Taman Rimba Kiara: It’s a question of political will, says group

TTDI residents and others who frequent Taman Rimba Kiara have been urging the government to preserve the open space. (File pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: A civil society group has voiced its continued commitment to preserving Taman Rimba Kiara (TRK) as an open space despite Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad’s explanation that documents signed by former minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor and a developer are legal and binding.

Save Taman Rimba Kiara (STRK) coordinator Leon Koay said it was a question of political will.

“It can be legal, but it may not be right.

“What is the right thing to do here? We have offered our opinions, that the right thing to do is to preserve TRK. We need to correct what was done wrong previously.

“It may be difficult, but we are offering to work together. Let us try to do that,” he said.

Koay said the area was not set up to be a commercial development or for high density development.

“Absolutely (we will fight to keep TRK as an open space). It is part of the original Bukit Kiara, which was acquired for public purposes.

“It should never have been allowed to be developed. So let us fix the wrong that has been done in the past.

“It is not easy, we understand that, but let us work on it. Malaysia Baru style,” he said after a townhall session attended by some 500 Taman Tun Dr Ismail residents here last night.

Also present were Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad, Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh and KL mayor Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahlan.

TTDI residents have been campaigning to save Taman Rimba Kiara from development and are up in arms over the recently gazetted Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020, which shows that the park has been rezoned with the possibility for future development.

Back in 2014, the Federal Territories Foundation (YWP), under the purview of the former Barisan Nasional government, entered a joint venture with Memang Perkasa Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Malton Bhd, to build a mega project on 12 acres of the 25-acre Taman Rimba Kiara land.

The mega project involves the construction of a block of 350 units of affordable housing for the Bukit Kiara longhouse community, and eight blocks of 50-storey high-end condominiums (1,800 units) at a total gross development value of at least RM3 billion.

The Kuala Lumpur City Hall issued a development order for the mega project on July 13, 2017, despite massive objections from the TTDI community.

On the next course of action, Koay said a joint working committee on the matter has been proposed, and they would take it from there.

Koay said the government had shown that when they felt the need to do the right thing in the interest of the public, they would do it.

“For instance, they took on MMC-Gamuda, and they cancelled the contract (for the MRT2 underground project). In the end, they got a better price, and saved money for the public.

“It takes political will. We know Khalid is relatively new in the role. Let us try and work together and generate a decent result,” he said.

Khalid said the 12-acre park had been rezoned from open space to mixed development in 2013, and had been alienated to the Federal Territories Foundation (YWP), a welfare arm of the ministry.

He said the ministry then had to pay a land premium of RM60 million.

“There is an agreement. When Leon and the people ask why do we still go on with Ku Nan’s plan, it is simple. It is because we have agreements which are formal, official and binding,” the minister said.

In August last year, TTDI residents had taken the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and the mayor to court to challenge the council’s decision in developing housing projects at Taman Rimba Kiara.

They sought a court order to revoke the conditional planning permission and a developer’s order for the developer, Memang Perkasa.

They also wanted the court to suspend the development projects pending disposal of their case.

The next scheduled court hearing dates, according to Koay, are on Nov 28 and 29, as well as Dec 3 and 4. However, he raised the question of whether it was necessary to face off in court with the government that they had voted in, six months after the 14th general election.

Yeoh last night sought an agreement from DBKL and YWP, to say that the matter is pending resolution out of court.

“Otherwise, the TTDI residents association will once again be left standing alone in court.

“We need the authorities to respond accordingly,” she said.

In her opening remarks, Yeoh, who is also deputy women, family and community development minister, appealed to Khalid to build the homes promised to the 98 Bukit Kiara longhouse settlers.

“They have been promised this for a long time. Many of their houses are old and dilapidated. They deserve new housing.

“I also asked for the development order (DO) given to Memang Perkasa to be revoked, and as the chairman of YWP, to return the alienated land to the government and have TRK preserved and gazetted as an open space,” she added.