Friends Of Bukit Kiara (FoBK), the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) and the Trail Association Of Kuala Lumpur And Selangor (TRAKS) holds a dialogue with the two GE13 candidates for the Segambut parliamentary seats, Lim Li Peng and Jayanthi Devi Balaguru, whereas they will pledge to gazette Bukit Kiara once elected.
The planned destruction of Bukit Kiara by JLN, DBKL and Berjaya
Candidate Lim Li Peng (Democratic Action Party) Makes Green Pledge To Save Bukit Kiara As Permanent Forest Reserve
Candidate Jayanthi Devi Balaguru (Barisan Nasional) Makes Also A Green Pledge To Save Bukit Kiara As Permanent Forest Reserve
Former French President Jacques Chirac, was quoted saying “A politician’s promises only bind those who believe them.” People of Segambut, it’s up to you to engage now and prove this is wrong.
“There is no greater calamity than to under-estimate the strength of your enemy. For to under-estimate the strength of your enemy is to lose your treasure. Therefore, when opposing troops meet in battle, victory belongs to the grieving side” - Lao Tze
In Defence Of A De-fence-less Bukit Kiara
It began in late 2011 with the erection of an unsightly metal fencing 3.6 meters high along the famed trails of the forest in Bukit Kiara. (coordinates 3°8′5″N 101°38′28″E). Dubbed The Great Wall “ by TRAKS (Trails Association of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor), the battle-cry was sounded when bulldozers moved into a tranquil, defence-less Bukit Kiara to clear swathes of forest to make needless temporary tracks and roads causing collateral damage to flora and fauna, soil erosion, pollution to pristine streams downhill and fragmentation of existing trails network.
These trails have been designed and painstakingly crafted by TRAKS volunteers for bikers, hashers, runners and hikers taking into account sustainable and minimum environmental impact on Bukit Kiara based on IMBA International Standards and Trail-Care concept. Famously touted as “the only such world-class green lung in the heart of the city” the 37 kilometer trails have show-cased Bukit Kiara and Malaysia on the international tourist map. Since 2007, Bukit Kiara had been designated with approval by Cabinet as “Taman Awam Berskala Besar i.e. TABB or Large Scale Public Park of 466.86 acres but its gazettement remains elusive till today.
In defence of a defenceless Bukit Kiara, TRAKS volunteers turned to film-making to record and disseminate virally the damage and “rape” of what is sacred ground to them and a refuge to thousands of park-users.
An activist, aided by TRAKS volunteers, ignited a petition campaign launched by Friends of Bukit Kiara (FoBK), an NGO formed in 2001 to protect and preserve Bukit Kiara. The Save Bukit Kiara campaign is aimed at urging the authorities to:
Walking The Talk To Save Bukit Kiara
Malaysian Nature Society, a key ally in FoBK, fronted the Awareness Walk of 15 July 2012 as the campaign gained momentum with thousands of people rallying to save Bukit Kiara. The Awareness Walk was successful in raising awareness of the need to protect and preserve one of the last remaining green lungs in the city for sustainable development. The campaign was also instrumental in immediately halting construction activities on Bukit Kiara. Assurances were given by the Minister of Local Government and Housing that Bukit Kiara will be gazetted as a Public Park upon the resolution of the issue of leases of specified lots to two large corporations.
What seemed to be a “victory” for the aggrieved side was short-lived however. In October 2012, FoBK was informed by the Mayor of City Hall (Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur or DBKL) of Berjaya Corp’s development plans to build a commercial building, condos, a huge stadium, exhibition hall, hospital, etc. in the adjacent leased equestrian lots as well as a private access road to the Bukit Kiara trails!!!
An FoBK Coalition comprising of 44 Residents Associations (RAs) and 19 Environmental NGOs in the Klang Valley was quickly forged to counter the threat of commercial development and to press for the gazettement of Bukit Kiara as a Forest Park. A Save Bukit Kiara Walk took off on 17 March 2013 after FoBK’s appeal letter of 9 December 2012 to the PM, who passed the buck to the Mayor of DBKL, was met with indifference.
The second protest Walk reflected growing support for the Save Bukit Kiara cause as about 3,000 people showed up that Sunday morning. Supporters came all walks of life; concerned with questions of sustainable development, global warming, pollution, traffic congestion, possible increasing crime and even devaluation of property values in the surrounding areas that may accompany the proposed development. Children held posters of “save the forest and animals” while a banner cried out with “what about us?” to plead with the authorities and developers not to compromise the needs of future generations.
Will the protests of the grieving side in opposing the proposed development plans of Berjaya Corp be heard and halt development in and around Bukit Kiara? Will the primary objective of FoBK’s campaign to gazette Bukit Kiara as a Forest Park since Cabinet approval in 2007 be finally translated into reality in 2013 by the authorities?
The Ever- elusive Gazettement Of Bukit Kiara
According to the authorities, the gazettement of Bukit Kiara is held up because DBKL has not surrendered the leased equestrian Lot 52314 of 62.57 acres back to the Federal government due to a caveat placed on it in April 2008 by Berjaya Corp. (S- 21NCVC-52-2011, para 17).
Why did Berjaya place a caveat on Lot 52314 in 22 April 2008 after Cabinet had already on 27 June 2007 approved for the specific Lot to be part of Bukit Kiara in TABB outlined in the Kuala Lumpur Master Plan? Why was the registration of Berjaya Corp.’s caveat placed 15 years from entry in 1993, not rejected by the authorities then on justifiable grounds in the public’s interests? Why was the monthly rental of RM5,000 paid by Berjaya Corp. from 1993 till October 2000 for Lot 52314 of a good 62.57 acres further reduced to a mere RM2000 thereafter till 2010 ‘out of goodwill”? ( S-21NCVC -52-2011, para 38).
Approval for surrender of Lot 52314 back to the government had also been agreed by the Federal Territory Land Working Committee on 29 December 2009. The decision was conveyed to DBKL vide its letter dated 12 February 2010. Why did DBKL take more than a year to issue notice to Berjaya Corp. to surrender Lot 52314 only on 25 February 2011? ( S-21NCVC-52-2011, paras 35 & 41)
The High Court Ruling in the case of DBKL vs Bukit Kiara Resort Bhd( KBRB) of Berjaya Corp on Lot 52314 to remove Berjaya’s caveat ordered for a Lease Agreement to be executed between DBKL and Berjaya. The Court dismissed DBKL’s application for removal of Berjaya’s private caveat with costs on 21 September 2011 (S-21NCVC-10-2011, paras 72- 77). Why didn’t DBKL appeal against the High Court Ruling in the interest of an anxious public impatient with the elusive gazettement of Bukit Kiara?
Did DBKL follow the guidelines spelt out in the National Council for Local Government (NCLG) vide a Policy formulated on 9 August 1999 which states very clearly that “For open space that is not surrendered, action must be taken to ensure that it becomes government land and be subsequently reserved and gazetted”?
Lot 52314 comprised of 20 acres of open spaces ( Parcel D) and 43 acres of polo field and grandstand ( Parcel E) which will come within the ambit of the NCLG 1999 Policy on “open spaces”. According to former Town Councillor Mak Khuin Weng, - Our Right To Open Spaces - The Nut Graph, 15 November 2010 - the Policy cannot be ignored as the NCLG is defined under Article 95A of the Federal Constitution. Since Article 95A mandates that the policies of the NCLG be followed, the failure to implement the policy is tantamount to contempt of the Federal Constitution. Was the NCGL Policy adhered to by DBKL?
Why was compulsory acquisition of Lot 52314 of 62.57 acres also not considered by the government under the Land Acquisition Act 1960 in the interests of the public to enable the gazettement of Bukit Kiara, one of the last remaining green lungs in the city and a national treasure to the people?
Development In Bukit Kiara – For Profit?
According to The Star dated 4 December 2012 “City Hall told to separate Bukit Kiara land” the Mayor was quoted as saying “We have to follow the court order and nothing can be done now”. The report added that DBKL had “also proposed to the developer to include a hospital, community facilities and an international school in their project”.
Did the Court Ruling order DBKL to separate Kiara Land or to approve development on lot 52314? (S-21NCVC-10-2011 paras 72-77). On what authority did DBKL have to separate Kiara Land or approve any development on Bukit Kiara in conflict with what is expressed in the Title or upheld by the FT Ministry?
A Title search by FoBK on 18 March 2013 on Lot 50642 of 69.8 acres shows that the “land was to be used for equestrian and recreational purposes only…”. Similarly, a Title search on Lot 52314 also explicitly states “for equestrian, recreation and polo grounds only”.
Why then is any form of development even considered by DBKL since Section 108 of the National Land Code 1965 says a local authority cannot over-ride the ‘expressed conditions” stated in the Land Titles? Isn’t DBKL’s action seen to be in conflict with the directive of the Deputy Chief Secretary of the Ministry Of Federal territory and Urban Welfare who had said on 6 January 2010 in a meeting between DBKL and Berjaya Corp. that the government still upholds its decision NOT to allow any development in Lot 52314 and Lot 50642 based on the terrain and surroundings? (S-21NCC-52-2011, para 21)
A Fierce Green Fire
In the light of the questions revolving around the disputed Lot 52314 of 62.57 acres, a Title search was also conducted on 16 April 2013 on the leased Measat Lot 54268 of 100.154 acres in Bukit Kiara. This lot had been leased to Measat Digicast Sdn. Bhd in April 1998 for a term of 30 years. Why is there no pertinent information in the Title regarding category of land use, expressed conditions and whether it is a qualified or final title as it has been leased since 1998? Why was a caveat registered on the Lot in 29 April 2009 after Cabinet had already clearly designated it in June 2007 as an integral part of TABB in the KL Master Plan? Who had placed the caveat?
Will the questions raised regarding the leased lots 52314 and 54268 be addressed by the authorities to fulfill the government’s promises to place the interests of the public first to finally gazette Bukit Kiara?
Will Berjaya Corp. chose to leave a lasting legacy of a national treasure in its natural state as a ‘gift’ to the people and future generations to remember it by?
Will ‘victory” be rightfully accorded to the anxious public and the grieving side in its battle to commit the government of the day to finally gazette Bukit Kiara i. e. TABB of 466.86 acres as a “ Forest Public Park” as endorsed by Cabinet in June 2007?
Ultimately, “victory” in any battle can be achieved by only you, the people who can save Bukit Kiara, our national treasure from being developed for profit. A US documentary film entitled “A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle for a Living Planet” poses this blazing question to all of us:“ If they can turn The Grand Canyon into a ‘cash register’, is any national park safe?”
The answer is up to you.