KL local plan: Listen to Nik Nazmi

The federal territories’ minister and DBKL under the Pakatan Harapan government should heed Nik Nazmi’s advice for the sake of KL residents.

This will help restore some confidence in the administration of Kuala Lumpur.

Nik Nazmi was perfectly correct in his strong caution against back door local plan amendments by certain parties to escape the KL local plan being binding on them.

Nik Nazmi highlighted a surge in applications being filed and rushed through pending gazetting of the KL local plan, many of which are totally inconsistent with the draft KL plan. The federal territories’ minister should be slow to rely on information he receives from DBKL or his ministry alone without independently verifying the information, studying the legal and compliance governance framework and obtaining advice by qualified impartial experts lest he be taken for a ride by people who were part of an abusive system in Planning and Development control in Kuala Lumpur where abuses have been highlighted in numerous cases by resident groups.

These cases involve more than nine years of abuse of power in granting development orders inconsistent with the draft KL plan after it had gone through a public objection process by an independent panel led by Halimaton Saadiah Hashi at public hearings. This panel, after hearing hundreds of objectors, had made its decision and recommendations to the draft KL plan which under the law requires the then minister to act upon within reasonable time.

Regrettably, the then minister in violation of the law refused to pass or act on the plan and instead allowed DBKL to continue to give ad-hoc approvals under Rule 5 of the relevant planning rules. These approvals in many cases were totally inconsistent with the decision of the hearing committee and the original draft KL plan as shown to the public.

The present minister should be slow to accept the argument that the plan must be updated. This is because every time DBKL approves a development which is inconsistent with the draft that was displayed to the public and had gone through the statutory process, DBKL will just ‘recolour ” the draft KL plan and claim it has been updated without it having gone through the public objection process in accordance with the law.

In this way, “back door ” amendments to the draft KL plan as approved by the hearing committee are circumventing the proper provisions under the law for local plan amendments.

Such action may amount to an abuse of power and attempt to ‘cover up’ abuses of the past. The government must hold to account all officers and former Ministers who participated and encouraged this fiasco to bypass the basic right of KL residents to have a local plan to control planning development in the city.

The first policy step to address Nik Nazmi’s concern is to reject any application summarily as provided under the rules where that application is inconsistent with the original draft local plan. Next, the original plan must be passed immediately as it went through the public hearing process regardless of any development order issued subsequently.

There is only one KL draft plan and there is no such thing as an updated plan or addendum as these are fictions created to justify abuses.

It matters not that buildings have been built. Those matters can be dealt with a proper statutory amendment to the gazetted local plan as provided in the law in which case mitigation measures will have to be proposed by DBKL after admitting to the mistake and abuses in approving plans inconsistent with the draft.

The culprits who ordered this should be named. At stake here is more than just the KL local plan but whether this new government is willing to correct and address the injustices of the past or is it just the same wine in a different bottle? In this regard, Nik Nazmi’s timely comment must be commended.

Derek Fernandez is a local government expert.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.