It has been a little over a month since a stay application by Taman Desa residents in Kuala Lumpur’s High Court was dismissed. The application was filed to stop a high-rise residential development named The Address, pending a judicial review that went unheard, or in OfficialSpeak is ‘pending’.
It is hard not to be cynical, not only as a fellow Taman Desa resident but as a Malaysian citizen who has been left frustrated by our government’s highly irresponsible behaviour as of late. On a bittersweet note, us Taman Desa residents are certainly not alone.
Across the Klang Valley, and beyond, numerous citizen groups and associations have risen in response to increasingly unsustainable practices by developers, which are haphazardly approved by Government bodies such as DBKL.
TTDI Residents VS Profit
A case in point would be the highly-publicised Taman Tun Dr. Ismail project that threatens the future of the neighbourhood’s beloved Taman Rimba Kiara. In mid-December last year, the resident’s application for a stay order against (yet another) high-rise apartment project scheduled to be built on the park lands was dismissed in KL’s High Courts.
As a layperson, I would like to give our Courts the benefit of doubt and trust in the process of law and order. Surely, the application was dismissed for good reason, right? One would like to think so. Sadly, this is not true. According to High Court Judge Kamaludin Md Said, one of the reasons for his decision was the fact that the condominium project landowner Yayasan Persekutuan and developer Memang Perkasa Sdn Bhd had already invested RM115 million into the controversial project.
That is not good enough a reason. So, in effect, what our Court is saying is that monetary investment is more important than the needs of the people and the sustainability of our environment. In effect, RM115 million, is more important than the citizens of TTDI and their access to Natural resources. Not only did the residents have their application dismissed, they were also ordered to pay RM40,000 for the cost of the lawsuit. Mind you, this money is coming directly from the pockets of TTDI residents – while the developers have forked out nothing.
The next date set for Court was meant to be January 6th but I couldn’t find any newer update as I am writing this, which probably means, predictably, that the date has been postponed for some inane reason or another. A ploy to buy time, from our spineless government who is absolutely in cahoots with unscrupulous developers who do not think twice about paying off officials within DBKL and other related parties. You may ask what proof I have in making such a strong statement – do allow me to elaborate using the case study happening right in my backyard.
Nonsense In My Backyard
If you had read the link above on Taman Desa, you may be able to imagine the fear and horror of my fellow neighbours. The construction of three 30-storey condominium towers on a narrow strip of TNB reserve land, surrounded by three schools and low-rise condominiums should be enough to explain the above, but maybe you don’t see the big picture.
Well, you might say – so what? Nobody died, right? The crane crash was just an accident, a slip up perhaps, in the team’s safety SOPs. Firstly, there shouldn’t have been an incident in the first place. Any developer and construction company worth their salt would know to put Health and Safety issues first, and this is a cardinal rule that cannot be broken. It is a matter of good ethics and responsible business.
But wait. I forgot. We are in Malaysia, where apa-apa pun boleh (anything also can)! Businesses do not operate responsibly here because they don’t have to! The interests of corporations are put in front of the people’s needs and this has been on the rise.
Secondly, Taman Desa residents had already applied for a judicial review against the new developments, which were pending in court. After the crane crash, they could not ignore the problem any further and have submitted a memorandum asking for real engagement with the developers. Until today, they have yet to hear anything.
Malaysia Made A Promise
So, no hope in corporations to preserve our Environment. But surely, we can then rely on our government to do what is right, right? Well, not really – because it looks like they’d rather spend time telling the cops to go after resident protestors.
Did you know that Malaysia has adopted UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and recently, even played host to the 9th World Urban Forum? Of course, much of the talk around the forum was spent on petty politicking between Israel and Malaysia but I digress from my point which is: why not consult the people and preserve our environment before it’s too late?
Why Do I Care? Why Should You Care?
Aiyah, it’s human nature la, we will only act when something happens. Anyway, you might say, why are you so bothered? This Taman Desa thing did happen in your backyard, but you didn’t get affected, right? You didn’t feel your condo vibrating, kan, so kenapa sibuk (why are you being a busybody)?
I am cynical enough to anticipate these questions and this is my response: Because at some point, I will be affected. It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, but that day will come. If I don’t speak up today, I may wake up a year, or two years from now, with a basement car park as my bedroom view instead of Taman Desa’s gorgeous crop of greenery.
I may wake up a few years from now, and get stuck in the mother of all traffic jams because Taman Desa’s populations per acre has risen from 60 to 650 in just a few short years.
I may wake up one day and see that my beautiful, old neighbourhood is crumbling around me because it can no longer support so many new high-rise developments. As far-fetched as that sounds, it’s not entirely impossible. That’s why I choose to be sibuk and say something. This is why I am writing and speaking about these issues – because I am applying foresight by saying that what affects my neighbours, affect me too. What affects one, affects all – that is the true meaning of humanity.
What has happened to our sense of community? Am I only allowed to care when I am directly affected? Only when a crane has fallen onto my child, or my parking spot, or my school? We, as a society, need to start thinking for the long-term. Approving high-rise buildings for the sake of ‘development’ is NOT progress and it is not effective long-term thinking. In fact, I would argue that it barely constitutes any “thinking” at all.
Let’s all start to care beyond the tip of our noses. Let us make it known that these sort of practices and behaviour will not be tolerated by the people any longer.
Let’s move away from the mainstream school of thought of aping the West when it comes to our consumption and development patterns.
We are better than that, we must be better than that, in order to give an Earth that will provide for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Let us not give them a home that is barely alive, because that is what is happening, unless we stop it, together.