Nothing’s changed, says expert after DBKL appeals court decision favouring residents

DBKL is now appealing a decision of the Court of Appeal which held that residents have a right to documents related to a development project.

PETALING JAYA: A local government expert has slammed the Federal Territories ministry and City Hall (DBKL) over the latter’s decision to appeal a court’s decision that would grant Taman Tiara Titiwangsa residents access to important documents.

Derek Fernandez said prior to the May 9 polls, Pakatan Harapan MPs in Kuala Lumpur attacked the Barisan Nasional (BN) and the former FT minister after residents were denied access to critical reports and documents, such as the development impact proposal report and the traffic impact assessment report, among others.

He said this led to KL MPs and many KL residents to claim that they were denied a fair hearing when objecting to development projects.

Fernandez said subsequently, many KL MPs promised residents in the capital that if PH won, they would uphold principles that were “essential to competency, accountability and transparency”.

“This is the mantra PH repeatedly chanted when in the opposition, with their war cry of ‘Reformasi’ and ‘Ubah’ in governance,” he said in a statement.

Derek Fernandez.

But DBKL, Fernandez said, is now appealing a decision of the Court of Appeal which held that residents have a right to such documents which were denied to them during the BN administration because of abuses by the previous administration.

“This shows clearly to KL residents that nothing has really changed and it is business as usual as far as the Federal Territories ministry and DBKL is concerned.”

On March 13, the Court of Appeal nullified a public objection hearing on a high-density project in Taman Tiara Titiwangsa awarded to Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan (YWP).

The court accepted the residents’ argument 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.

The residents said DBKL failed to give a detailed explanation of the project and did not meet their request for disclosure of technical reports such as those related to the project’s impact on traffic flow and social well-being.

Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad has since defended the DBKL decision to take the matter to the Federal Court, saying it was a legal dispute.

“This is not a question of politics. DBKL will still need to follow the legal procedures,” he was reported to have said.