Ambiga, Fernandez question RM150 mil compensation for Taman Rimba Kiara project

Ambiga Sreenevasan and Derek Fernandez say they are alarmed over two suggestions arising from Khalid’s Samad’s statement over the disputed project recently.

KUALA LUMPUR: Ambiga Sreenevasan and lawyer Derek Fernandez today questioned the accuracy of the RM150 million compensation figure given by Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad if the Taman Rimba Kiara development is to be cancelled.

Saying the figure was “unlikely to be anywhere near RM150 million”, they suggested that the minister do his homework and get proper legal advice on the issue.

Their skepticism of the figure comes on the heels of a statement by Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh yesterday that the RM150 million compensation appeared to be “an imaginary” figure and needed to be supported by evidence such as receipts. The proposed project is located in her constituency.

Ambiga and Fernandez also urged the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to “urgently proceed with investigations into Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan and its establishment and the irregular dealings in relation to this land, which the Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) has found to be in conflict of interest”.

Ambiga Sreenevasan.

In a statement today Ambiga, a former president of the National Human Rights Society or Hakam, and Fernandez, a Petaling Jaya City Councillor, said they were alarmed over two suggestions arising from Khalid’s statement over the disputed project recently.

They said Khalid had suggested the compensation payable to the developer if the project were to be cancelled would be in the region of RM150 million and that it was reasonable to proceed with the construction.

“It is our view that the federal territories minister and the Cabinet ought to take proper, independent legal advice on the matter and review the whole process involved in this development.”

Ambiga and Fernandez said where a contract was found to be tainted by illegality, the so called “binding contracts” could be set aside, the Development Order revoked and the project terminated.

“It would then be arguable that any developer involved in such illegality is not entitled to any compensation for its termination on the grounds of public policy.”

They said the relevant Development Order issued by the minister for the project did not accord with the 2013 Draft KL City Plan where Bukit Kiara was zoned as a park with no changes.

They also noted that the gazetting of the 2018 KL City Plan was not legal as it violated the law and had included unilateral changes to the Bukit Kiara Park without displaying the same for public hearing, in accordance with the law.

Derek Fernandez.

“The only compensation payable in the event of termination (subject to any allegations of illegality being proven) and where the land is undeveloped, is the actual expenditure incurred as stated in section 25(6) of the Federal Territory (Planning) Act 1982. This would involve the purchase price paid for the land, the land premium and other expenses, all of which must be supported by receipts or proof of payment for the alleged expenditure. This is unlikely to be anywhere near RM150 million.”

They urged Khalid to revisit the 2018 KL City Plan and carry out the required legal process of consultation before proceeding to implement it.

“The minister must resolve the conflict of interest that arises due to his position as minister, having oversight over planning and development control in DBKL (Kuala Lumpur City Hall) and being the chairperson of Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan, which is involved with development projects.

“We trust that the Pakatan Harapan government will pay heed to the grossly improper manner in which this project was earlier awarded and will, as promised, uphold the legitimate wishes and rights of the people in this regard. Above all, the Cabinet must make its decision based on all the facts and on advice on the correct position in law.”

On March 24, in saying that the long-running tussle over Taman Rimba Kiara at Taman Tun Dr Ismail might be decided by the Cabinet next month, Khalid had added that more than RM150 million in compensation must be paid to the developer of the proposed housing scheme if it were to be cancelled.

Local residents have protested against plans for the construction of 350 units of affordable homes and eight blocks of 50-storey condominium apartments on a 4.8 hectare plot of land there. The residents say that Taman Rimba Kiara is one of the last remaining green lungs in the capital city.