Taman Rimba Kiara and Kampung Baru: A tale of 2 projects

Two months ago, I wrote about a “tale of two tamans”, one with good community engagement and the other encroaching into a park. Now, I would like to discuss a tale of two projects: the controversial development at Taman Rimba Kiara (TRK) and the redevelopment of Kampung Baru (KB).

Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) residents are not happy with TRK. For KB, on the other hand, it seems the majority are not happy with the offer – the response so far has been less than 40% and more questions have been raised since then.

Following protests by TTDI residents, the gross development value (GDV) of TRK was slashed by half from its initial value of RM3 billion. Similarly, within a few months, the GDV for KB dropped by half to RM30 billion.

Engagements with stakeholders for TRK was minimal – the same can be said for KB. This is all the more critical since it was only last week that the proposal “mendapat perkenan” from the Selangor sultan.

However, the sultan emphasised the importance of preserving the original value of the area and its historical significance.

How is it possible that an offer was made to KB residents before obtaining “perkenan”? The original landowners in KB received the land as a gift from the late grandfather of the sultan.

For KB, the offer is a form of coercion since it is illogical to expect 100% acceptance. It is alarming to note the minister’s statement that, as a last resort, the government might make a compulsory acquisition of the land under the Land Acquisition Act.

There must be a choice. For TRK, if there had been a choice, the case would not have gone to the Court of Appeal. At the appeal hearing on Nov 22, the court fixed a full hearing on TRK on Jan 15, 2020. The court heard a preliminary issue and about the possible approval from the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) of a reduced scope of development.

Again, how is it possible for DBKL to approve the reduced scope when the case is still pending in court?

Back to KB. I am of the view that there will be no compulsory acquisition since the process would trigger court cases from unhappy landowners. It would be too costly. Even for a relatively small project at TRK, DBKL engaged the distinguished Gopal Sri Ram as counsel for the case. It would also be time-consuming.

Meantime, TTDI residents are still waiting with bated breath for an update from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on the multiple reports sent since before Pakatan Harapan took over the government. I wonder what is taking them so long to provide a simple update.

Even if the redevelopment in KB is for political purposes, the constituency where KB is in already has sufficient Malay votes – Titiwangsa had 70.5% Malay voters in GE14.

I guess the two main differences between TRK and KB are that the latter will come with improved infrastructure while the former will come with minimal improvement in infrastructure.

“The problem with comparison is that you always feel either better than someone else or worthless compared to someone else.” – Dillon Burroughs

What say you?

Saleh Mohammed is an FMT reader.

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