Titiwangsa court ruling applies to Kiara, says group

Residents have challenged the proposal for a development project in Taman Rimba Kiara, Kuala Lumpur.

PETALING JAYA: The group opposed to a development project at a popular recreation park in Kuala Lumpur has welcomed the recent court judgment to stop a public hearing for a high-density project on government land, saying there are strikingly similar issues of conflict of interest in the Taman Rimba Kiara controversy.

On Wednesday, the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of residents of Taman Tiara Titiwangsa, nullifying a public objection hearing held by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) last year on a plan to build three high-rise towers there.

The court said there was an element of bias because the mayor, who is the decision-maker, also sits as a director and trustee of the landowner, the Federal Territories Foundation (YWP), which is linked to the federal territories ministry.

Save Taman Rimba Kiara (STRK) said the decision is relevant and applicable to the Taman Rimba Kiara case, where surrounding residents and environmentalists have challenged the authorities over a proposal to build several high-rise apartments and affordable homes.

“The Court of Appeal decision highlights the conflict of interest arising from the former FT minister and former mayor’s involvement in YWP,” said STRK committee member Leon Koay.

“The landowner in the Taman Rimba Kiara case is YWP, and the decision-making power for approval of the project rests with the KL mayor,” he told FMT, adding that current Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad should study the latest ruling.

Khalid previously said it was normal for government agencies to handle YWP-related matters so that projects can be better monitored by government officers.

Koay said conflict of interest was at the heart of Taman Tiara Titiwangsa’s case.

Similarly, he said, a development order was not lawfully issued for the Taman Rimba Kiara project.

He added that the public hearing on Taman Rimba Kiara in August 2016 had been badly conducted.

“The traffic impact assessment was never made available to the residents. The entire traffic management plan was never made available.

“We only saw the traffic impact assessment a year and a half later, after the development order was issued and only because we sued DBKL,” he said.

Critics have claimed that they were unable to present their case in a “meaningful” way under Rule 5 of the Federal Territory Planning Act 1982, which is designed to allow public participation in city-planning.

Koay said residents had challenged both the Rule 5 hearing and conflict of interest elements in court.

Their appeal will be heard by the Court of Appeal.

“We will be highlighting the Court of Appeal judgment (on Taman Tiara Titiwangsa) in our case as well,” Koay added.