Leave us alone, TTDI residents tell developers

A view of Taman Rimba Kiara.

KUALA LUMPUR: Residents in Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) have voiced disappointment over developers’ plans to put up new apartment buildings in Taman Rimba Kiara (TRK), saying the area has changed significantly over the years.

Nor Aina Kamaruddin, who has lived in TTDI since 1986, initially stayed with her family before moving to Kiara Green, a low-rise apartment next to TRK.

The Kiara Green TTDI residents’ representative said the area was like her “kampung” as she and her siblings had all grown up there.

“My family members, we all live in TTDI. We witnessed the changes of the township, from nothing to what it is today.

“From no high-rise buildings, it now has quite a number of tall buildings. For us residents who have been living here for so long, at some point we feel that it (the construction) needs to stop,” Nor Aina told FMT in an interview.

She was referring to a proposed development which entails the construction of 42- and 54-storey blocks of serviced apartments, as well as a 29-storey affordable apartment for the relocation of TTDI longhouse residents.

“The reason I chose to shift to Kiara Green was because of the park. It was the only place we could get some green and do recreational activities.

“Now, I think Kiara Green needs to be renamed to Kiara ‘Not’ Green, with all the development projects that have crept into areas around us.”

Nor Aina, who was one of the few hundred residents who attended a recent town hall session with Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad, Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh, and Kuala Lumpur mayor Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahlan, said they were disappointed that nothing had come of the meeting.

“With all these high-rise buildings around us, we need this green space.

“It isn’t just for TTDI residents, but also for residents from neighbouring housing areas such as Damansara Utama, Sri Hartamas and Bangsar, even. This park is the nearest green lung for these housing areas.

A parking lot drawn on a main road in Taman Tun Dr Ismail.

“Kiara Green residents today are stuck having to deal with congestion, as we are right in the middle of everything, and it will be worse if the development behind us (in TRK) happens.

“I feel there is a lot of selfishness happening. The minister is not being sensitive.”

She said the minister, during the town hall session, insisted that he had to follow what was stated in the “agreement” but that residents thought otherwise.

“An agreement is something done by humans. If the government really wants to do something, it can.”

It was reported that Khalid had said he could not cancel the development planned at TRK as it would cost Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) a minimum of RM200 million in compensation if the proposed project were to be scrapped.

“TTDI used to be a low-rise township, but in the last 10 to 15 years, many things have changed.

“Staying next to TRK felt like a resort previously. Now, they have put up high walls with painted scenery which block our view of the park. They say it is to block out the noise from the construction. But we don’t want any construction work to be done at all.

“With this mega project going up, we’re worried that there will be some cracks on the houses which are right next to the park,” Nor Aina added.

Mohd Hatim Abdullah, who moved to TTDI in 1984, said he never expected the area to turn into such a congested township.

“I was renting in TTDI back in 1982 before I bought this house. It was within my budget, but I didn’t foresee that TTDI would become what it is today.

“Those days, TTDI was known as the best ‘taman’ in the country. The park (TRK) was like an oxygen tank for this township.

“I was very angry when I heard about this development project. My immediate thought was: ‘Leave TTDI residents alone.’ We have enough development already,” he said, referring to the existing high-rise condominiums which were built despite protests by residents.

Hatim, who stays in the Rahim Kajai area, added that TTDI residents were not against new housing blocks for the longhouse residents who reside next to the park. He said they were against the idea of the massive construction intended to build eight blocks of 50-storey serviced apartments.

“The compensation that they are talking about, the federal territories minister can always take the money from Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan (YWP). I’m sure they can come up with the money needed to pay the developers.

“So many developers have in recent years tried to acquire many plots of land in TTDI, but so far they have been unsuccessful. Even as we are objecting to this project on TRK, there is another condominium being built on Persiaran Zaaba (TTDI Segari),” he said.

He cited several other high-rise residential buildings in TTDI, including The Plaza TTDI, Sinaran TTDI, The Residence and TTDI Ascencia.

“There is one located on Jalan Burhanuddin Helmi, Menara Ken TTDI. Before we protested, that building was supposed to be a 25-storey residential block. After much protest, they cut it down to 12. But that isn’t the point. That building has caused congestion in the area.”

Hatim added that as more high-rise residential buildings are built, the number of vehicles would increase. Even now, he said, there was a lack of parking lots in TTDI.

“We once proposed a multi-storey parking lot, but it was rejected. Instead, they (DBKL) drew lines on the main road to make more parking lots.”

Hatim said the majority of TTDI residents had voted for Pakatan Harapan (PH), hoping that if it formed the government, TRK would be saved from development.

“It is very disappointing that PH is not doing enough to stop this development. Come on, don’t disappoint the people who voted for you,” he said.

Retired professor Abdul Hamid Mohamed, who is in his 70s, also felt there was “one condominium too many in TTDI”.

“Ask any long-staying resident in TTDI, they are all very passionate about our ‘taman’. The big concerns are parking, traffic jams and population density. Some people may say this is part of development, for sure. I don’t deny that. But development should be spread out and not too focused on a certain area.

“Spread out, there is enough space elsewhere. Develop a township elsewhere. TTDI is already over-developed,” said Hamid, who has lived in TTDI since the 1980s.

He added that developers might look at the situation from a business point of view.

“If you conduct a survey out there, how many unsold properties are there? There is a glut. How many shopping malls are there? Too many. And they are still building more.

“On weekends, we residents can’t even get out of TTDI, and on weekdays there is the morning rush. It’s stressful,” he said.

Hamid, who lives in the Medan Athinahapan area, said TTDI was once known as one of the best planned housing areas.

“If you find old pictures, TTDI was one of the best planned ‘tamans’. One department store, a bank, police station and schools, everything was there.

“It was such a lovely place to live in. It became popular, everyone wanted to buy a property here. But today, when my friends say they want to buy property here, I tell them to go elsewhere. TTDI isn’t what it was anymore,” he said.

Overall, Hamid feels that the government should relook township development.

“Those days, the government had good city planners. Where are they? Who plans our city (today)? The city planners or developers?

“What is the role of the city planners? You leave it to the developers, they promise you resort living lah, 12 minutes to the city lah – these are all concepts.

“City planners must look into the number of houses and roads. What we have today is, after a building is done, then only they realise that it causes congestion.

“Development needs to be curbed and controlled at the town planning stage. We have all these Malaysia Plans but does anybody ever look at them?”

Meanwhile, a resident from the Datuk Sulaiman area said there were at least 13 high-rise buildings in TTDI.

“TTDI is so dense as it is. They shouldn’t build anymore. Instead, solve all the congestion and parking problems.

“Just leave us alone. Leave the park alone. The TRK is a good place to unwind, especially for city dwellers,” said the resident who asked to be known only as Chan.

It was reported that in 2016, DBKL approved a housing development by a joint venture between Memang Perkasa and YWP on a 4.86ha land in TRK, which was previously gazetted as a public open space.

The federal territories minister recently said he would set up a joint committee to review the controversial housing development project.