims, pointing out that the authorities could be liable for huge compensation only if a project has commenced, been fully or half completed or sold to buyers.

“But not for renewal of planning permission for a project that has not taken off at all,” he noted.

On the special projects mentioned under PSP gazetted in June 2007, Khoo said it shall not be used as an escape clause to approve rezoning of hill land areas under the Land Conservation Act (LCA) 1960.

PSP prohibits any development on high land gazette under the LCA.

Khoo said the special projects clause was not to be used as pre-requisite to grant planning permission for development above 76m or any other hill slope development.


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