Unfair to attack Khalid over Taman Rimba Kiara project

    (Updated )

    LETTER | We refer to the letter A stubborn and ill-advised FT minister.

    Many were taken aback when the above writer lost his/her cool and all the characteristics of the middle-class that we know and bombarded Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad with some uncalled-for remarks.

    The letter was clearly one-sided, misleading and malicious to a certain extent with the author asking for Khalid’s resignation. One can’t help but wonder as to the real intention of the writer.

    We are here to rebut the writer's accusations by shedding some light on the crux of the matter all of which were not included in the above letter.

    As ones who were born and bred in Kuala Lumpur and call Taman Tun Dr Ismail home, let us show how we air our views in a more cultured and civilised way.

    We are not here to defend Khalid but we have been following this Taman Kiara Rimba case with relatives and neighbours we call friends since small and can only say that there are always two sides of the story and it would be unfair for Khalid if the truth goes untold.

    The development project involves the building of eight 50-storey luxury condominium towers and one block of affordable homes and this was approved in 2012 by the then FT minister, Tengku Adnan Mansor or also known as “Ku Nan”.

    The luxury condominiums subsidised the cost of building the block of affordable homes which is meant for 100 families living in the wooden longhouses for the past 36 years on the same piece of land that had been rezoned.

    Through this agreement, the 100 families will get their apartments for free while another 100 units will be sold to their second-generation family members at 50 percent of the market price.

    This is in order to fulfil the promise made to them when they were first moved to this location by the BN government at that point in time.

    For the record, the units in the wooden longhouses are 400 square feet with no rooms. These families have been forced to stay under this appalling condition for 36 years.

    This development project was initially planned on a piece of land originally zoned as “an open area” and which was subsequently rezoned in 2013 for mixed development.

    As a result of this rezoning, which was opposed by the residents there from day one, a development order was issued for the project to take place.

    So here is the part where Khalid, who was only appointed as the FT minister in May 2018 upon the birth of “Malaysia Baru”, was criticised for his unwillingness to cancel the development project in the name of acting in the interest of the TTDI residents, the longhouse residents, the developer and DBKL.

    By the way, for some reason, the opposition to this development project was a major campaign issue during the 14th GE by Pakatan Harapan under the banner of “Save Taman Rimba Kiara”.

    In order to be fair to Khalid, we would reiterate that this project was approved by Ku Nan.

    Tengku Adnan Mansor

    From what we hear, the development order (DO) has been signed and all monies have been paid − what this means is that Khalid took over the ministry with the agreement having been signed, sealed and delivered.

    Khalid had on many occasions explained that if he been the minister in 2012, he would not have allowed the project to take place. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

    It is obvious to all that the situation has changed since 2012 but to expect Khalid to simply pretend as though nothing has changed is not only unfair but foolhardy.

    To recap, the issue of the legality of the DO has been challenged in court by the residents of TTDI and on both occasions, the court eventually ruled out that the DO is legal.

    We are surprised the writer of the above letter did not curse the judges as he/she has Khalid Samad. And for those who still claim the DO is illegal, then surely, they are the stubborn ones, not Khalid?

    If the DO is legal, as judged by the courts, it is obvious that cancelling the DO will have its consequences.

    The developer had earlier clarified that they have spent RM155 million on the project. At the same time, the Gross Development Value (GDV) of the project is roughly RM3 billion.

    If the project is cancelled, DBKL would have to pay at least RM155 million excluding interest and costs and excluding loss in profits should the developer claim it.

    They would be well within their right to do so and the compensation for the loss in profits for a RM3 billion GDV project is beyond us. But we know it would be significant.

    Not only that, the residents of the longhouses would have no homes built for them. The writer says, “be creative, find a solution” but he/she is unable to present one besides telling DBKL to pay “for it all”. And the writer has the audacity to ask Khalid to be “creative”.

    In other words, the writer wishes DBKL to pay RM500 million “for it all” which is what it will probably come to taking into consideration interest, costs, loss in profits for the developer and the building of new homes for the longhouse residents.

    We, for one, as residents of Kuala Lumpur, would rather see the RM500 million used by DBKL for KL residents in many other ways such as the improvement of public facilities including at parks throughout KL including Taman Rimba Kiara.

    We sympathise with Khalid. He came in at a time when the project already had so many things with it going on and we saw him trying his best to find the best possible solution taking into consideration the wishes of TTDI residents, the longhouse residents, the developer and DBKL.

    He came to the town hall function and gave his views, frankly and openly. Balancing the demands of all four parties is far more difficult than what the above did - thinking of his/her own agenda only.

    If Khalid is able to scale down the size of the development with the agreement of the developer while getting proper houses for the longhouse residents built and saving DBKL from having to pay half a billion, why not?

    Maybe we can save half or more than half of the land area originally earmarked for the development meaning the residents would still achieve a meaningful victory.

    At the same time, the developer gets to make some money albeit somewhat less than he originally intended and the longhouse residents get their new homes. This would be a win-win situation for all, taking into consideration the circumstances we are faced with now - not the circumstances of 2012.

    The longhouse residents would get an asset worth RM450,000 per family and that is a lot better than the low-cost units they would have been given some 36 years ago. It would mean their long wait would be somewhat compensated.

    Finally, we would like to say that the way the writer above ridiculed Khalid shows a “smarter than thou” attitude. Perhaps he or she should try thinking things through before writing? And understand that one can have differences in opinion without having to ridicule another? #MindYourLanguage #SokongKhalid

    The views expressed here are those of the authors/contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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