Despite assurances, long-drawn Rimba Kiara tussle continues

Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

KUALA LUMPUR — March 15, 2018: Three years have passed since the Rimba Kiara park controversy started but the ending that its defenders have been yearning for, particularly after the change of government last year, is nowhere in sight.

This was so despite the government’s continuous assurances that the park will be spared from the high-rise development that was earmarked at its car park and a nearby longhouse settlement.

Hope for the park to be saved after Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad formed a joint committee for that purpose in December last year has ebbed away.

“Most of us are very disappointed. We have already met the mayor and Khalid. They were supposed to do something but there hasn’t been any update. It is really frustrating,” said long-time resident of the nearby Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI), Raja Amilia Raja Azman.

“The only valid thing that was done was the setting up of a joint committee to solve the matter but that was it. Total silence till today,” she added. 

The Mole was made to understand that the committee, chaired by Khalid had only met once in December last year.

Defenders of the park were also uncertain whether Khalid was serious in helping them as the contentious gazettement of the Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020 in October last year had reinforced the notion that he was merely paying them lip service.

In a radio talk show last month, veteran town planner, Datuk P.Gunasilan, said not only the city plan’s gazettement was unlawful, but it had also, indirectly legalised the wrongdoings of those allegedly involved in causing the controversy.

This was so because according to Gunasilan, the gazetted city plan contains an addendum pertaining development orders of several contentious projects, including that of the Rimba Kiara park.

“If the developer goes to court, he can now say that he were right because the minister had already gazetted the development. Rimba Kiara is clearly a public park. It is a gazetted public park and therefore it’s illegal to change its status,” said Gunasilan.

To the unfamiliar, the gazettement of the city plan was controversial because it was not based on either the draft from 2008 or the one in 2013 that were prepared by former federal territories minister Datuk Seri Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin.

Instead, the gazetted city plan was based on a draft written in 2015 that had not been subjected to public hearings, objections and representations as required by the KL Federal Territory Planning Act.

It was also peculiar as to why Khalid formed the joint committee two months after he gazetted the city plan that legalised the controversial development at the park.

Petaling Jaya city councillor Derek Fernandez, who was also a panel during the radio talk show, argued that there is still time to untangle the mess that Khalid had created as the city plan can be de-gazetted.

“It is not too late. I am more than willing to show him (Khalid) what he did wrong with the city plan that he gazetted. He doesn’t have to worry about the existing development orders. They will not be automatically annulled [once the city plan is de-gazetted],” said Fernandez.



About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at zaidiazmi91@gmail.com.