Stop using longhouse community as your excuse, residents tell YWP

The longhouses at Bukit Kiara.

PETALING JAYA: Longhouse residents at the centre of a dispute over a controversial development in Taman Rimba Kiara have rebutted a statement made by Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan (YWP) CEO Zaizalnizam Zainun.

Bukit Kiara Longhouse Residents Association’s (RA) secretary Sivakumar Muniandy, in addressing the claims, urged the foundation to stop using the longhouse residents as its excuse to bulldoze through a proposed highrise project on the park.

YWP owns the land near Taman Rimba Kiara on which the development project has been proposed.

Sivakumar, in his statement, maintained that YWP’s plans “definitely encroach” into the existing Taman Rimba Kiara forest park.

“We have lived in the longhouse for decades and we know the surrounding area well.

“Our question is this: Why does YWP need to use six acres to build so many luxury condominiums and then separate us into a one-acre plot inside Taman Rimba Kiara.

“Why can’t we be part of an integrated development on the existing four acres of the longhouse area? Isn’t that a better solution for the longhouse community?”

Zaizalnizam, in his statement yesterday, had asserted that there was no encroachment into the park.

He said the YWP and the developer had reached a compromise and agreed to scale down the proposed development to only eight acres (3.2ha) from 12 acres and return the 4 acres remaining land to be gazetted as an open space, together with the existing 13.0 acres not included in the development proposal.

“This means a total of 17.0 acres of the green portion of Taman Rimba Kiara remains untouched for the public.

“Hence, the public at large will continue to enjoy the park they love,” Zaizalnizam had said.

Recognised residents’ association

Sivakumar reminded YWP that it had entered into an agreement with the Bukit Kiara Longhouse RA, dispelling Zaizalnizam’s claims that the Bukit Kiara Public Housing Residents Association was the only recognised RA for the longhouses.

Sivakumar said during the tenure of former federal territories minister Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin, the foundation had entered into an agreement with the RA and a developer called Damai Kiaramas for the resettlement of the longhouse community.

“The CEO of YWP at that time was Datuk Roslan Hassan and Zaizalnizam worked for Datuk Roslan. This agreement was cancelled by Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor when he took over as federal territories minister after the 13th general election.

“The YWP CEO has conveniently avoided acknowledging that YWP fully recognised and entered into an agreement with our RA in the past.

“Ministers and CEOs may continue changing, but we have had to live here in the longhouses for decades.

“We know how many promises have been made by the FT ministry, DBKL (Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur) and YWP and whether they were fulfilled over the years,” he said.

Sivakumar then rebutted Zaizalnizam’s claims that the RA led by Sunderam Vadiveloo had held their annual general meeting on March 31 with full attendance from the longhouse community.

Saying that Zaizalnizam has been misinformed, Sivakumar said the RA led by Sunderam had refused membership for a majority of the 500 residents who live in the longhouses.

“Forty were allowed into the AGM. Another 60 residents were denied participation in the AGM. The AGM was poorly attended and it was badly handled.

“A total of 20 people out of 500 longhouse residents voted for Sunderam to continue as head at the AGM. Is this truly representative of the longhouse community?”

Sivakumar said the CEO was disrespectful of the larger community of 500 residents who live in the longhouses, stressing that the Bukit Kiara Longhouse RA is a validly registered and functioning residents association within the longhouse area.

“Many of our members are the current breadwinners of the longhouse families. We are the ones who have to pay the rent to DBKL every month for the wooden longhouses that our families live in.

“As and when our families actually move to whatever permanent housing that is given, we are the ones who will have to pay for the service and maintenance charges for the apartment units.

“We are entitled to have a voice in what is happening. The YWP CEO is living in denial if he thinks that he can just ignore our views,” he said.

Sivakumar further questioned what had become of the joint working committee, which comprised current Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad and Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh, as well as both RAs and the Rukun Tetangga Rumah Panjang.

“Both Khalid and Yeoh, in their wisdom have recognised that a broader consensus among the affected communities is required to ensure this rehousing exercise is implemented properly.

“But there has been only one meeting so far. Is YWP afraid of participating in a mutual resolution process?” he queried, referring to the meeting held last Dec 17.

Zaizalnizam had, in his statement, said the Pertubuhan Penduduk Perumahan Awam Bukit Kiara is a registered RA for the Bukit Kiara longhouse community since 2003 and is the only RA endorsed by DBKL.

“All the longhouse units are registered as ‘rumah awam’ under DBKL. Each of the rightful owners, namely the first generation, registered their names and have a yellow card issued by DBKL.

“Thus, being the recognised RA representing the interests of the Bukit Kiara longhouse community, Pertubuhan Penduduk Perumahan Awam Bukit Kiara had signed the agreement with YWP in 2015,” he said.

Referring to the Bukit Kiara Longhouse RA’s recent 16th AGM on March 31, Zaizlnizam claimed the meeting had full attendance from the longhouse community, accompanied by an independent body to ensure transparent voting process.

“Once again, Sunderam Vadiveloo has been elected as the president for the endorsed RA.

“Hence, YWP will continue to communicate with the rightful person representing the Bukit Kiara longhouse settlers’ rights and needs.”

He added under the agreement, the first generation of each family, namely the rightful owner, will be given one unit of the affordable apartment for free.

“Another 100 units of apartments will be allocated for the second generation, mainly to the person nominated by the first generation, to purchase at a 50% discounted rate,” said Zaizalnizam.

Yesterday, Khalid had defended a proposal to scale down the Taman Rimba Kiara development project, after it was criticised by DAP’s Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh, who said it was no different from the original project promoted by his predecessor.

The revised plan would see the construction of four condominium blocks, instead of the original eight, and the height of the buildings will be decreased from 50 storeys to 45.

The federal territories minister questioned Yeoh’s claim that the changes were nominal.