Where’s the RM115 million paid by Kiara park developer, ask residents

Residents want Taman Rimba Kiara to be protected and preserved for public use.

KUALA LUMPUR: Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) residents have questioned what became of the land premium received by the government from developers of the Taman Rimba Kiara (TRK) development project.

The residents were referring to the RM115 million worth of land premium and consultancy fees paid to government bodies and Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan (YWP), a joint venture entity of the development project.

According to Save Taman Rimba Kiara working group committee coordinator, Leon Koay, it was learnt that in November 2017, RM115 million was paid by the developer to the government and YWP.

These were statutory payments (land premiums), not development costs.

“Out of the RM115 million, RM60 million was land premium paid to the Federal Territories Director of Lands and Mines Office and RM25 million was paid as contribution to infrastructure funds and development charges – that’s RM85 million.

“Another RM25 million was paid to YWP as a joint venture payment, so that takes the payment to RM110 million. And then about another RM5 million was paid to consultants and contractors.

“So most of the payments were paid to the government and YWP. Technically, if the project is cancelled, if you are not allowing development on the land, the land premium amount should be returned,” he said.

Residents in the vicinity of TRK raised similar questions.

“We all have the same question. If the developer has paid the government the land premium, why can’t the government just return it to the developer?

“What has the government done with the money? If the money has been given to the government, they can just reverse the payment,” said Chan Mei Lynn, 53, who lives in Trellises TTDI, a low-rise apartment.

Back in 2014, YWP, under the purview of the former Barisan Nasional government, entered into 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 TRK land.

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

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

In a town hall conducted with TTDI residents in November, Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad said the government would have to pay the company RM155 million should Malton give up the project.

Khalid added that the TRK land was already in YWP’s possession, and if the government took the case to court, the developer could sue for what it had spent and for loss of profit.

However, in recent reports, Khalid said the compensation amount that would need to be covered by DBKL was closer to RM500 million, including for loss of profit.

Chan said TRK was part of a “green belt” extending from Bukit Kiara, which was what made TTDI special.

“Look at Bukit Kiara and how it has been overdeveloped. We don’t have the same kind of density here.

“The developer started pressuring us (TTDI residents) to agree to allow it to conduct a dilapidation survey (even before the first court hearing started). However, they have not been clear about what they actually want to do.

“They didn’t give us enough time to understand what they want to do, and wanted an immediate answer. They could not even show us any proof of approvals. We said no, not until we meet with the developer.

“Each time the contractors came, we requested for a comprehensive explanation, but they could never provide us with that. So we requested to meet with the developer, but that meeting never took place until today,” said Chan.

On Nov 28, TTDI residents’ bid to overturn the conditional planning permission and development order by DBKL for the high-rise residential project was denied by the High Court.

The judge ruled that DBKL’s decision to issue the development order was not tainted with illegality as to justify intervention by the court.

Chan said the roads in the area could not accommodate a high increase in traffic volume should the mega project be allowed.

“We are looking at an increase of perhaps 4,000 vehicles. There is no way the existing roads in TTDI will be able to accommodate that kind of traffic volume.

“The project will also lead to possible flash floods as rainwater has nowhere to go. How will the trucks and excavators access and exit this area?”

Another resident, Margaret Lee, who lives in Lorong Burhanuddin Helmi 8, said it felt as though the government was siding with the developers.

“The government should be acting on our behalf, as citizens of the country. They should be helping us solve our problems.

“All the arguments that have been presented do not sound like the government is interested in helping us save the park,” said Lee.

Meanwhile, TTDI residents’ association chairman Hafiz Abu Bakar questioned Khalid’s assertion that DBKL would need to pay RM500 million in compensation should the project be cancelled.

“Where did he get that figure? He keeps saying that there is a loss of profit. There is no such thing, as there is no sales permit (yet) for the project.

“We question the minister’s assertion of that amount,” he said.

Hafiz added that the residents were standing firm on their request for the government to protect the public space that was initially gazetted for public use.

“You don’t just take away a public facility and replace it with a commercial project. If this happens to this park, what is there to stop this from happening to all the other parks in the Klang Valley?

“The public space was meant for the public, and the government should respect that. Taking away a public space is disrespectful, and they must remember that it was the public who voted for them in the recent general election,” he said.