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Bukit Antarabangsa landslide: Bitter vindication December 7, 2008

Posted by elizabethwong in "We can do better", Economy, Environment, Malaysia.
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One of the earliest policy decision made by the new Selangor state govt of Pakatan Rakyat was to throw out any housing and building applications on Class 3 and Class 4 hillslopes, in order to preserve environmentally sensitive areas and prevent the recurrence of landslides. This was decided on April 2, 2008 Executive Council meeting.

Selangor became the first and only state in the Federation to have complied with the Federal Town and Country Planning Department’s “Total Planning Guidelines” 1997 (2nd edition, 2001) which states that no housing development should be allowed on 25 degrees and above gradient slopes. 

Developers thought it was a late April Fool’s joke. Since our ban, they have used all means – the media, blogs, lobbying of ADUNs and MPs etc. to change of our minds. We were labelled and villified as “anti-business” and “anti-development”. I have even had some of our Pakatan MPs asking us to make exceptions for Class 3.

I was told they particularly disliked me and called me “lan-si” (very ‘action‘) just because during a public meeting of developers, NGOs, residents and the Exco, one of the key developers questioned how could the state government stop hillslope development, and I answered, “Because we can…”. And none were too happy when I had to repeatedly and literally wave the ‘Total Planning Guidelines” book at them. 

And every couple of months, we have to repeat our policy decision again. Even as recent as last month, developers were insisting that they had theright to develop hillslopes and some had told a couple of ExCo members that they were planning to sue us. One of them said we would have to compensate them RM 330 million (25% of our state budget) of possible loss of profits. Imagine the pressure of a lobby group whose combined income and assets dwarfs the state government. 

Saturday’s tragedy proves the correctness of the decision of the state government. But vindication which comes after loss of 4 lives and more homes is unspeakably bitter. There are some 5,000 residents living within the vicinity of the landslide who face uncertainty and possibly have to vacate their houses.

We ask that developers to stop pursuing and pressuring us to review our policy, and instead they should be thoroughly go through every single technicality of their existing hillslope projects.

While Ikram and Public Works department will be charged to pinpoint the cause of the tragedy on Saturday, the state government will immediately review all approved hillslope projects by the previous administration, standing or partially constructed.

Those, which there is no construction yet but approved previously prior to March 8, 2008, should not be allowed to proceed, especially along the same range of Bukit Antarabangsa and Ulu Kelang – which should include Taman Hijau and Bukit Melawati. 

We had come too late. Many of the hillslope projects have already been standing for a number of years, some were half completed when we came into power. Without proper maintenance of slopes and drainage on these private lands, tragedy will strike after many years, always after the period of indemnity is over. 

Those areas which are shown to be prone to landslides such as in Ulu Kelang which as far back as 2005, the Public Works Department had already flashed its red card, more stringent conditions will be imposed on already existing housing projects. 

All developers and private land owners have to protect and reinforce their own hillslopes if they want to continue to prosper, own property and do business in Selangor. We have recently received complaints from Ampang, Kajang, Cheras and Pandan where private land owners and developers have neglected to protect their hilslopes and there are already signs of wear and tear. Some put plastic sheets and some said they were bankrupt, those they don’t have to funds to repair their slopes. Whatever. If they do not do the necessary, we will blacklist them in the state and beyond. 

We ask that ‘People’ be put ahead of ‘Profits’.

We heartened that finally, after 8 months of battling the housing industryalone, that the Federal Government has come on to our side to give Selangor, both the moral and policy support it needs, with both the PM and DPM calling for all hillslope development permits nationwide to be cancelled.

We can only hope Federal government doesn’t forget after 3, 4 months, December 6, 2008 will not be forgotten – like what had happened in 1993 (Highland Towers), 2002 (Tmn Hillview) and 2006 (Kg Pasir – which was less than a km away from Saturday’s landslide) and the lives lost, both yesterday and in the past will not be in vain.

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Comments»

1. chong - December 7, 2008

well done. firm principles. keep on the fighting. :up:

2. Antares - December 7, 2008

Please name these lowdown, money-grubbing, recalcitrant developers so I can assign them specially selected rehab programs in hell. These are the true scum of the earth, maggot-infested mercenary moguls who have – as long as I can remember until 8 March 2008 – greased the palms of Umno bureaucrats & raped the earth for a quick buck, destroying ecosystems & polluting the waterways for generations. And the nauseating thing is that they all get recommended for Latokships & Tansleeships!

A permanent pox upon those who put profits before people. May their lineages be abruptly terminated. We don’t want voracious vultures posing as developers in our ecosystem. I fully back you & the PKR State government in FLUSHING OUT once and for all the toxic waste product of greedy, myopic & easily bribed Mentris Besar like Muhammad Muhammad Taib & Khir Toyo.

3. tan, tanjong bungah - December 7, 2008

Hi everyone,

It is commendable that the current S’gor State Govt has stood firm in resisting the lobbying and threats of developers and landowners on Class 3 and 4 hillslopes. Stay firm and the people will stand firmly in support of you!

There should never be a compromise where life is at stake. Whenever environmental sustainability is compromised, it would in future come to haunt the people thru’ water shortages/cut!

4. Eagle - December 7, 2008

After 100 days everything will be forgotten, greed, irresponsibility and selfish will be back to dominate Malaysians.
Malaysia is filled with a society that is so ignorant and misinformed population as the legacy of the BN government.
You see people crying, Government leaders coming with stern warning but after 100 days, sadly it will be gone with the wind.
Something is definitely needed to avoid a repeat of the same tragedy, or else come next rainy season, this nation will again be watching another devastating picture on OUR National TV.Wake up all Politicians.
“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable” Am I wrong not to trust our political leaders?

5. Ho - December 7, 2008

Congratulations for sticking to your guns. For existing projects please note retaining walls similar to those near the Agong’s palace and the Subang allow water to pass through and to my knowledge has never failed during rainy seasons.

6. nik271 - December 7, 2008

YB, while we are discussing “greedy” property developers. I remember when oil, steel and cement prices were at record highs early this year, most developers raised their property selling prices, with excuse of high construction cost due to high global oil, steel and cement prices. But now, oil prices has dropped 67% from its highs, steel prices has dropped 60-70% (depending on types) from its highs, but those “greedy” developers still continue to sell property at those old record oil, steel, cement prices. This is pure greedy!

YB, please raise this up in parliment, as we rakyat are suffering to make ends meet, and it is unfair for “greedy” developers to squeeze the rakyat for big profits. Housing is a basic necessity of life, and “greedy” developers should not take advantage of it.

7. julian - December 7, 2008

dont just wave the “total planning guidelines” book at the greedy developers but throw the book at them. wonder if they can read and understand what is written in the said book???????

8. Ffi - December 7, 2008

Petrol station also can approved to be in Bukit Antarabangsa. I don’t know if peoples living there can remembered, during the time when they started work for the Petrol station OMG OMG the whole slopes shaking and trembling like no body business even those living down in BA like Pengirran Ukay,Tm Jobina, Ukay Height also rasa the fear and yet……No point talking and planning la after few mths lupa

9. CKGordon - December 7, 2008

I remember the slope gradient limitation. Slopes are however not exactly trigonometric as it is curved; hence, some developers would use the excuse of certain allowable gradient zone to take advantage for approval.

Somehow, I can understand the developer’s sentiment for the fury over this ban. Firstly, they would have purchased the lands (which of coz cost a lot of money) and invested preliminary to have the idea of development out. With a abrupt ban, some of the developers are stuck with losses.

I would suggest Hillslope Zoning to prevent Developers from making the wrong decision of purchase. That would make everyone happy. And of coz… that would make … hillslope development banned indefinitely.

However, this zoning methodology is very difficult. Takes a lot of time, and might also step on landowner’s toes.

Good Luck…..

10. Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Adha « *SUSAN LOONE’s Blog* - December 7, 2008

[...] Ps. Read also Elizabeth Wong’s “Bitter Vindication”. [...]

11. jay - December 7, 2008

dear miss elizabeth wong,
What had happened should be a great lesson to the authorities and developers to stop hillside/hillslope projects.
I suggest you visit a few ongoing projects in Taman Melawati and Ulu Kelang which could spell disaster in the future.
Do something before it’s too late!
Thank you.

12. Bukit Antarabangsa: Condolences & Sympathy « *SUSAN LOONE’s Blog* - December 7, 2008

[...] Ps. Read also Elizabeth Wong’s “Bitter Vindication”. [...]

13. mike - December 7, 2008

Yes, I believe the blame should fall on the previous BN state govt and the BN controlled local authorities who approved all these projects. You guys in the PR are doing the right thing to stop these greedy developers from doing what they have been doing all these years bec they had some friendly BN Godfathers looking after them. After March 8, not anymore! Screw them!

14. anti greedy developers - December 7, 2008

line up all greedy developers and in China they would have been shot.
maybe a Fatwa on this is overdue.

15. Samuel Goh Kim Eng - December 7, 2008

TOO LATE TO HEED WHAT’S IN NEED

Whenever a tragedy strikes
The blame game will begin
With landslides too late to spike
And authorities too drunk with ‘gin’

(C)Samuel Goh Kim Eng – 071208
http://MotivationInMotion.blogspot.com
Sun. 7th Dec. 2008.

16. richardpoon - December 7, 2008

will they ever learnt? never….will development on hillsides continue? yes!….will more lives be lost? yes!….people does not matter!…big money and greedy officials do!

17. fool me twice - December 7, 2008

Syabas sdr Elizabeth. It’s never easy to to appease human greed. But people before profit, that’s the way to go.

Nature had to intervene yet again to make man realise he cannot go on indiscriminately slashing and burning flora, chasing and killing fauna, and denuding hills to put concrete boxes on their treacherous slopes for human dwelling. The hills couldn’t take it anymore, humans must retreat.

People before profit. Greed must go.

18. nesen - December 7, 2008

why not the selangor state government publish a white paper or an independent report so that the bl;ame can be laid squarely at the feet ofthose responsible for the tragedies

19. jerry - December 7, 2008

In Malaysia;its money talks loud!Whereever there is a chance to lay their fingers on for profits,they will do it!What happens after is immaterial;its only other peoples lives,right?This is the attitude of the majority of people,sad to say,but its a fact!Look at the recent cases of melamine tainted food products;only RM10,000 worth of biscuits go for the landfill;the rest still consumed by the not so careful citizens!Its nightmarish to think how some people can be so insensitive to the needs of others,when we are one in this universe!How pathetic!

!

20. wandererAUS - December 7, 2008

Conscience and responsibility are tthe last things in the minds of the previous State govt headed by the corrupted Khir Toya and his exco members. They should be made answerable to this tragedy, since they were the ones, that approved all the hillside developments in the State. Blood is in their hands and they should not be let off easily.

21. Futurist - December 7, 2008

In Seoul, South Korea, a shopping complex collapsed causing loss of many lives. The developer was charged and jailed although the tragedy happened 7 years after completion of the complex. Dear Elize Wong, go for all those involved in the approvals if you can. Someone should be responsible for the lives lost.

22. Eric - December 7, 2008

Eli,
I think I am right when I say most of Selangor are supporting the PR government on this issue. Don’t tame it. We are proud to have instead of the former good-for-nothing (except line their own packet) crony clique.
As to the federal government, sad but true, they probably have forgotten whatever they just said. Their promises are very very cheap.

23. Miriam - December 7, 2008

There are cumulative benefits to working with nature and there is hope, even at this late hour for repairing and remediating some of the impacts of ‘maldevelopment.’

For a start, put a complete full stop to all hilltop and hillslope developments. Evacuate and house the presently affected victims of landslides in safer areas. There is a glut of housing in many parts of KL and Selangor and many of these presently vacant homes not only may be suitable but cost effective as well. These areas may be perceived to be less up market than the Ampang, Damansara and Kenny Hills, they are not dangerously over-developed and therefore are relatively safer in many respects.

Affected hill slopes ought to be reinforced by a system of wide terraced gabion cages. Then beginning 1st with the most fragile areas, these areas ought to be planted with an appropriate selection of varieties of deep, medium and shallow rooted woody forest tree species.

These ought to include fast and slow growing varieties. The reticulated network of their root systems will develop a firm natural barrier to erosion control as nature intended in her divine originality. Stability is assured as excess soil moisture is intercepted and this will continue to increase as the ground re-adjusts to conservation and growth rather than to erosion and calamity as is present reality. This is only a brief and rather simplified version of immediate steps to be taken. There is much more that needs to happen if nature is to be emulated for our common good.

24. Jimmy Tan - December 7, 2008

There are greedy developers who cares more about money than people. I just came back from my brother-in-law’s house in Jalan Jugra (Old Klang Road), where a row of bungalows owners successfully stopped a developer from building s massive high-rise condomium – right at their backyards! Was told that the bungalow owners were so worried of landslide – since the proposed hig-rise condominum will hover over their bungalow and what if the retaining wall gave way ! Victory to the people !

I salute our Selangor for being the first and only state in the Federation to have complied with the Federal Town and Country Planning Department’s “Total Planning Guidelines” 1997 (2nd edition, 2001) which states that no housing development should be allowed on 25 degrees and above gradient slopes.

Let’s protect our hills and natural environments and saves lives!

25. jeff - December 7, 2008

I am a resident of Hijau Apartment in Taman Hijau.
We are aware of the constant danger of the hillslope at the back
of the Apartment. We are currently at Appeal board stage to block
the developer from going ahead with their project, which has the blessings of MPAJ.
I am amazed at the arrogance of the developer and their legal counsel. They say their futuristic engineering will alleviate any slope problems, although these radical methods have never been ‘tested’ anywhere else in the world!
MPAJ’s insistence that they have the blanket approval of the relevant authorities, also proves how quickly this local council moves for
profit, and not a care for the people who have been and will be affected by their rash decisions.
This incident, and I am sure this will not be the last, is Mother Nature’s constant reminder that Nature rules in the hills, not
technology, and certainly not in the hands of an insurance company?
trying very hard to be a developer.

26. Chris - December 7, 2008

In Malaysia it is whom you know but not what you know.Every housing project will be approved if you have the connections and means.When tragedy happened,the politicians will say”STOP ALL HILL DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS”. The people’s interest come first.But after a few months,the tractors will start operating again.Is this the kind of Govt.we want? People’s interest come first?
Think hard,my fellow Malaysians.If the victims are their next of kins,they will have the people’s interest at heart and not otherwise.
Politicians,you must have the will power to stop further tragedies from happening.

27. Jackie Teo - December 7, 2008

Prevention is better than cure. While I note the good intentions by the new ruling Selangor government, may I know what measures has been taken for those houses or apartments/condos that has already been build and going to be approved by the municipal council such as MPAJ?

I have a concern because the apartment I bought shows cracks all over. It’s at Block B, Pandan Perdana Lake View Apartment, K.L. I have written to MPAJ, Land Exco & my constituent YB to ask the safety condition of this building but to date, no answers has been given.

I have proof of letters & emails from MPAJ copied to the Yang Dipertua Dato Mohammad Yacob to show that at initial stage, MPAJ hold the developer responsible and then later confirms the other as the management has been transferred from the developer owned management team to a new entity.

One thing is confirmed by MPAJ – Jika ia melibatkan struktur bangunan tiada tempoh kecacatan.

Now that’s the question I am asking!

If the structure is Ok, then it is safe for me to occupy and as such, if the building collapses one day, we know who to send the bill to!

I hope you can agree prevention is better than cure! We should have programs to check the living ones instead of praying for the lost ones

28. Ampang resident - December 7, 2008

To Ho, I am in no doubt that the retaining wall at Agong’s palace is in great shape. Agong woh! Of course it will be monitored constantly. On the other hand, no one takes responsibility for maintaining and remedial measures on thousands of other retaining walls in this country. Unlike other advanced countries where they do regular checks.
To Elizabeth Wong, I think it is time for tougher measures, go beyond monetary, it is too easy to cite bankruptcy or change company names, etc. Time we JAIL those responsible for causing landslide deaths, all the way from top to bottom of the decision-making process. Let’s see which Tom, Dick or Harry would rush out and build on the next hill.

29. bamboo river - December 7, 2008

The developement of hillslopes especially Bukit Antarabangsa must STOP. The surrounding geological area and soil is NOT suitable .
I want the state gomen to do something to prevent lost of lives . The whole hillslopes is a dead trap.

30. cy97 - December 7, 2008

It is easy to put up a so called regulation but i see no indifference between the current Selangor government and the previous one. I am working in civil construction industry and i deal with government officials. They are the same, doing the same work in the same way.

I must say when pointing at private not maintaining the slope n what not, the council controlled by the new state government also showing no efforts in doing so, not to mention the slope, not even the street, the road, the drain…. They are in deplorable state as they are before 8th March 2008. So b4 you put up your head and comment the previous government, ask yourself if the current government is doing enough or is doing anything at all?

31. cy97 - December 7, 2008

And look at the Palace located in Sri Hartamas, Isn’t it fall on class 3 and 4 slopes ?

EW: Check your jurisdiction. Sri Hartamas = Federal Territory.

32. reshmann - December 7, 2008

My condolences to the families of those who have lost their precious lives.The federal and the state govt have to bear the responsibility.Such man made disaster should not be occuring again,having gone through the tragedy of the Highland Towers more than a decade ago.Our Majlis Perbandaran is so apt at confiscating illegal stalls even it means taking away the rice bowl of the poor and hardworking,but allows unscrupulous developers to develop unsafe areas.Without serving the interest of certain politicians,I am sure these greedy developers could not have gone ahead with this sort of irresponsible projects.Enough is enough,the rakyat should unite and make sure the culprits are punished and not let off scot free as this is an issue concerning precious innocent lives.I wonder how many more innocent Malaysians have to die in such painful way for no fault of theirs?May god bless the souls of all those who have departed.

33. Mr Smith - December 7, 2008

Well done and never give in to these licensed murderers. Never allow the Federal Government to backtrack.

34. Stanley Tai - December 7, 2008

I think one thing is being overlooked here. Nobody is forcing you to buy a hillside bungalow. You know the tragic history, you know the risk, yet you still buy. So who’s at fault?

35. yifan - December 8, 2008

In Malaysia, as many other countries, public outcry followed a tragedy was common and expected. Helped by the internet blog culture, more voices are raised and those holding office (such as Elizabeth Wong) has better means to “engage” with public opinion than before. But whether this explosion of so-called “public opinion” can be shaped into a healthy public discourse is a question mark? There are so many voices, and noises as well. And I would argue that an important dimension in shaping the new “Selangor PR Governement” policy, at least in your portfolio in Environmental, Tourism and Consumer affairs, is how well your team can grab something meaningful from the bits and pieces in the ocean of public opinion.

Many pointed out the Malaysians, the governing as well as the governed, are forgetful. And we pay huge price for that as one tragedy after another struck us, like the series of landslide events in Hulu Klang over the last two decades. But why are we forgetful? After newspaper headlines, public outcries, and investigation, and PM’s pledge this and that, and including this BLOG ENTRY, why eventually everything will silent down, and worse, business come back as usual?

I wold not bother to response as I did here if I do not harbour hope in you, as a so-called progressive activist turn politician, to bring about some reform. To be frank, I have no evidence but I chose to believe that you had made genuine efforts to resist the business-politics lobbyists to go back for “business as usual” scenatio in Selangor. Therefore, my suggestions for you is to find look at the following questions which are raised

1. How public complaints can be made easily and the progress tracked over time? bukitlanjan.com seems good, but is there a similar mechanism for state environmental problems?

2. How to keep the public discourse alive? This is important. You can win over the businee-politician interest lobbyists for “evil” development projects, with greater chance, if there is simultenously a very intense public complaints. A top-down policy intervention, such as those mentioned to freeze class 3 and 4 slope hillside development, is more likely to succeed if you have strong public support.

3. How to inform the public on the progress of change? 300 days of holding office is coming, what progress have you made?

4. What is your target and timeline for several crucial environmental issues in Selangor? Have you communicated to the public? How do you prepare to take responsibility if such targets failed within timeline?

Yes, there are so many things to be done. So many conflicts between ecological conservation – development – business political interest – your (honourable EXCO Elizabeth Wong) very own survival in the PR politics. It is complex.

You need to lay down the terms, targets and timeline, clear in one page. Let the public participate in the policy discourse. Let us scrutinise you. And let a few head rolls when big events like the landslide occured (someone at director level should go). Be prepared to resign if everything fail.

I’ve writtent too long. Please contact me at chungyifan@gmail.com if you’d like to have more discussion (I could not find your personal e-mail, anywhere on the web). And I shall be honest here, I am a Masters student in Europe looking for potential job in the environmental sector after graduation, in the PR government if it still exist. I believe you have much to offer to public, so do I.

36. Peter Chong - December 8, 2008

Eli,
I am truly proud of the stance that you have taken as the EXCO in charge. And not just that, I am willing to commit my time to assist you, if given the chance…even Pro Bono!

I am committed to making Malaysia a better place

By the way, I am Peter Chong (Macao) of CAHC and now back to serve in Malaysia.

My political will to see changes extends beyond just talking. I walk my talk, given the opportunity.

37. Save The Damansara Perdana Forest - December 8, 2008

Dear Liz,
Please look in your own backyard of Bukit Lanjan and see the destruction of the steep( more than 30% slope ) forested hills of Damansara Perdana. The development of a highrise complex have just started next to the Citibank Damansara Perdana branch opposite the shophouses where the slope here is more that 45%. How did they get their approval in the first place ?
The frightening fact is that the whole steep forested hills have been zoned for development without any open spaces, and mind you this is the MBPJ Structure Plan. This means that MBPJ is proposing to allow the developer to clear all of this pristine forest for development.
As the elected representative of Bukit Lanjan, please tell your constituents what action are you taking to rectify this . Let’s hope we do not have to witness another landslide trajedy before any action is taken.
This is the best opportunity to Save The Damansara Perdana Forest since both the PM and DPM have voiced out strongly against hillsope development.

EW: Dear JA – There are no housing projects on hillslopes approved after the Exco met on April 2, 2008 to ban development on Class 3 & 4 gradient slopes. But I take note of your complaint and will bring this up with MBPJ during this Wednesday’s OSC meeting. Tq!

38. Top Posts « WordPress.com - December 8, 2008

[...] Bukit Antarabangsa landslide: Bitter vindication One of the earliest policy decision made by the new Selangor state govt of Pakatan Rakyat was to throw out [...] [...]

39. jj - December 8, 2008

Stand firm! Present Selangor state government should be given a Novel price for taking good care of environment, safety of people in the same time benefit of Rakyat. Previous state government official should be investigated just like the ex Taiwan President, send them behind bar for neglecting the interest and safety of human man kind. A word of reminder that the rainfall in Malaysia is more than 2000mm per year and raining days more than 150 days per year.

40. Peter Tan - December 8, 2008

The most guilty party is the governmrnt officer who approve it. Developers role is to develop and make moneyIt is no use relying one developer having social responsibility while another developer profit from it .

Governement plays the role of regulator . It is the regulator’s fault !! Hanh them !!

41. Jeyapalan.T.S.Mahesan - December 8, 2008

EW!
The Developers & others can attempt to sue, BUT if genocide is the /could be the result of their actions – then let them sue & they will be nailed under the PENAL CODE.
The Guide Lines are there to prevent a calamity/disaster
The Guide Lines are there to prevent Genocide/Murder
The Guidelines have the force of LAW.
Breach it & face the consequence.

When I represented certain worried/concerned residents vis a vie DBKL, I was told in no uncertain terms – do not be a dinousar – u cannot stop US!

I have seen the concerned look on all your faces whenever u guys have to “take on” the big fellows – such is always there.

Please do not slow down – check out the EIA,get the State to conduct its own checks & tests, dig out from the Archives the old topography maps,get it from the Army Ordinance Units – then there is a true picture established – which is the foundation of The Guidelines.

And EW, U r right – a little too late we realize/the powers that be realize.

It was heartwrenching to witness & read about the residents trudging along a footpath with a plastic bag of their belongings – crushed dreams,hopes,faith & lives – all the result of LOCAL GOVERNMENT/DEVELOPER GENOCIDE!

Godspeed,EW,Godspeed!

Jeya

42. joyousnymph - December 8, 2008

U have the empowerment, use it fruitfully to help mankind!

U r definitely not ‘lan-si’ but firm enough to fight off all those heartless ‘vultures’. Keep up the good fight, do not be intimidated by any challenges that come along.

We need more people like U who have good old common sense and compassion to help her rakyat! So, do not ‘kow-tow’ to their threats and pressures!

We are behind U, GBU!

43. Bukit Antarabangsa Landslide : Bitter Vindication. « Blog yOur Mind - December 8, 2008
44. Aston - December 8, 2008

I’ve always looked at the Earth as being another extension of Nature. Being an extension Nature, it can most certainly react to our actions in its own way.

And when Man in his arrogance stars this hyper-development, has utter disregard for the environment and forgoes his responsibility to Mother Earth; it’s only a matter of time before Nature thrashes Man back to his place and shuts him up.

Nature doesn’t discriminate either. Nature doesn’t share our bigotry. Nature doesn’t care whether you’re poor or rich, Bumiputera or not. In fact it is sufficient to say:

Nature Knows Best!

45. MalaysiaBerjaya - December 8, 2008

This is another Malaysia Boleh story. Unfortunately, we don’t understand between Boleh and Berjaya? Berjaya is success because of execution. Boleh only means I can…so what if the Spirit is Willing, the Flesh is Weak.

Malaysians have to be more discerning and learn to push matters ahead. The crux of the matter is not just the Developers, the public are to be blamed as well. Why? It is because they are the Purchasers of the properties. Demand and supply, pull and push…..Meanwhile, we strive to educate the “enforcers” since enforcement seems to be difficult thing to do as it is a Malaysian disease.

I wish you well, and whether you are Pakatan Rakyat or UMNO out there, Muslims, Christians, Hindus and etc, let’s push this reform through as it affects Malaysia. The Rakyat must stand up, at least the majority else we will still remain Malaysia Boleh……First class infrastructure, third class …….same goes for most of our sportmen as well, ….they need to think further….and thank God , there is Nicole…this is what we call a professional. Nevertheless, we hope that oneday there will be many Berjaya Malaysians around.

46. AFLAW NORDIN - December 8, 2008

I personally would like to see that all matters regarding the housing matters particularly in Selangor could be solved entirely. But sad to note that, it is rather impossible. When a tragedy happens, like at Bkt Antarabangsa, which is an old story, everybody especially the politicians would scramble around looking for a solution.

I won’t blame the developers per se, because if the buyers were not interested, the project would not be saleable. It’s definitely a willing and a willing buyer situation. I pray for the lost ones..

It requires not just a political power, but also a political will. YAB MB Selangor will be in a better position to resolve the complicated housing development issues since he was a developer before (a profitable one too). I am looking forward to see what action he will take and eventually solve the matter. Don’t be “hangat-hangat tahi ayam”(malay proverb) as when the issue dies down, it would be put back in the drawer while waiting for the next tragedy. Good luck YB..

47. potblack - December 8, 2008

Syabas for your quick response over the landslide issue and welcome back after your more than a month blogging hiatus.I understand that the Selangor Pakatan Gov. has a set of very strict regulations on hillside developements and which you have been accused of being LANSI.Rules sre rules,screw them if they dont comply. Dear YB,I would like to draw your attention that bad roads,poor street lighting and unpainted road kerbs can kill too.Just look at the conditions of all the main roads in Bandar Utama and compare it to Taman Tun.Try driving at night during the rain,I am sure many residents will give you countless of mishaps or near mishaps that had happened Please do something before fatal accidents happened.By the way what has happened to the proposed BU police station? Any clue?.

48. ts - December 8, 2008

do not blame all toward developer, when there is demand than there is supply, buyer also have to play their part.

49. Sinniah - December 8, 2008

Ms Wong,

Somewhere in the EPU is a National Conservation Strategy completed by all the Universities between 1989 to 1992. I believe if any of the recommednations were followed, we would not have any such landslides. Please get Parliament to look into this. DEMAND FOR IT since the PM is now declaring a ban on hillside development.

50. Shai Samsuri - December 8, 2008

Dear Yang Berkhidmat,

I am very glad that you pop by our relief/ food distribution centre at Taman Bukit Utama 2 yesterday. Yes, we may be hostile at moments towards you, but that is nature of man when evrythin g is looking pear shape. FYI, one of our demand which is electricity, has been connected since 5.30pm today. I am sure that has to do with some persuasion from your side however little it was, as you said before, you dont have jurisdiction over TNB. I understand that fully well. Keep up the good work. Now my request is, when are we getting with our normal lives of going to work.

EW: Dear Shaiful, the temporary road is operational since last night and this is to allow people from your area to come in and out, albeit there is a schedule for incoming and outgoing vehicles. This will allow for some semblance of regular life. We are now in the process of clearing the existing road..

51. These are some of the responses to the tragedy at BUKIT ANTARABANGSA « Save Bukit Gasing - December 8, 2008

[...] December 8, 2008 in News | Tags: Bukit Antarabangsa landslide | by savegasinghill Bukit Antarabangsa landslide: Bitter vindication: [...]

52. mut - December 9, 2008

Maybe naming them would probably do THEM some good. I would like to know which developer has absolutely no conscience – I bet you my last ringgit they would probably deny putting pressure on the government that the landslide had occurred. Typical shameless behaviour ala UMNO.

May the PR people never fall into the same money trap.

53. Ian Teh - December 9, 2008

Elizabeth – thank you for not ceasing to articulate all that needs to be told well and often. Malaysia needs an overhaul of its mindset. Money should be relegated to a nice to have level, not a must have beyond all costs level. Only then would people start to think and do the right things.

54. S.W.Poh - December 9, 2008

I was shocked to hear and later see the devastation in Bukit Antarabangsa. And this is all attributed to GREED.

It shocked me more when the PM-in-waiting said that the government would not heed the pressure group. He has in saying admitted that the government allowed the developers to go ahead after being pressured. This admission has serious implications!

I observed that the present Selangor Government has made some policy decisions that are good. They may not be to the likings of some.

55. zul m - December 9, 2008

azmin the mp was informed 2 weeks prior to the incident of fallen trees, etc. signs of the impending landslide and did nothing. It is also time that our mp spend a little more time with their constituents rather than harping on things that are not benefiting the people.

EW: I am sure Azmin had reported the incident to MPAJ as the latter cleared the trees earlier. We will however check further on this. Tqvm.

56. Kedahan63 - December 9, 2008

Dear YB Elizabeth,
You should have asked them back “How many lives must be lost before they stop building on Class 3 & 4 slopes? One is already too many” instead of replying “because we can!”. Put them in the spot by asking them whether they will stay below or downhill of any of their porjects. Hold them to it if they say yes. If they have the gall to threaten the State Gov’ment, they ought to have the nuts to stand by their “safety” record!

In Taman Tan Yew Lai, KL, DBKL had approved a housing project on a slope that probably falls in Class 4, my estimate is its’ about 75-85 degs. The houses are 2 1/2 storeied and they’re built right up to the edge of the slope. The retaining wall looked too weak, no reinforcement like “nails” was applied there. Just the regular stones & cement mix. Right above these new houses at the peak, is a TNB Transmission tower and a older 2-storey bungalow (quite a big one being used as a Buddhist center). I know DBKL is out of your jurisdiction but I’d like to highlight this to you, if you can pass it on to YB Teresa, I’d appreciate it very much. And no…there’s no mosque in the immediate area so the racist parties can’t use it to give her another trip to Kamunting.

57. george kumar - December 9, 2008

Dear Elizabeth,

I wonder if the Flora Damasara apartments in Bkt Lanjan are safe coz I just bought it this year despite people telling me not to. Is it possible to get some kind of confirmation from the developer?
Thanks.

George

58. vv - December 9, 2008

All: Please , can we start “thinkng” ,should slopes of class 3 and 4 be examned for stablity , would the best way be to do “sold” construction on it , i.e to make it safe , and thus have surface drainage for rain water.

59. Patrick Teoh - December 9, 2008

As an affected resident of Bukit Antarabangsa, I am heartened to read your blog about the Selangor government’s efforts to keep its citizens safe. My cynical nature warns me that the Federal government’s promises are merely empty words to make media noise and capitalise on a tragic photo opportunity.

I do not know what I am going to do or can do. But let me say here that if there is any assistance I can offer you and your team in your efforts to do the RIGHT thing please do not hesitate to let me know. I can be reached at +6012 2821399; email: mortimer53@gmail.com

Thank you and God bless.

Sincerely,
patrick teoh

60. Marea - December 9, 2008

Building buildings on hillslopes can be done BUT depending on HOW you build them. To say NO to all might be a futuristic problem as soon you will be OUT-OF-LAND to build homes for your people.

A lot of buildings are built around the world on hillslopes of Class 3 or 4 or even those standing at 90 degress. But those builders adhere to law of nature rather than political-don’t-know-how.

Our Malaysian Developers are still not to that standard of architectural and construction ingenuity nor are the enforcers experience enough to control and monitor. You can throw the TP Guidelines today but tomorrow, you might have to relook at your policy to solve your human shelthering issues.

My deepest sympathy to those at Bukit Antarabangsa but I still put the blame on them for purchasing the properties in the first place. Developers can persuade but the purchaser is still the final decision maker, right? (See, some of them do not even wish to move when you guys are trying hard to keep them safe.)

Do have a nice day.

61. Faridah - December 9, 2008

Dear YB Elizabeth,
I salute you and the State government for standing firm by your bold decision to stop giving approvals for hillslope development involving Class 3 and 4. We in Taman Melawati have seen huge areas near the Klang Gates Dam being cleared for development and cannot fathom how these projects could be approved. We are now fighting to save the last green lung, the Fasa 3 hill in the heart of Taman Melawati. I know you said that this hill should not be developed despite having been given approval last year. I hope that the State government can withdraw that approval once and for all so the residents living in the vicinity do not have to live in fear of a tragedy like in Bukit Antarabangsa. The same goes for the other projects like Taman Hijau that were approved in haste before the March general election.Residents have spent so much time and expense attending hearing after hearing at MPAJ and the Appeal Board. We should not have to be put through this if MPAJ had followed the “Book”.

62. mob1900 - December 9, 2008

Expose these developers who insisted it’s their right to ‘develop’ hillslopes!
Reveal all these Lobbyist and Pressure Group who’ve only Greed and Money in their mind!

Who bares the deaths, damages and evacuation of thousands?
The Rakyat!
These developers and corrupt officials will get off scot-free, literally runing wawy with murder and money. Reveal these groups of thugs NOW!

63. Fido - December 10, 2008

Constructing buildings on Hill slopes will burden the thin layer of soil perching on the inner rock core. When this soil is saturated by rain it will swell and loss its cohesion property and then its adhesion capacity to the rock core.

When this happened the part of the swelled slope will collapsed and slip downwards causing an avalanche like effect thus pulling down adjoining all matters with it. The steeper and longer the slope the greater the volume of collapsed soil.

It is in the utmost interest of saving human lives that all existing properties now perching dangerously on hill slopes be quickly demolished to stop further disasters.

Money can be re-printed, but lives of beloved ones once lost will forever never again return. Please use your conscience.

64. jay - December 10, 2008

I think that the principles that the current selangor government upholds is a great idea. On that note I would suggest a risk based approach to allocation of funds for development.

With the current weather pattern changing rapidly due to global warming, flash floods, landslides are going to be a common incident with significant loss of lifes and financial impact.

The state government must perform a through risk analysis of the state from changing environmental factors and ensure it has allocated the right amount of resources to safeguard the citizens that have put them in.

Traffic jams in many places cost the government money – when there is a jam fuel is consumed more than usual – implies that subsidies are being wasted. Each jam in the road is a dripping tap, that waste resources in the long run.

The developers have made this so because BN used to ignore basic city planning codes and policies, leading to overdevelopment in many parts of Selangor.

Future development must go thru a strict assessment process that takes into account sustainability issues on all fronts

65. Joe in BA - December 10, 2008

When I drove pass the Bukit Antarbangsa’s Jalan Wangsa 1 where a huge landslide happen in 1998( more or less), the overpowering cliff which remain unsupported always cast a heavy weight a my chest, as if the cliff is going to come down on me. Wonder after almost 10 years yet no one take serious action in doing some serious repair works except covering part of the cliff with plastic sheets.
On the other side of the cliff now stand a big board by some greedy developer wanting to sell new bungalow lot on this potential deadly strip of hills.
Last 2 weeks, a vast piece of land came crushing down and blocked part of the road.
But does the MPAJ going to do serious repair on this waiting to be happened tragedy road? And how about the houses and the people who is living above the cliff.
Help……….!

66. vv - December 10, 2008

We need to “Make Safe” all our slopes , even the class 3 and class 4 , this will in turn make KL and Selangor , world class city and state. We can not hide in caves, we need to help the Government do this ,one way is to do good secure development with deep foundations till bedrock ,if we want green areas, then plant or landscape it, like in Japan, Hong Kong, Australia. This will be appreciated by our children of the country . That is moving forward positively.

67. jojo - December 10, 2008

YB, please look into the development right beside Kemensah area, on Bukit Melawati. My fiance, our friends and I were among those who signed the petition against the housing project, but despite the 10,000 signatures the project went on. You can refer to http://www.savetamanmelawatihill.com

Kemensah is very close to BA, and if you have the time to take a look at the area (behind Zoo Negara, beside Pesona Villa) you will see that the once green hill is now denuded of trees. Dari taman hijau, jadi bukit tanah merah. All for a group of McMansions for the elite.

Apa yg rakyat boleh buat utk halang syarikat2 yg tamak ni? Piket pun tak berguna. Kawasan rumah saya, Sri Gombak hendak dibangunkan i.e. pemaju mahu bina mini mall & kami penduduk SG sebulat suara menolak cadangan tersebut. Kalau penduduk SG sendiri tak mahu kompleks membeli-belah dibina, utk siapa projek itu nak diteruskan? Dah puas berpiket, berdemo tapi nampaknya kuasa kapital lebih kuat dari suara rakyat…

68. Damocles - December 10, 2008

You did the right thing, Liz.
You are one rare politician who will stick to your principles.
Through thick and thin.
That way you’ll be able to sleep well at night! And also earn the admiration of being a truly people-centric representative of the people.
It is very unfortunate for the people of this country that they have such blind faith in the UMNO/BN government. And they pay very dearly for it, sometimes with their lives!
Perhaps, now that even the well heeled are the victims of greed, things may swing the way of the PR.
Keep up the good work.

69. Damocles - December 10, 2008

A lot of buildings are built around the world on hillslopes of Class 3 or 4 or even those standing at 90 degress. But those builders adhere to law of nature rather than political-don’t-know-how. – Marea

It may be true that lots of buildings around the world were built on slopes of Class 3 or 4. Or even at 90 degrees perpendicular.
But most of them are perhaps on solid rocks – even castles have been built on narrow ledges along mountains.
Our soil is mainly mud with some big boulders trapped in between. Therein lies the difference.
On a high hill like that of Bukit Antarabangsa, which is perhaps a hundred meters or more high, there is not much one can do by way of making it safe for housing.
The muddy soil has a tendency to crumble once it is soak by continuous rain. Piling or retaining walls will not do much to improve its safety.
Also, can Marea say why this area is still prone to landslides when after every landslide, studies after studies and work done by the so-called experts were undertaken?
Does Marea also realise that when one buys a house, one doesn’t expect it to fall into a ravine, not in ten years, twenty years – not ever!
Also, there are those who literally blame the buyers who bought houses built on hillslopes by saying that they should share the blame. This statement is very inane because, first of all, these houses are expensive ones. No one expect such houses to be built on unsafe land. Secondly, approvals were given to the developers to proceed with the development – would a respobsible government do such things. Buyers are lulled into a sense of false security!
Obviously, they didn’t reckon with the BN government!!
And they paid very dearly for it. And even get blamed for it.
So, this whole incident is an object lesson on what government one should vote for because if you cast your vote for one that is only party-centric, you’ll pay for it in every and any way.
LEARN THIS LESSON WELL!

70. lanwm - December 11, 2008

Yb Eli was in prime news yesterday night, the 1st piece of news! :)

71. jim - December 11, 2008

I look at this like, if you need to go to a dentist and do fillings ( stabilise ALL slopes) , you need to pick a good dentist (developer), but the need to do the job is required. You can’t sit in pain forever.
If the dentist does a bad job, we suffer, BUT he needs to be able to do the job with the law regulations helping him.
The law needs to back good professionals MAKE them do a good job and hold them responsible.
But to sit with the pain and battle with the law does not help.
Good construction & powerful engineering techniques is the solution with the law to hold professionals liable.
This is what is right , it may not be popular.

72. CTLee - December 11, 2008

Dear Elizabeth,

IT IS FINE AND WELL THAT HILLSLOPE DEVELOPMENT IS NOW BEING BANNED. BUT WHAT ABOUT THOSE UNDER CONSTRUCTION AND BEING OCCUPIED BY RESIDENTS. SOME FORM OF SYSTEMS NEED TO BE IMPLEMENTED URGENTLY BEFORE MORE DISASTERS HAPPEN.

MANY DISASTERS HAD HAPPENED AFTER THE HIGHLAND TOWER NIGHTMARE. MANY STUDIES AND SOIL MAPPINGS HAD BEEN CARRIED OUT BY GEOTECHNICAL EXPERTS AND YET WE DO NOT KNOW WHEN THE NEXT DISASTER WILL STRIKE.

Instead of more technical studies and reports, an urgent study has to be done to evaluate the quality of the technical manpower that we have in the local authourites (LAs) and the PWD,etc. Many a time technical reports are submitted as a requirement only. The Engineers in LAs hardly read them or if they do, probably do not understand them. (don’t laugh, its a reality). In the name of NEP, many competent Engineers are being sidelined and find their way to the private sectors. We the raayat demand the best personnels in the LAs and all other public sectors as all engineering failures affect all irregardless of race and religion.

Abuse of the NEP is not only afflicting the LAs, but also Education sector. Just look at what is happening to our Public Universities. University Malaya is struggling to be among the top 200 when it was one of best in Asia in the 80’s. Why can’t an experienced and dedicated non-Malay be appointed to head PKNS if she is able to do so for the good of the State?

WILL YOU CHOOSE YOUR DRIVER BASING ON HIS RACE OR HIS EXPERIENCE? I WILL CHOOSE SAFETY. WAKE UP! ABANDON NEP, ABANDON KETUANAN FOR MALAYSIA’S SAKE.

CTLee

73. E Contrario » Blog Archive » Visit Bkt Antarabangsa - December 11, 2008

[...] disallow hillside development. Despite heavy pressure from developers and real estate lobby, MB and Exco Elizabeth Wong stick to our principle and remain committed to the [...]

74. onthestreets - December 12, 2008

I couldn’t believe what I saw in yesterday’s newspapers when Ong Ka Chuan effectively said, “…the landslide was caused by natural factors”.

I would have thought after the departure of a certain Mr. Samy Vellu from government, this kind of excuses would never rear its ugly head again. Alas! I was wrong.

Politicians, read on…onthestreets.wordpress.com.

75. Jeffrey Ong - December 12, 2008

I’d agree with Stanley Tai. We can’t blame the government totally for the mess. It is the residents issue. Why buy a property that has tragic landslide incidents in the past? Is it because there is no where else to go? No, it’s the prestigious luxury and status that drove them to buy properties in that area. The developers offered them an area to live among the rich and famous, so they made their choice. The issue boils down to vanity.

Every man made structure is not safe because we are govern by the rules of mother nature. We are not above the rules. We cannot control natural disasters from happening but we can create preventive measures to ensure that if it does happen, it will cause little effect or none.

Everything points to people. We want to be above everything and forgetting that we are living on a piece of land that belongs to mother nature and in trying to manipulate mother nature would spell disaster no matter where you are. So it all boils down again to the very nature of human existence. We live to co-exist with mother nature, not developing and manipulating it to feed our luxurious needs.

Points to ponder, “Will our luxurious lifestyle keep us above the rules of mother nature and also above other man made rules?” “Our needs are basic, why add more and cause damage to mother nature?”

Remember, we are one people living in one earth. There is no where else to go. So respect mother nature and preserve her. She is the one who is keeping us alive. Luxury keeps us alive but does not provide oxygen. Mother nature does. So think again!!!! Go back to the basics of human existence. The answer is always there.

“Development has it’s consequences, and we embrace it with open arms. Therefore we have to face whatever damage and disaster it brings, natural or man made, while enjoying the fruits of a growing
developing nation.”

76. MalaysiaBerjaya - December 17, 2008

It dawned on me on how majority of Malaysians will lift their hands up and declare that the Bukit Antarabangsa’s landslide is not a “surprise” occurence at all.

Whilst I agree with some experts that certain hills affected by the existing projects should be stopped, it should be not be left alone lest it may endanger the areas or citizens since “mother nature” has been disturbed. For eg the Medan Damansara’s case, it should further be studied, strengthened the slope and etc since the terrains have been dislocated. Therefore, developers and the public must work hand in hand to manage these problems and find solutions.

The focus now will be the push, the “real push” for reform, and a good example is the Hong Kong Government management of the slopes with the Geo-Technical team. It is obviously a very expensive exercise and a long term protection for the Rakyat, and only the Government can afford these expenses. We should study the model in HK, and other countries, and put on check and control to ensure implementation and the least abuse of the budget for such a Geo-Technical team. It is high time, and this will help the Government in terms of fiscal policy especially we need the spending amid the global crisis and redeem the pride of Malaysia. We urge parties concerned whether the Pakatan or Barisan Nasional, this is the time to show what you got, and put the “money where the mouth is”. Landslides never think of race, politicians, religion and etc, and let this be a warning from mother nature. You don’t take care of it, you will be responsible for it, just like Global Warming.I am hopeful Malaysia will be like what Obama says as well “Change We Can Believe”, it is not about parties, race, it is about Malaysia. We must listen to the Rakyat, else you will be irrelevant.

This is the time, and we hope this is not just about a “Dream”, we hope Malaysia will Berjaya. Let us get the momentum going on to solve issues and not blame each other. Keep on the good works, and there will be solutions.

77. mrsD - December 17, 2008

I just wonder how these people; the greedy developers & whoever involved with the approval of the development able to sleep at night after all the things that happened..
Keep up the good work. Hope PKR can do so much better & prove to us
why we should NOT vote for BN ever again..

78. Global Voices Online » Malaysia: To Live By The Slopes - December 19, 2008

[...] assemblywoman, Elizabeth Wong, wrote on her blog: One of the earliest policy decision made by the new Selangor state govt of Pakatan Rakyat was to [...]

79. RHui - December 24, 2008

It is good that current state government made such a policy to ban level 3 and 4. But wasn’t the current govenrment or MPAJ supposed to do the soil tests and monitoring the slope even after the March 8th 2008. The responsibility lies with the State Goverment who also promised to do such monitoring that they failed to do. Even if they had done it, why do the need to do it again after the landslide. Something smell fishy here. Even the current MB said is alright to live on a hilly area but we need to mitigate the risks. And that lies on MPAJ and policy of the current state government. THIS landslide should rest on the current administration of MPAJ and the STATE government in General who failed to deliver yet again their promises.

80. a naina - January 30, 2009

we have purchased a house in ukay perdana(serena garden) b4 the recent landslide.we have paid about 20% of the price. now the developer is claiming for the next 20%. we are fearful . The project is situated in the landslide belt ,please help us. how we can go about finding the project is safe and all safeguards have been taken by the developer and all the relevant agencies/authorities have done reassessment of the project after the landslide.which are the agencies involved and who are the consultants. kindly reply takes.
regards
Naina

EW: We will be in touch with you.


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