Residents slam DBKL over plan to appeal Taman Tiara Titiwangsa court decision

(From left) David Samuel, Sylvester Navaratnam and LS Leonard at the meeting of residents’ associations in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

KUALA LUMPUR: Several residents’ associations (RAs) are up in arms over Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s (DBKL) attempt to file an application for leave at the Federal Court to challenge a Court of Appeal decision in a case pertaining to Taman Tiara Titiwangsa.

DBKL is appealing against the decision of the Court of Appeal on March 13 declaring a public objection hearing conducted with Taman Tiara Titiwangsa residents null and void.

According to lawyer LS Leonard, who is representing Taman Tiara Titiwangsa RA, the Court of Appeal had ruled that the residents should have been allowed to obtain the documents even if the law did not require DBKL to do so.

“But now, they (DBKL) are going further to fight the residents. They are going to the Federal Court to challenge the Court of Appeal’s decision.

“This is the extent DBKL is willing to go to maintain their position of not wanting to provide documents for the public hearing, and to maintain their stand that DBKL can be represented in YWP (Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan),” he said at a meeting with the RAs at the Bukit Bandaraya Community Centre yesterday.

YWP owns the land

Lawyer David Samuel, who also represents Taman Tiara Titiwangsa RA, said DBKL had argued that under the Federal Territories Act, it did not have to provide the residents with the documents.

“But there is such a thing as ‘rules of natural justice’ and DBKL must abide by them.

“So even if Rule 5 (of the Federal Territory Planning Act 1982) does not require them to provide the documents, they should provide them to facilitate the objection process,” he said.

David pointed out that under Rule 5, DBKL must be satisfied that the project was viable.

“This means they have to produce all the reports and only then can they call for a public hearing.

“When we asked them about the documents, they said they were not ready yet, so why did they call for a public hearing?”

Apart from finding that DBKL had not furnished the residents with the documents, the Court of Appeal had agreed that there was an element of bias because the Kuala Lumpur mayor, who is the decision maker of the project, also sits as the director and trustee of YWP, the land owner.

Following the decision, Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad said there would be a new public hearing.

At the same time. he said it was normal for DBKL officers to sit on the YWP board to handle the foundation’s projects.

A spokesman for the Taman Tiara Titiwangsa residents, Sylvester Navaratnam, said he was disappointed by the decision taken by the authorities to go against the residents.

“This shows that they are no different from the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government.

“I remember some of the MPs, who even went as far as filing a case to challenge YWP’s right to collect parking fees for DBKL. What happened to them? Why have they gone quiet?” he asked.

Lawyer and planning and local government expert Derek Fernandez said there was a growing lack of confidence by the urban community against the leadership of the Federal Territory.

“One of the reasons is the betrayal by PH of its manifesto to democratise its local government.

“Apart from rejecting local government elections for a variety of unsubstantiated reasons, the minimum democratisation is public participation in the decision-making processes,” he said.

Derek said that one could blame the Barisan Nasional for the lapses during their previous administration.

“But despite the Court of Appeal telling them that there is conflict of interest, the present administration wants to appeal the decision.

“This means they are not interested in giving the documents,” he said.

He also pointed out that the Federal Territories Ministry had failed the people by gazetting the Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020 despite 273 items pertaining to developments which have been issued development orders not shown to the public.

“There is nothing you can do about those 273 items, as they have been included in the plan.

“These were not shown to the public before the plan was gazetted and that is not right,” he said.

Residents at Taman Tiara Titiwangsa had gone to court to get it to nullify the objection hearing held by DBKL last year over the plan to construct three high-rise towers there.

The residents cited grounds that they were unable to present their case in a “meaningful” way under Rule 5 of the Federal Territory Planning Act 1982, which allows public participation in areas of planning and development control.

Yesterday’s meeting was also attended by the Save Kuala Lumpur coalition and the residents’ associations of Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Taman Desa and Bukit Kiara Longhouse.