KUALA LUMPUR – May 18, 2019: The fight to preserve Taman Rimba Kiara is a cause worth fighting for.
This is the stand of Segambut Member of Parliament Hannah Yeoh, who once again spoke out against the controversial development of Taman Rimba Kiara.
“Fifty years down the road, I may not be here. You may not be here… But we have a duty to protect every single last piece of rimba,” said Yeoh in her a public briefing at the Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) community hall today.
She was in a packed hall of mostly stakeholders comprising TTDI Residents Association (RA) representatives, representatives of the long house residents, residents and regular users of Taman Rimba and Bukit Kiara recreation areas.
Also present were former co-chairperson of Bersih Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, Content Researcher for the Center to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4) Lalitha Kunaratnam, Kuala Lumpur members of Parliament and representatives of RAs of neighbouring residential areas.
For the past three years, the Taman Rimba Kiara issue has been embroiled in an ongoing series of protests from the TTDI residents who want the park to remain encroachment-free.
The proposed development project would comprise a 24-storey high-rise condominium and a 17-storey affordable housing to be built for the nearby longhouse folk.
Today, Yeoh, in her detailed presentation of the Taman Rimba Kiara story, urged the public – especially residents from all Segambut townships – to collectively call on Cabinet ministers to help put a halt to the project because this project was beyond TTDI.
This is a fight for a greater Kuala Lumpur, she said, pointing out that TRK was not a source of interest for just TTDI residents but residents in Selangor as well.
“We are all here not for ourselves but for the next generation. This is really a fight beyond TTDI. For this development, not a cent will go into my pocket nor into the pocket of the TTDI RA,” she said.
In her presentation, she highlighted areas where conflict of interest and abuse of power occurred in the processes through which the project had come about.
One is the fact that the FT Minister is also the chairman of the board of Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan that owns the land.
On the development, Yeoh insisted that the construction for new housing for the longhouse folk is acceptable as long as it does not exceed the bounds of the current 4.4 acre longhouse footprint.
“Anything outside the longhouse footprint is Taman Rimba Kiara. You build within the box, don’t go beyond,” she said.
She also argued that building townhouses would be the best compromise and a more feasible alternative to Khalid’s scaled-down development plan.
“From day one, our priority has been to build better housing for the longhouse settlers, which is why the townhouse was proposed… Who wouldn’t want a townhouse if you could have a townhouse? You wouldn’t have to climb up and down or worry about lift maintenance,” Yeoh said.
“There are a lot of senior citizens at the longhouses, and they deserve to live in landed properties… We want them to live in unity,” she added.
In reference to Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad remarks, lamenting that Yeoh whom he regards as a friend, had preferred to air the issue for public consumption instead of talking to him, Yeoh who is Deputy Women, Famiy and Community Development Minister, said that she already had a few meetings with Khalid where she had discussed her townhouse proposal.
She detailed those occasions in her slide presentation.
In those meetings, Yeoh said that Khalid would dismiss her proposal each time it was mooted and then remain adamant about sticking to his scaled-down plan.
“Yes, Khalid is a friend but friends can disagree,” she said, stressing that TRK is a cause worth fighting for.
Yeoh also expressed her disappointment over the stalled investigation of the issue by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and urged the commission to step up investigations as it was clear there were wrongdoings and illegality in the processes.
Later, at her media conference, Yeoh said there was serious conflict of interest,
“MACC cannot say that there is nothing wrong. If this is not wrong, then everyone else in this new government will do the same thing.
“If this is not wrong, then MACC might as well close up. What was presented on the conflict of interest today clearly points to the pockets of the politician involved.
“If MACC sees nothing wrong with this, why are we even having MACC?”, she said.
Ambiga, who was invited to the stage, reiterated her stand that while she held on to the principle that the government should honour its contracts, the TRK was one contract that it did not have to because of the illegality concerned and public interest.
She said that the Pakatan Harapan government should be better than this – be better than the previous BN government.
Ambiga said that she and C4 executive director Cynthia Gabriel were taking up Khalid’s invitation to meet. They will be meeting with him on Monday.
Later, she told The Mole that one of the things that she would be asking from Khalid is that he steps down as chairman of YWP board of trustees.
(Earlier, during the Q&A with stakeholders, a TTDI resident, Khairuddin Abdul Rahim asked why Khalid has not stepped down given that his position clearly smacks of conflict of interest.)
Meanwhile, TTDI residents have gone on their FB page to commend Yeoh on her presentation that included information that was not disclosed by Khalid.