Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tiada kuasa tangkap pekerja asing - Malaysiakini

Oleh Muda Mohd Noor | Apr 30, 08 4:41pm

Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpurl (DBKL) tidak boleh mengambil tindakan ke atas pembantu kedai warga asing kerana perkara itu bawah bidang kuasa Jabatan Imigresen, kata pengarah jabatan peniaga kecil dewan itu Ibrahim Yusof.

"Kami hanya boleh mengambil tindakan ke atas pemilik gerai terbabit," katanya kepada pemberita di ibu negara hari ini.

Beliau berkata, peniaga yang mengupah pekerja asing boleh didenda RM300 untuk kesalahan pertama, kesalahan kedua RM600 dan seterusnya boleh dibawa ke mahkamah jika terus berdegil

Menurutnya, DBKL telah mengenal pasti sebanyak 473 lesen peniaga kecil telah disewakan kepada orang asing dan pihaknya telah membatalkan lesen-lesen tersebut.

"Manakala jumlah penjaja haram ialah 5,000 orang tetapi kita sukar untuk mengesan mereka kerana bijak melarikan diri apabila penguatkuasa DBKL membuat operasi," katanya.

Ibrahim berkata, kawasan-kawan yang menjadi tumpuan peniaga yang menggunakan khidmat pekerja asing antaranya di sekitar Pasar Pudu, Jalan Petaling dan pasar borong di Selayang.

"Kita mengenal pasti 61 penjaja di Jalan Petaling menggunakan pekerja asing," katanya lagi.

Beliau berkata, pemegang lesen penjaja kecil tidak boleh menyewakan kepada warga asing atau menggaji mereka seperti syarat undang-undang kecil perlesenan penjaja dan gerai (Wilayah Persekutuan Kuaal Lumpur) 1989.

Ibrahim juga menjelaskan, pihaknya sedang berusaha untuk memindahkan penjaja di tepi jalan ke tempat niaga di dalam bangunan pada tahun 2012.

Katanya, DBKL mengambil keputusan untuk tidak menggalakkan lagi penjaja di tepi jalan kerana jumlah yang ada sudah ramai.

More may get free water - The Star

SHAH ALAM: April 30, 2008

Consumers in Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya may be able to enjoy the first 20 cu m of water free if the Kuala Lumpur City Hall and Putrajaya Corporation are agreeable to the Selangor state government's calculations.

Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said although both Federal Territories also get their water supply from Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) the offer for now was only for Selangor residents, who would get the free water from June 1.

He said the state government would present to the Kuala Lumpur City Hall and the Putrajaya Corporation its calculations on how the free water supply was made possible in Selangor and ask if they want to join the exercise.

“If we can work out the calculations with (the local authorities in) Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya then we can extend the free water to these two places too,” he told a press conference after launching the Animal Homes Exhibition at the state museum yesterday.

He said the state government could not make a decision for Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya as it only had jurisdiction in Selangor.

However, according to industry sources, the state government is reluctant to provide free water to the two Federal Territories as it would further reduce profits to the state government.

The state government holds a 30% stake in Syabas through state-owned investment arm Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Bhd (KDEB) and feels that the profits belong to its taxpayers and thus it is all right to reduce them to benefit Selangor residents.

Khalid said the free water scheme for Selangor would be introduced as scheduled and the state government was working with Syabas on the implementation as well as changes in the billing.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pedestrian project a monument to shoddy work - The Star

April 29, 208 By YIP YOKE TENG

Behind the hoardings at the busy Masjid Jamek LRT station, construction of the Pedestrian Plaza is under way to integrate the two LRT lines and shield commuters from the weather. However, the multi-million ringgit project might have failed to meet these objectives and may even become a danger to users.

THE Pedestrian Plaza at the Masjid Jamek LRT station may be one of the most anticipated projects to rectify a major problem in the city's public transport system but the RM5mil development seems to have become another public display of Kuala Lumpur City Hall's shoddy monitoring of projects.

City Hall Urban Transportation Department director Dr Leong Siew Mun said the plaza was aimed at providing further integration with the Ampang/Sri Petaling-line LRT station and to protect commuters from the weather.

It is supposed to fix what has been described as “a shame of the city” – that the two LRT lines at the interchange station are located away from each other and commuters are exposed to the weather when travelling from one side to the other.

Work started on the project early last year. In an earlier public announcement, it was said that the main entrance to the Kelana Jaya-line station would be closed from Oct 22 last year to Jan 23 this year for the construction. However, the entrance is still closed till today.

Dr Leong conceded that there was a “slight delay due to several issues arising from day one of the project, namely site constraints, inclement weather and technical problems.”

As the structure looks to be nearing completion, StarMetro investigated the site and was shocked to find that those sweet promises are not forthcoming.

First of all, the roof – in a fancy multi-layered design – does not shield commuters from rain or shine.

Amazingly, the ticketing counters and the ticket-vending machines are located outdoors.

Secondly, the Kelana Jaya line and Ampang/Sri Petaling line stations are supposed to be linked by the same platform so that commuters can go between the two sides with ease.

However, a wide gap now runs between the two and the stretch had better be fenced up as the gap is so deep that anyone falling into it would suffer severe injuries.

If the gap is still there after construction is completed, commuters will then have to use the same old routes in Jalan Melayu or Jalan Melaka to get to the other station.

If that is the case, what is the point of spending RM5mil on the Pedestrian Plaza?

Public safety is another major concern. Railings are low with horizontal bars that will enable children to easily climb over.

The floor will also be slippery whenever it rains since the roof does not cover the structure.

Earlier, LRT users had pointed out that the gutters of the roof contain stagnant water and could be a mosquito-breeding spot.

When informed of such concerns, City Hall assured the public that they would constantly monitor the site.

The high ceiling of the project would also make maintenance like changing bulbs and cleaning difficult.

These structures not only show that public funds have not been wisely spent, but also give an indication of the future problems commuters may face when the building is finally ready to be used.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Massive tree felling at site of former Lady Templer Hospital - The Star

April 28, 2008 By YIP YOKE TENG

IT WOULD have been further damage to the environment, if the folks of Taman Midah, Cheras, had not intervened and voiced their objection at the massive tree felling at the former site of the Lady Templer Hospital.

All but one block of the hospital covering over 20.2 ha (50 acres) had been demolished to make way for a RM340mil rehabilitation hospital, a project under the Health Ministry.

The building had been abandoned for more than 15 years; only a small section was used for the Cheras Health Clinic.

Work at the site comprising earth works and tree felling started about three months ago and with the increasing damage to the green lung surrounding the area, the residents became worried.

However, their worry turned into shock when Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai discovered that the contractor of the project didn’t even have a Development Order to begin with.

This was also confirmed by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) officials from the Public Works Department and Landscape Department, who visited the site with Tan, residents and representatives from the contractor recently.

Tan said that he welcomed such a project in the neighbourhood, since it served a good purpose, but he added that the contractor should not have started the work without prior approval from DBKL.

He said the contractor must obtain a development order prior to doing any site work so that the relevant departments could monitor to ensure every aspect of the project was safe.

“You have nearly 50,000 people living in Taman Midah and without proper monitoring, this project might affect the residents with negative repercussions on the environment such as flooding, soil erosion and others,” he said.

According to the contractor no development was being carried out on the site, just earth works to build a silt trap.

Tan was not convinced and said he would seek immediate stop-work order from the City Hall.

Housing relief for Kg Pakar residents - The Star

April 28, 2008 By DEBBIE CHAN

MOST of the residents of Kampung Pakar, Sg Besi, have been offered public housing at PPR Muhibbah in Puchong after a thorough investigation by Kuala Lumpur City Hall.

Some 83 households would be relocated to the Muhibbah flats while another six are awaiting pending appeals as they were not included in the census conducted during the floods last year.

“These six households were not affected by the floods and were not counted in the census done by City Hall then.

“We have appealed to the authority and hope that these six families will get a place in public housing as well,” Seputeh MP Theresa Kok said.

The rest of the squatter households have been disqualified from public housing as they were not families or were occupied by foreign workers.

The squatters were asked to leave their houses by June 17, 2008, to make way for the construction of new factories by the developer GSS Properties Sdn Bhd.

GSS Properties has offered to pay compensation to the squatters and the value of the compensation was made based on the sizes of the houses with payments ranging from RM2,000 to RM6,000 per family.

The squatters recently voiced their concerns that City Hall might not be able to provide the public housing units in time. They are also unsatisfied with the valuation of the compensation that seemed to be inconsistent.

“Some of the residents complained that the compensation values differed even when the houses were of the same size.

“I advised the residents that if they were not happy with the compensation value, they should get surveyors to measure their houses and provide some sort of documentation so that I could then talk to the developers,” Kok said.

Kok added that Kampung Pakar was a tough situation as some of the squatters were located on public land while some were on private land.

“At the meeting with the Federal Territories Ministry, we tried to figure out if the houses were on public land as City Hall procedures call for priority to be given to squatters on public land.

“However, at the moment, most of the squatters, regardless of the status, have been offered a place at the Muhibbah flats,” Kok said.

In a statement issued by the developer, it stated that it did not have any objections for the residents to tear down their own homes provided they cleaned up before or on the due date given.

The developer also stated that the compensation is purely an ex-gratia payment based on the size of the houses.

More than 95% of the squatters have signed the agreement to vacate and have agreed to move by the due date.

Kok also advised the squatters to take up the offer of public housing and said that the main priority for her is that everyone gets a home to live in. According to City Hall statistics, there are about 40,000 people with no proper homes in Kuala Lumpur.

TTDI folks appalled by development plan - The Star

April 28, 2008

TAMAN Tun Dr. Ismail (TTDI) residents who live along Jalan Burhanuddin Helmi are appalled by a new development plan for the area.

The project, a 20-storey twin tower office and apartment with three levels of basement carparks was said to have been approved by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and clearing works had already begun.

The site is located on the land currently occupied by Makbul Nasi Kandar restaurant. Rasta food court, which had also been on the land, has been shifted to another location in the vicinity.

Gone forever: The land where the Rasta food court once stood is being cleared for the project.

Resident Aznei Jaffni said the residents along Lorong Burhanuddin Helmi 1received a letter from DBKL in November 2007 informing them of the development plan and asking for consensus.

“We wrote a reply objecting to the plan based on several factors involving the environment, safety and traffic in the area. But we received no replies from DBKL.

“The next thing we know, the foodcourt had been shifted and they are breaking the ground, ignoring our interests as residents.

“Only residents living along Lorong Burhanuddin Helmi 1 received the letter from DBKL, those living on other nearby streets did not receive it,” Aznel said.

Another resident See Kot Yeng said the development would bring more traffic to the already congested business centre.

“It will be a high-density development with office blocks and apartments, so you can imagine the traffic flow.

“When the work starts, there will also be noise and air pollution,” he said.

Jalan Burhanuddin Helmi is a trunk road that connects motorists to Bandar Utama, the Damansara-Puchong Highway (LDP) and to other parts of TTDI.

It is sandwiched between a business district and a housing area.

Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng said he would bring the matter to DBKL and work with the residents to resolve the matter.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


April 27, 2008

THE only remaining green lung in Bangsar is slotted for development. But not if the residents of Jalan Medang Serai, Bukit Bandaraya, have any say
in it.

Residents are up in arms against a proposed high-rise luxury condominium project by Bandar Raya Developments Berhad.
The developer has announced it will be putting up eight blocks of 212 luxury condominium units and multi-level car park.

Of the eight blocks, two blocks will be 28-storeys high and the rest 11 and six storeys.

A City Hall notice on the project had stated that the project would increase the density in the area from 30 people per acre to 175 people per acre —an increase of 500 per cent.

This has caused residents in the Medang Serai area, including those living in townhouses, Tivoli Villa and Bangsar Puteri, to see red as they claimed that the proposed development would not only destroy their only patch of green lung but also cause massive congestion in an already congested area.

“The dust and noise will be a health hazard to the residents and there is no logic in increasing the density by 500 per cent,” said Medang Serai Residents Action Committee pro-tem president Tunku Zurie Tunku Izham.

She said residents were also shocked that the project was being promoted and advertised in a newsletter and on its website although City Hall claimed that it had not issued any development order.

“It smacks of arrogance on the developer’s part to promote the project when no approval has been granted,” said another resident, who had been living in the area for more than 20 years.

However, Gunasegaran Naidu, deputy-director of Monitoring and Enforcement (National Housing Development) in an e-mail to a resident representative, who had lodged a complaint with the Housing and Local Government Ministry, said the brochure did not advertise any sale.

“It was an announcement that BRDB will be launching a con- dominium project in the area.

Neither was it an exercise to register prospective buyers,” s a id Na idu .

The residents had also organised a signature campaign and sent a petition to, among others, the mayor, the director-general of City Hall, the Lembah Pantai member of parliament and the Federal Territories Minister.

Residents had also put forward their concerns at a hearing called by City Hall but to date, the anxious residents have not been told of the outcome.

“We urge the authorities not to approve the project. A massive high-rise project such as the one being proposed is not suitable as the Medang Serai area is made up of mostly low-rise houses and apartments.

“With the current flash floods that we have been experiencing in Kuala Lumpur, we should not be cutting down more trees,” said Tunku Zurie.

Environmental experts have also pointed out that sacrificing forests for high-rise buildings negate efforts to promote tree planting in cities.

Many have pointed out that it is a paradox for City Hall to spend millions on tree planting while at the same time, projects were be- ing approved which destroyed the greenery.

Late last year, Datuk Bandar Datuk Ab Hakim Borhan had stated that City Hall was spending an additional RM5 million on tree planting in the city.

Another RM94 million has been allocated in this year’s budget for the building of recreational parks and green a re a s.

In 1980, City Hall had admitted that there was only 0.2ha of green open space available per 1,000 persons —which, even at that time, was considered insufficient.

“If so, why does City Hall con- tinue to approve projects at the expense of the remaining urban forests?” asked a resident, who said that the pressure from urban living requires the community to seek relief and the urban forests are a fine example of providing a soothing atmosphere.

Builder: We are only rectifying flaws in Damansara 21 project - The Star

April 26, 2008

DAMANSARA 21project developer SDB Properties Sdn Bhd in a statement issued yesterday, explained that the work carried out at the site in Medan Damansara were to rectify the project’s shortcomings.

The company reassured residents that it did not ignore City Hall’s stop-work order and that the work under way were in accordance with City Hall’s order.

The work is to build a retaining wall between Jalan Setia Bestari and the construction site.

The developer is also required to erect hoardings at the perimeter of the construction area, plant grass on the hillslope, replace torn plastic covers as well as build drains and silt traps.

It has agreed to comply with the directives by May 20 and to report to City Hall on the project’s progress weekly.

“SDB Properties Sdn Bhd will continue to maintain the highest safety and environmental standards,” the statement read.

“We will also comply with all directives recently announced by City Hall within the agreed deadline. The company is committed to safeguarding the interests of stakeholders and the community,” it said.

The project, which began in early December, comprises 21 bungalows, costing between RM10mil and RM15mil each. Residents had objected to the project.

City Hall had issued a stop-work order and slapped a RM100,000 fine on the developer as it was found that the project did not comply with safety standards and there was no proper drainage system.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Saravanan Wants A Balanced Racial Composition Of Traders In FT

KUALA LUMPUR, April 25 (Bernama)

The Federal Territories Ministry will ensure a balanced racial composition of traders in wholesale markets, said its deputy minister, Datuk M. Saravanan.

By this, he said the ministry would ensure that every trader was given equal opportunities to run their businesses, without taking race or religion into consideration.

"In the near future, I will meet with the respective traders associations to find a way in balancing the composition of the traders," he told reporters after visiting the Kuala Lumpur Wholesale Market here Friday.

On his visit to the market, Saravanan who is also MIC information chief, expressed dissatisfaction with the racial composition of the traders there.

"Of the approximately 465 traders at the market, only 50 are Malays and three are Indians.

"However, I am satisfied with the prices of items sold at the market," he said.

On illegal traders, including foreigners, who set up stalls and sell similar items as those inside the market, Saravanan said their action would only jeopardise the businesses of the legal traders.

"Therefore, my ministry intends to work closely with the police and the immigration department to curb the problem," added the deputy minister.

Earlier, Saravanan visited the Pudu market and found the cleanliness much to be desired.

He said he would seek an explanation from the Alam Flora Sdn Bhd management on why the market's cleanliness was below par.

Friday, April 25, 2008

RM10m gone in 3 days - The Sun

PETALING JAYA (April 24, 2008): By R. Nadeswaran and Terence Fernandez

Three days after their husbands lost power to rule Selangor, the wives got into the act – plotting to dissolve a welfare body and remove almost RM10 million from its bank accounts.

But their attempts have been thwarted by Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim who wrote to the Registrar of Societies (ROS) to question the validity of the decision to dissolve the Association of Wives of State Assemblymen and Members of Parliament in Selangor (Balkis).

It is learnt that Abdul Khalid has ordered a thorough investigation and audit into the affairs of the association which was set up in 1985 to undertake welfare work.

According to documents sighted by theSun, Datin Seri Zaharah Kechik, the wife of former mentri besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo had on March 11 convened an extraordinary general meeting of the committee to dissolve Balkis and close its bank accounts. The following day, the accounts were closed, with the money transferred to another account and then to Bakti – the federal Organisation of Wives of Ministers which Balkis is affiliated to.

On March 13, the former exco members of Balkis issued a notice of dissolution to the ROS, which included amending the constitution of Balkis and establishing a new organisation – Balkis-BN, is among the names suggested.

“This was to prevent the Balkis premises (Kompleks Wawasan Balksi - KWB) and the association itself from being taken over by the new state government,” said an insider.

“Once this was done, then the money will be transferred back to the new organisation,” the insider added.

However, the ROS in a letter stated that Balkis' application for dissolution was incomplete and gave it 30 days to furnish additional information.

The constitution of Balkis states that the mentri besar's wife should be the president. Sources in the state government argue that since Mohamad Khir is no longer MB, Zaharah is no longer the president and has no power whatsoever to dissolve the association or liquidate its funds. Incidentally, the constitution also states that the organisation must remain apolitical.

Legal experts say by right, following the events of March 8, the exco headed by Zaharah should have convened an emergency meeting to discuss the handing over of Balkis to a new exco – with the new president being Abdul Khalid’s wife Puan Sri Salbiah Tunut.

Bakti, meanwhile, according to minutes of a recent meeting it held, had under advice of a sitting judge received the RM9.9 million from Balkis, which it has placed in a fixed deposit. The money would then be transferred back to the new organisation set up by the former Balkis members.

Bakti would also take over a Special Education Project involving millions of ringgit until the “new” Balkis is formed.

This is clearly goes against Balkis’ constitution which states that in the event of a dissolution, all monies must be transferred to the government or a similar fund, with the approval of the Inland Revenue Board director-general.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that Abdul Khalid had in his letter to the ROS on Wednesday (April 23) said of the amount in Balkis’ accounts, about RM850,000 was donated by state government companies – Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Bhd which gave RM268,862 last year and Perbadanan Kemajuan Negri Selangor (PKNS) which contributed RM590,379.50 between 2006 and 2007.

It is understood that Abdul Khalid is also investigating the transfer of 43,560sq ft of land in Section 7, Shah Alam, which the state government had in 2002 offered to Balkis at a nominal cost of RM250,000 (RM5.74/sq ft) for the setting up of a shelter home for women that cost RM5 million.

DBKL acts to stamp out corruption - The Star

April 25, 2008 By ESTHER CHANDRAN

A TOTAL of 10 City Hall staff have been investigated by the Anti Corruption Agency (ACA) for corruption so far.

As such, DBKL wants to improve the public’s perception of the local authority by showing transparency in conduct and to eradicate complaints of corruption among its staff.

DBKL director general Datuk Salleh Yusup said all 12,000 employees would have to attend courses and training to understand the importance of anti-corruption.

He said City Hall was working with the ACA on an integrated plan to educate its staff on the vices of corruption.

Departments considered “high risk” were those that were constantly dealing with the public.

Salleh said the Planning, Building Control, Housing Management Department, Public Works Department and Hawkers Department were among those considered “high risk”.

“The plan involves providing them with education and information on corruption as a vice, ways to stamp it out, penalty for accepting bribes and the necessary action that can be taken against those found guilty of corruption.

“The penalty for those found guilty is rather severe,” he said, adding that he hoped the efforts would deter DBKL staff from corruption.

He said DBKL staff had been sent for courses, including personal morale development, in batches since 2007.

Salleh said the training was the first of its kind to be implemented for any local authority in the country.

“We want to win back the people’s confidence and we are trying our best to educate our staff to project and portray a clean image,” he said at a meet-the-press session on Wednesday.

On another matter, Salleh said the construction of the new Datuk Keramat market would be completed by the end of May.

He said the market, complete with market space, retail area and hall that could accommodate 1,000 people, was needed to replace the old Datuk Keramat market that was rather run down and congested

Deputy FT Minister asks residents to be reasonable - The Star

April 25, 2008

AFTER years of protest with regards to flash floods, the Federal Territories Ministry has finally decided to relocate SRK (T) Ladang Bukit Jalil in Kampung Muhibah, Kuala Lumpur.

However, the decision was not well received by some residents who have been living around the school since the 50s. They had refused to move out from the area. One of the residents, S.Thiakarajan, 54, said that the flash floods were caused by a nearby construction with bad drainage system.

“During downpour, there was no proper flow of water. But now the pipes are being fixed and I am sure we can resolve the flash floods issue,” said Thiakarajan.

Deputy FT Minister Datuk M.Saravanan, who visited the site of the 60-year-old school recently, said the residents should be reasonable.

He said that there were no other Tamil schools in the FT area that had been given such a conducive location with so many facilities surrounding it. Currently the school had six classrooms with 102 students and the new school is expected to be bigger and better.

The school had been hit by flash foods more than 10 times since October and the Education Ministry had also pledged RM650,000 for building of the new school.

“We cannot allow our personal interest to destroy the future of Tamil schools in this country. The present area is just not suitable and more than half of the residents in the area had already moved out to the public housing units nearby. But the remaining ones still insist on their houses being built here,” said Saravanan.

The schools parents’ teachers’ association (PTA) president S. Balakrishnan said a meeting would be held with the parents on April 27 to notify them about the move.

“We don’t know if they would agree to the move. Lets see what happens,” said Balakrish-nan.

Earlier, Saravanan spent almost two hours visiting Hindu temples in Brickfields together with DBKL deputy director of services Datuk Mohd Amin Nordin Abd Aziz.

They identified six Hindu temples along Jalan Ang Seng that sat on illegal land.

”We are looking at an alternative site for these temples, somewhere more centralised,” he said. Saravanan said the temples currently sit on a police reserve land and once the temples are relocated, a logistic department would be built there.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Drama unfolds as cops step in to block road - The Star

April 24, 2008 By GEETHA KRISHNAN

MORE drama unfolded at Bandar Mahkota Cheras yesterday when the Kajang police temporarily closed the controversial road offering toll-free access to the Cheras-Kajang Highway.

Several patrol cars were used to block the road under the flyover leading to the Cheras 11th Mile toll plaza from 8am to 9.50am. This led to a large group of angry residents gathering at the site to protest the move.

Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai, who arrived at the scene at 9am, called Kajang OCPD Asst Comm Shakaruddin Che Mood to seek an explanation.

“I have spoken to the OCPD and he said it was done to protect road users’ safety as the traffic lights at the junction have not been synchronised.

“The police fear accidents may occur,” Tan said.

He appealed to ACP Shakaruddin to allow residents to use the road for another day, pending the outcome of the survey to determine who has the right of way over the road at a meeting at Menara MPKj in Kajang at 3pm.

Police personnel later removed their vehicles to allow motorists to pass through.

The access road built by Bandar Mahkota Cheras developer Narajaya Sdn Bhd was opened in September 2005 and closed soon after by highway concessionaire Grand Saga Sdn Bhd, who cited a loss of toll collection as the reason for the closure.

On Monday, residents defied an order from the Selangor government and opened the road.

The government had wanted a survey to be carried out with reports from the Hulu Langat Land Office, Kajang Municipal Council, Narajaya and Grand Saga.

At a press conference later, the surveyor said he needed a few more days to prepare the report and it would be ready soon

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Judicial review on Bukit Gasing development tomorrow - The Sun

KUALA LUMPUR (April 23, 2008):

The High Court here today granted a two-day extension on the suspension of all constrution work on Bukit Gasing pending a judicial review of Kuala Lumpur City Hall's decision to give Gasing Meridian Sdn Bhd planning approval to develop the hill.

The review will be heard at 3pm tomorrow following a request by counsel Sivarasa Rasiah representing the applicants, the Joint Action Committee for Bukit Gasing (JAC).

"The stay is pending the actual final hearing to determine whether the residents have a right to be given a public hearing and copies of the technical reports giving planning approval to Gasing Meridian," said Sivarasa.

The extension and tomorrow's hearing follow an ex-parte interim injunction which expired today granted by the High Court to order a halt to work on the 15.5ha site on Bukit Gasing upon which Gasing Meridian plans to develop 68 bungalows.

The review challenges City Hall's approval of the Development Order which was granted without consultation of the residents of Bukit Gasing, according to JAC counsel Derek Fernandez.

JAC representatives condemned City Hall's lack of transparency and unwillingness to cooperate with the committee.

"In 2004, Gasing Meridian sued City Hall for not giving them the approval to develop. First, Gasing Meridian appealed to City Hall's appeal board, and this was rejected. Then they followed up with action in the High Court, and Gasing Meridian lost the case, and the reason City Hall won was because of the topography of the area, which is very hilly.

"Secondly, the soil structure is very loose. Now the very same reasons that won them the case are being thrown out the window," said JAC member Johnny Yew.

"Despite the High Court's direction on March 17 that City Hall provide information to us at least one month in advance of today's hearing, we have received no documents, either approvals or technical reports until the the receipt of an affidavit yesterday confirming the order approving earth works and their opposition to stay the order granted on March 2," said Gary Yeoh, another JAC member.

"Contrary to City Hall's statement to the press that the hill is 'safe for hillside development', the developer plans to build on steep slopes. Almost 50% of the slopes are above a 25 degree gradient," he added

City Hall sets up integrity unit - The Sun

KUALA LUMPUR (April 23, 2008): By Kimberly Lau

Criticised by opposition Members of Parliament recently for being synonymous with corruption, Kuala Lumpur City Hall today announced it was setting up an integrity unit, and rolling out an integrity action plan.

Its director-general Datuk Salleh Yusup told reporters in a weekly meet-the-press session that the purpose of such an action plan was to educate the staff so that they are aware of the problem of corruption and will help to prevent it.

"We have a lot of courses for our staff but we are also sending those who are in high-risk situations, or those who have had complaints lodged against them, for special courses on corruption."

Asked how many out of its 12,000 staff members are involved in the special courses, Salleh said: "All levels of staff attend these courses, from the top to the bottom level."

He said those who were found to have been involved in any form of corruption would be punished, including being asked to resign from City Hall.

The Integrity Unit, set up under the Human Resources Department in March, will also play the role of smoothening the bureaucratic process so that there will be less opportunities for corruption. He cited the setting up of standard operating procedures and a One-Stop Centre (OSC) to increase City Hall’s efficiency.

"The time to process development plans should take, at the most, three months to approve, depending on the project size. The OSC will make it easier for people to pay their licences and such."

City Hall recently received flak from Pakatan Rakyat MPs that it was ridden with corruption. In reply, the mayor had challenged the MPs to lodge reports with the ACA if they had proof.

On grouses by Medan Damansara residents over the Damansara 21 project over the felling of trees on the hillslopes, CIty Hall Public Works Department director Siti Saffur Mansor said the developer had the right to do so.

"Their mistake in this case is not that they chopped the trees but that they did not follow the geotechnical report and do the work in stages."

She said the developers had received permission from Environment Control to begin felling trees, but were required to do it phase-by-phase.

The residents had held a protest on Sunday (April 20) complaining that the project did not have silt-traps, hoarding and a plan to prevent erosion, following which City Hall issued a stop-work order and fined the developer RM100,000 for non-compliance with safety standards.

The project which began early December comprises 21 luxury bungalows costing between RM10 million and RM15 million each.

She said engineers and technicians are being sent to the site to monitor the rectification progress every day.

The developer has promised to rectify the faults by May 20

BUKIT GASING: High Court extends injunction - NST

KUALA LUMPUR, WED: April 23, 2008 - Bernama

The High Court today extended to Friday, an ex-parte interim injunction to 108 Bukit Gasing residents to halt all action pertaining to the hill slope development which was earlier approved by the Kuala Lumpur mayor.

Justice Lau Bee Lan allowed the extension of the injunction given on April 3, to give ample time to counsels representing the mayor and developer Gasing Meridian Sdn Bhd (GMSB) to look into the affidavit in reply.

The court was told that it was only yesterday afternoon that the affidavit was served to the counsels.

On Friday, the high court will hear an inter-parte injunction on the application by the residents to stop all action approved by the mayor, in respect of a developer’s application for planning permission.

At this juncture, Joslyn Gooting appearing for GMSB, gave an assurance that his client would not continue with the erection of hoardings or begin any earth works in the area, pending hearing of the stay application.

Romesh Abraham appeared as counsel for the mayor.

On March 18, the high court here granted a leave for judicial review to the residents, allowing them the right to express their concerns for a development project in the area.

The residents were also granted leave to quash the decision of the Kuala Lumpur mayor not to hold a public hearing on the application by GMSB for a development order.

In their grounds of application, the residents represented by counsel R.

Sivarasa, said the mayor had erred in law and acted in excess of his jurisdiction when he wrote the letter stating that the procedure for hearing objections would not be implemented as it would violate existing rules and regulations.

The residents claimed the mayor had failed to take into account that they had a right under common law to be given due notice and be given a chance to voice their opinions in the decision-making process of planning.

They stated that the mayor had acted in contrary to the policy and intent of the Federal Territory (Planning) Act 1982 (Act 267).

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Taman Kepong folks want an answer - The Star

April 22, 2008 By YIP YOKE TENG

AFTER five years, the Taman Kepong Residents Association wants the developer to give them an answer as to when the long-delayed low-cost housing project will be completed.

The association represents more than 500 households, involving some 3,600 people, from Taman Kepong (Section C) who were relocated to make way for development.

They will be moved to the 550-unit low-cost housing project that is a joint venture between the landowner and its appointed developer. Construction began in early 2003 and was scheduled to be completed in 2006. However, the RM23mil project that is 80% complete has come to a standstill.

The residents have bought the units at RM42,000 each and are burdened with RM400 in instalment and RM200 on interest every month.

Waiting in vain: Residents explaining their problems to Dr Tan (seated).

“We want our houses ready soon and we want the developer to compensate us for our losses,” said association secretary Lim Kon Son at a meeting with Kepong MP Dr Tan Seng Giaw and attended by about 50 residents.

“We want the developer to resume work immediately,” he added.

Many residents lamented that their homes were flood-prone or in a deplorable state but they could not carry out renovations as they were supposed to move into new homes.

“We are in a quandary and are forced to live in terrible conditions while waiting for our new homes,” sub-contractor Lai Piang Yong, 54, said.

Dr Tan said the developer should compensate all residents on the extra interest paid as this had been stipulated in the contract.

“They have to also make sure that the units meet the residents’ requirements, including getting the strata titles,” he said.

A spokesman for the developer said they were forced to halt the work as the landowner refused to carry out the necessary measures, including building an access road and diverting a stretch of river.

“We can’t carry on with the work if they are not doing their part, as the building will not get its Certificate of Fitness,” he said.

Angry residents remove barrier at access road - The Star

April 22, 2008 by Geetha Krishnan

JOY turned to despair and anger when Bandar Mahkota Cheras residents learnt that the toll-free access road to the Cheras-Kajang Highway would not be opened yesterday as earlier anticipated.

More than 700 angry residents who had gathered at the barricade under the flyover before the Cheras 11th mile toll plaza and at the junction to Bandar Tun Hussein Onn took matters into their own hands by forcefully removing the blockage.

With the use of heavy machinery, they removed the barrier placed by highway concessionaire Grand Saga Sdn Bhd in 2006 and defied an order from the Selangor state government to wait till Wednesday.

An excited crowd lead by Bandar Mahkota Cheras Open Access Road Committee chairman Tan Boon Wah had earlier gathered at the location yesterday, expecting the Kajang Municipal Council (MPKj) to remove the barrier at 10am.

This came about because on Friday, Selangor State Local Government, Study and Research Committee chairman Ronnie Liu had said that the land belonged to the state and gave the council the power to act.

In their own hands: Residents tearing down the barricades yesterday.

At 10.20am, heavy machinery brought in by the Bandar Mahkota Cheras Open Access Road Committee with the help of developer Narajaya Sdn Bhd which built the road, began drilling holes into the concrete barriers, amidst cheers from the residents.

Elected representatives who addressed the jubilant crowd in the morning were Hulu Langat MP Che Rosli Che Mat of PAS, Serdang MP Teo Nie Ching and Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng, both of the DAP.

Work was stopped at 10.40am when MPKj president Datuk Hasan Nawawi Abdul Rahman arrived to announce the bad news that the wait would be prolonged.

“The council has received orders from the state government to appoint a surveyor to determine who has right of way over the road.

“The surveyor will collect reports from the Malaysian Highway Authority, Narajaya and Grand Saga and deliver his findings on Wednesday,” Hasan told the crowd who booed and jeered at him.

Calls were then made to the state government to ascertain if this was true.

The elected representatives then left for Menara MPKj to view the letter purportedly from Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, asking for all work to stop and for the crowd to disperse peacefully.

“We were told to wait but the federal and state governments must understand that we cannot wait any longer. Who is Grand Saga to flex its muscles so that we residents have to live with traffic jams every single day?” Tan asked.

Bandar Mahkota Cheras residents Phoon Chee Kai, 68 and Kelly Moh, 35, said they were tired of battling traffic every day just to access the highway using a longer route that measured 4.5km.

Residents were unanimous in their decision to ignore the calls to stop work and the barriers were removed by 4pm. Re-surfacing work was carried out soon afterwards.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Wee takes Saravanan to task - The Star

April 21, 2008

Deputy Federal Territories Minister Datuk M. Saravanan should provide a solution to the problems in Chinatown.

In a statement, Wangsa Maju MP Wee Choo Keong said he was shocked by the “extreme tolerance” shown towards illegal immigrants in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown.

“I note that in last Saturday’s StarMetro article, Saravanan had said that Chinatown was a tourist destination and therefore harsh action could not be taken against illegal immigrants trading there,” he said.

Wee called upon the FT Ministry to clarify its position on the illegal immigrants in Jalan Petaling.

He also took the ministry to task for failing to solve the flood problems in Kuala Lumpur as well as being unable to change the public perception of corruption in City Hall.

Association tells Wee not to interfere - The Star

April 21, 2008 by Yip Yoke Teng

Kuala Lumpur Hawkers and Petty Traders Association vice-president Datuk Ang Say Tee has advised Wangsa Maju MP Wee Choo Keong to stay out of the issue of foreign workers in Petaling Street.

Ang said Wee should not create more problems as they were already working on the issue of the area’s foreign workers with Bukit Bintang MP Fong Kui Lun and City Hall.

Petaling Street is packed with both licensed and unlicensed foreign workers. Operators hire foreign workers to man their stalls but have been urged to limit the number to conserve Chinatown's image.

Unlicensed foreigners also operate a number of stalls, believed to belong to a syndicate, affecting the business of others while messing up the place.

No choice: Traders are forced to hire foreign labour as the locals do not want to work in Petaling Street.

Ang said Chinatown had an even more serious problem now as Deputy Federal Territories Minister Datuk M. Saravanan said City Hall would be forced to take aggressive action following Wee’s remarks, even though they were having talks with the association to come out with a better solution.

“Wee was the Bukit Bintang MP more than 10 years ago but he did not care about us, because, according to him, he was someone who dealt with national issues only, not petty matters like hawkers’ problems,” Ang said.

He added that the issue of foreign workers was national one and could not be solved within a week or a month.

He said both parties should not oppose for the sake of opposing because that would only bring harm to the people and the country.

“You quarrel, we have trouble,” was also the general sentiment of operators at Chinatown when they heard that City Hall would take action against the foreign workers there.

“They are fighting between themselves but they are victimising us. They should tolerate each other for the benefit of the people,” a trader, who wanted to be known as Fen said.

She admitted that illegal foreign workers were a nuisance but urged the authorities to refrain from taking harsh action, as that would scare tourists away.

Another trader, Loke, said their businesses would be further affected if City Hall carried out harsh enforcement.

“However, we need City Hall to take action against the illegal foreign workers who open stalls every evening from 2pm till late night, blocking access to our stalls,” he said.

“At the same time, please leave the legitimate workers alone.

“We have no choice but to hire foreign workers because locals do not want to work here,” he said.

When contacted, Fong said no one should oppose for the sake of opposing because they were here to solve problems rationally.

He said City Hall could install CCTV cameras to control the situation, instead of sending enforcement officers regularly as that would tarnish the image of the tourist destination.

“We want City Hall to clamp down on the illegal traders, but allow more time for operators to adjust to employing a smaller number of licensed foreign workers.

“However, many of the past enforcement operations dealt with only the licensed ones, as the unlicensed ones are nowhere to be seen during raids as they always seemed have been tipped off before they happen,” he said.

Medan Damansara folks object to project - The Star

April 21, 2008 by Jayagandi Jayaraj

MEDAN Damansara residents are irked by Kuala Lumpur City Hall's (DBKL) lack of transparency and failure to abide by simple by-laws and the manner they were pushed around concerning a hillside development in the area.

The residents are questioning City Hall’s grounds for approving the project.

Considering the damage done to the green lung, they are requesting an immediate stop-work order because the project did not silt-traps, hoarding and a plan to prevent erosion at the site.

Bone of contention: The development taking place on the slopes of Medan Damansara.

They are also requesting for a copy of the Development Order to be made public.

The project, which began in early December, is to build 21 bungalows costing between RM10mil and RM15mil each on 10% of the land that was set aside as a green lung.

Medan Damansara Residents Association secretary Peter Raiapan said the residents were also questioning if the developer had fulfilled all the conditions by the Drainage and Irrigation Department.

He said when it rained, Lorong Setiapuspa 1 turned into a “muddy river”.

“The developer has promised to look into it and assured us that a monsoon drain along the foot of the slope to drain away water but that has also not been done yet,” he said.

He added that during a meeting at the FT Ministry office in October last year, the developer had assured residents that access to the project would be through Jalan Beringin.

Checking: Saravanan (left) and Lim (centre) studying a map of the project with resident Randhir Singh.

“Now, we are shocked to find that a few trees have been felled to build an access road via Jalan Kasah,” he said.

Raiapan said it was agreed with the developers that an independent environment consultant be appointed to make sure all conditions stipulated by City Hall were adhered to.

“However, the plan was to appoint Kumpulan IKRAM who are already involved in the project.

“That does not give them an independent position.

“We also do not have any answers on appointing an independent engineer identified by the association although we have submitted our suggestion,” he said.

The residents are also worried that the gradient, which is more than 30°, is unsafe for development.

“There were two landslides in the area in the 1970s,” a resident said during a meeting with Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng over the issue.

Also present at the event were Medan Damansara Residents Association president Datuk Seri Dr Abdul Shukor Abdullah, Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo, Wangsa Maju MP Wee Choo Keong and Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah.

There was also a surprise visit by deputy FT Minister Datuk M. Saravanan.

Emotions were running high among the residents over the development issue and their disappointment over City Hall's lack of concern towards the people's needs.

Saravanan promised the residents that he would get an answer within a week or two.

“I have heard you and now we should work as a team to solve the issue,” said Saravanan, who lives nearby.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Saravanan lashes out at some aggressive KL reps - The Star

April 20, 2008 by Yip Yoke Teng

IS this how an MP should behave?” questioned Deputy FT minister Datuk M. Saravanan in relation to the two-day round-table forum organised by the Federal Territories Ministry at Hotel Istana.

He was commenting on the attitude of some MPs at the conference, “in particularly Wangsa Maju MP Wee Choo Keong and Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng”.

He said the FT Ministry was worried by the pressure and threat from some MPs, citing that the authority was forced to take action against the foreign workers at Chinatwon in a few days following Wee's accusations of Kuala Lumpur City Hall's (DBKL) incompetence.

“City Hall has already told Wee that they were discussing with the hawkers and petty traders' association in Chinatown to find out better ways to deal with the problem, but he said that was a stupid answer and distributed a statement with the remark to everyone at the retreat on the first day,” he told a press conference.

“We have to deal with the issue sensitively because Chinatown is a tourist destination known to the world, and we want to allow the operators there to adjust themselves. We cannot just carry out harsh enforcement.

“However, with the pressure and threat from this MP, we have no choice but to take action against the foreign workers,” he said.

“Your representative asked us to take action,” he stressed.

On Lim, Saravanan said he asked for reserved parking from the hotel for MPs. “Now as an MP in the opposition you want free parking, if you are in the ruling party, would you ask to own the hotel?”

He criticised that some MPs did not make good use of the chance, and that veterans Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai and Bukit Bintang MP Fong Kui Lun could have done better.

However, he commended Bandar Tun Razak MP Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, Batu MP Tian Chua and Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar for their professionalism.

Asked if ties between the ministry and the MPs were ruined, he said: “Some, not all. I must be fair, there are MPs who can think.”

He said KL MPs should know the operating mechanism in the Federal Territories, that the authority could not take immediate actions in some cases and “just bring the weapon there and shoot”, as they needed to discuss with relevant ministries and consider many aspects.

Saravanan also said that the need for these kind of forums again would be reassessed. However, he added that the ministry still valued constructive suggestions.

“If you think you respect us, we will listen; but if you think you don't respect us, sorry, we have no time for you,” he said.

He assured that the participants would see results to the matters raised, but they have to give them time.

“We look at the urgency level. Some matters, for instance, the suggestion of a three-day feedback timeframe is being implemented but we can't curb rising crime rate in one or two days,” he said.

Meanwhile Federal Territory Barisan leaders hit out at some of the opposition MPs in Kuala Lumpur for their improper behaviour at the forum.

FT Umno information chief Datuk Suhaili Abdul Rahman said the MPs regardless from which party they belong should have used the roundtable meeting to debate proper proposals.

“Even if you want to criticise it should not be done in an aggressive manner. This is only their arrogance.

“If this is the way they are going to conduct themselves then I propose that the FT Ministry do not hold such meetings in the future as it is simply waste of time. The action by the irresponsible MPs would only make the people suffer,” said Suhaili.

FT PPP also hit out the opposition MPs saying they should not “play politics” but should instead show willingness to work and resolve the problems faced by city folks.

Its chairman A. Chandrakumanan said the behaviour of the some KL opposition MPs reflected their true character.

“Among themselves there seems to be no cohesion. For example Wangsa Maju MP Wee Choo Keong placed banners thanking the voters in his constituency with only the PKR and PAS logos while the DAP logo was missing. Where is the spirit of Pakatan Rakyat that they are talking about?” said Chandrakumanan.

Need to set up task force - The Star

April 20, 2008 by Yip Yoke Teng

PAKATAN Rakyat MPs in Kuala Lumpur have called for the setting up of task forces to attend to three main issues plaguing Kuala Lumpur folks – cleanliness, hawkers and housing.

That was one of the points raised on the second day of the roundtable conference organised by the Federal Territories Ministry.

Bandar Tun Razak MP Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim told reporters during the tea break of the closed-door conference that they hoped these three problems could be resolved in two months.

“For cleanliness, the task force should find out what is the best way to tackle the problem in the city, assess privatisation arr-angements and look into the cleanliness of drains.

“Hawking is a main problem. There are 70,000 licensed traders in Kuala Lumpur and 100,000 unlicensed ones. The task force has to find a way for them to earn a living without creating public nuisance. Housing is another long-standing matter. Some city folks are still waiting for a place to stay after 20 years,” he said.

He proposed FT Minister Datuk Seri Zulhasnan Rafique to be member of the task force for cleanliness alongside eligible MPs, as privatisation of waste collection would involve discussion with the Federal Govern-ment.

He also proposed that Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai to manage the task force for hawker issues alongside MPs as well as officials from the FT Ministry and Kuala Lumpur City Hall, and the mayor to manage the task force for housing issues with MPs and officials from the Housing and Local Government Ministry.

Batu MP Tian Chua urged City Hall to extend the Draft Kuala Lumpur Local Plan 2020's public viewing period from six weeks to six months. The plan is scheduled to be exhibited on May 15.

“The period is too short. The public need time to find consultants, speak to the residents associations and come out with alternatives as the plan has great implications on the development of Kuala Lumpur in the next 50 years,” he said.

Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar said there was room for the MPs to voice problems in their respective areas, but commented that it was rather one-sided as they did not hear the views of Barisan Nasional MPs, including Labuan MP Datuk Yusoff Mahal and Zulhasnan himself, who is Setiawangsa MP.

“It showed the FT Ministry and City Hall's preparedness in listening to our views and suggestions, but nevertheless, we want to see results.

“We want permanent solutions to the matters we raised, not short-term measures,” she added.

From lawbreaker to lawmaker - The Star

April 20, 2008 by June Wong and Chin Mui Yoon

He is one of Malaysia’s best-known activists for human rights and political reform. Yet little is known about Tian Chua, Parti Keadilan Rakyat information chief and newly elected MP for Batu. He shares his life’s story for the first time.

ON April 14, 1999, images of a young, scrawny Chinese man sitting defiantly before a Federal Reserve Unit water cannon truck sent to disperse pro-Anwar Ibrahim protestors were flashed around the world.

In Malaysia, people wondered who this strange man was. They soon got a name to the face: Tian Chua.

As an activist, Tian Chua has had many brushes with the law, as this 2005 file photo of him in a police truck after a demonstration at KLCC shows.
In the years before and since that incident, Chua – whose real name is Chua Tian Chang, meaning “to fortify” – has consistently fought for justice and human rights, including throwing himself into protests and demonstrations.

In the eyes of the authorities, he was a law-breaker and he was duly arrested countless times, bashed about and even imprisoned.

But all that changed on March 8, 2008. Chua found himself catapulted onto a national platform and respectability when he was elected Member of Parliament for the Batu constituency with a 9,455 majority.

Up close, Chua, 44, displays none of that aggression and indignant anger one would expect in a rebel with plenty of causes. He is still reed-thin and boyish-looking, mild-mannered and soft spoken. He seems more at home buried in some dusty library instead of facing off policemen on the streets.

“I don’t get heated up easily!” Chua says earnestly when we meet in Petaling Jaya over dinner. “And please don’t call me YB (Yang Berhormat). I’m extremely uncomfortable when people address me by any title. Just call me Tian.”

Now that he is a Member of Parliament for Batu, will he give up street demos?

He may be an honourable MP now but his troubles with the law have not ended. He has several cases pending, including a charge captured in local dailies; Utusan Melayu’s headline on Dec 12, 2007, screamed: Tian Chua gigit polis (Tian Chua bites policeman.)

That dramatic scuffle with the law took place on Dec 11 last year while Chua was trying to deliver a memorandum to Parliament to protest a Bill to extend the Election Commission members retirement age from 65 to 66.

Just how did a middle class Malaysian Chinese boy grow up to be such a non-conformist?

Early years

The eldest of four siblings, Chua was born on Dec 21, 1963. The family home was a single-story house in a working class neighbourhood in Malacca.

His father, Chua Neo Lai, 71, is of Hakka descent and was a rice wholesaler. His late mother, Chan Yuet Chien, was a Chinese schoolteacher.

His brother Tian Chien, 43, is married and owns an IT firm. His sisters, Thien See, 38, is an independent film maker while Thien Ting, 35, is currently studying and working in New York.

From young, the family was caught up in the ideals of democracy and socialism; Chua describes his parents, especially his mother, as “socialist-conscious”.

His father remembers Chua as a calm and steady bookworm who didn’t excel in sports.

“But he is very stubborn; when we asked him not to confront the Government, he replied that he was fighting for our rights. Still, he would walk away rather than argue with us.”

Chua studied at Siang Lin Primary School and Malacca Catholic High School. After Form Six at Gajah Berang High School, he went to study Agricultural Science in Sydney University, Australia.

“I wanted to be a scientist and invent things, like Edison. I got interested in the agro-sciences as I wanted to study things that could be useful,” recalls Chua.

But in his third year, he switched to Philosophy at the University of New South Wales. Australia in the 1980s was a hotbed for student activists. “My father had hoped I’d study law for good future prospects. But I became exposed to peace movements, environmental issues, and human rights situations around the world.”

He became an active student leader and his mates included Steven Gan and Premesh Chandran, co-founders of news website Malaysiakini.

Together, they protested against the imposition of university fees on foreign students started by Bob Hawke’s administration in 1985.

Chua had his first taste of arrest when he was locked up after a demonstration in Sydney. He was also recruited by East Timor then leader-in-exile, now president Ramos Harta to help prepare newsletters.

Upon returning to Malaysia in 1990, Chua joined the NGO Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) to campaign against the Internal Security Act (ISA).

Two years later he left for the Hong Kong based Asia Monitor Resource Center (AMRC) as a researcher on regional labour issues.

He then received a scholarship to do his Masters Degree in Employment and Labour Studies at the Institute of Social Studies at the Hague, the Netherlands.

After his studies, he took the long way home via an overland route. “I took trains, buses, whatever. It took me three months. It was the most enjoyable and freest time of my youth,” he recalls fondly.

The rebel

Upon his return to Malaysia in 1996, he was immediately caught up with the East Timor movement. Then the 1997 Asian financial crisis started.

“In Malaysia, we grow up and live in a culture of fear in the shadow of May 13. That fear has been built into our political system and has remained a part of our psychology.

“At the same time, our model of development had made us uncompetitive by the late 1980s. Yet, while Asian countries were suffering from the global financial breakdown, Dr Mahathir and Anwar Ibrahim told Time magazine that everything was fine. It was ridiculous!

“Then cracks started showing in their relationship but we never expected Dr M to take such drastic measures,” says Chua who was then writing research papers on labour conditions for trade unions and was in the Suaram secretariat.

Anwar’s subsequent sacking from Umno and ISA detention were just what the alternative parties needed as a unifying factor to confront the Government in the 1999 general election.

“NGO activists brought DAP and PAS together and the Reformasi movement was born. It was bigger than we ever expected.

“You’ve never seen so many Malays wanting change. It was a mass movement. People wanted change for economic and ethical reasons.”

In 1999, Tian decided to join the newly formed Parti Keadilan Nasional headed by Anwar’s wife, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, and was elected national vice president.

“It was not so much because of Anwar but the principle of opposing the use of ISA that I became actively involved in the Reformasi movement,” Chua explains.

“The Government needed to be changed and we had to start somewhere. If Anwar was ready to do that, then I was prepared to join him. I met him just once in his house before his arrest. I had no chance to see or talk to him after that. I joined Keadilan as the token Chinese member!”

Chua is frank that “while he (Anwar) was in government we didn’t think much of him” but believes he is a changed man.

“People go through different stages of life. I knew him when he was totally down. It’s the people who have made Anwar who he is now.”

(Interestingly, Anwar was the first person Chua called after he won his Batu seat.)

In 2004, Keadilan merged with Parti Rakyat Malaysia to form Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and Chua was appointed its information chief, a post he has held since.

By then, he was quite famous – that photo of him defying a water cannon truck had stuck in many people's minds.

He is surprised when asked if it was a tactic to attract attention. To him, what he did was nothing new; he was doing what other activists for change before him had done.

“I merely followed the peaceful protest and non-confrontational approach as practised by Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi.

“We need to confront the powers-that-be but avoid violence yet at the same time. “The objective is to appeal to the human goodness in even a very agitated opponent.

“(By sitting down) it enables the aggressors to see that we’re not running around and there is no need to fear us. I was confident the truck driver would not run me over. He is after all a human being too.”

But his confrontational style can be, as MCA Youth vice-chairman Chew Kok Woh says, disturbing.

“Tian Chua is a radical. Most Malaysians find his style disturbing. He lost previously but because of the euphoria this time, he has been elected,” observes Chew.

Chua's tactics have also not gone down well with others as well: He's been described as a “real nutter” and a “drama queen”. One blogger felt that Chua's Dec 11 arrest was a publicity stunt (,

This blogger wrote that he was initially shocked at the level of “physical action” required to arrest him. “However, only after viewing the full unedited video, I (have) come to the conclusion that Tian Chua himself wanted the arrest and the subsequent publicity.”


On April 10, 2001, Chua was arrested under the ISA and sent to the Kamunting Detention Camp for two years with five other activists – Ezam Mohd Noor, Hishamuddin Rais, Saari Sungip, Dr Badrul Amin and Lokman Adam.

At Kamunting, Chua kept himself busy by dabbling in his love for drawing and painting.

He drew the insects that entered his cell and made over 100 Hari Raya and Chinese New Year cards for friends and family. He had much time to read (including heavy tomes like Homer's Iliad, says Ezam who remains on very friendly terms with Chua after his departure from PKR), and learnt Thai, Norwegian, Arabic, French and Sanskrit, which he has mostly forgotten now.

“Honestly, we hadn’t anything to worry about. It was a good rest. Once we accepted the basics, it was okay. It was just the denial of total freedom that was hard to accept. We had to ask for permission for every single thing,” says Chua.

“When we started adapting to the conditions, the authorities asserted the fact that we were completely powerless. One day we decided to plant vegetables. As the plants were growing, they destroyed the plot.

“Kamunting was a test of my patience but I totally believed that one day I would be freed. It was this belief that kept me going. My father took my detention with some humour. When he visited me he said, 'At least now I know where to find you!'

To Chua Senior, his son's imprisonment came as no surprise:

“I always knew the day would come when he would be detained. When it happened, I actually felt it was safer for him to be in detention than leading demonstrations everywhere!”

Lonely warrior

Chua was released on June 4, 2003. Once out, Chua was back in form again. In February 2004 he was detained for being in a rally calling for police reforms and an inquiry into the deaths of detainees.

In March of that year, he stood for the Batu constituency in the general election but lost to Gerakan’s Ng Lip Yong by 11,000 votes.

Four years on, it's a different story. Since his election as MP, Chua has been besieged by calls for help from the people. An irate lady phoned to ask for her neighbour’s cat to be relocated as she couldn't stand the stench anymore.

People whose problems have not been dealt with for 20 years suddenly demand for them to be solved in two weeks.

But perhaps Chua welcomes it. One of the biggest casualties of his incarceration was his relationship with his long-time girlfriend and fellow activist, Mabel Au Mei Po. After his arrest, she was blacklisted and deported back to Hong Kong. They have remained apart since.

(In article posted on Aliran's website, Au writes how she asked Chua if there was anything special she could do for him in the event of him being a political detainee:

“Tian thought for a while and said, 'Nothing. I believe you can take care of yourself. I shall be happy as long as you enjoy a happy life'.”)

His home – a house in Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya, that his mother left him after her death from cancer in 2000 – is a true bachelor's pad.

It is sparsely furnished and there are watermarks on the walls from years of unchecked leakage during his detention.

Chua's dining table is buried under a mountain of paper and unopened letters and baskets of dried jasmine garlands presented by his constituents. A lonely looking catfish curled inside an aquarium in a corner of the living room is his only companion in the silent house.

Built-in bookshelves dominate the space upstairs. There are reams of fading, yellowed Chinese books and English titles ranging from Crime of War, What the Public Should Know, to 700 Years of Dutch Cartography and a beautiful leather-bound copy of the Quran.

His dressing table is heaped with hairbrushes, peanut crackers and a large tube of muscle relaxant cream for his frequent back pain due to a fracture he suffered during his detention.

Chua shows us several sketchbooks filled with penciled drawings of bugs, beetles, praying mantis and other winged creatures that visited his cell in Kamunting.

The finely detailed drawings include notations on the creatures’ anatomy and observations of a person who, frankly, had nothing else to do with his time then.

On June 24, 2001, he records, “8am, this Pelesek Grasshopper was spotted resting on a window frame.

“The next day, the creature had a “strange, sudden collapse at 9pm last night after struggling weakly. It stayed motionless when fed with a cricket.”

Others were quick sketches made during his travels, like Angkor Wat and Bayom temples of Siem Reap, and traditional dancers performing in Ubud temples in Bali.

“I really don’t have time for anything anymore,” Chua replies with a laugh when asked about his hobbies. He writes in a diary jam-packed with appointments and notes the old fashioned way with a blue ballpoint pen.

“All my assistants and secretaries left me after they too won in the general election! I’ve lost two PDAs so I have to resort to using a diary,” he explains.

MP Chua

In a constituency with the most number of Project Perumahan Rakyat (PPR) flats sprawled across problematic old areas like Selayang and Jinjang, will Chua be buried under a growing mound of petty problems?

“It’s unfortunate that in the Federal Territories, an MP also has to handle local affairs,” Tian says. “There is little avenue to seek redress so I don’t blame Malaysians for turning to their representatives for help. I will have to balance between serving the people, speaking up in Parliament, and continuing to uphold justice.”

March 8 was only the beginning of change in Malaysia, Chua believes.

“We all need time to put aside our prejudices,” he says. “In PKR, we do not hide issues but we confront them.

“I wouldn’t say that PKR is the finest party but it is the best platform for us. It is all too easy for us to imitate BN, like letting PAS take the Malay heartland and similarly for the Chinese to control the Chinese areas.

“We need dialogue and debate. In the end, we still need to seek out solutions that may not please everyone but are the most acceptable.”

Although he has been imprisoned, injured and lost his girlfriend, there are no regrets, Chua says. His motto sums up his life’s philosophy, which he puts in his website: La vie existe grace aux choix, or Life exists because of choice.

“Life is what you choose to put into it – mine is a natural unfolding of the choices I’ve made. I believe I am part of a bigger society and movement. We all are and we either choose to stay away or stay in it.

“I consider myself lucky to be doing what I am doing. I have been given an overseas education with free access to information, my father gave me his car and my mother left me a house. Given such privileges, I’d be guilty if I don't do what I should be doing.”

Chua has said he won't change his ways but now that he can bring his issues to the Dewan Rakyat, will demonstrations be a thing of the past?

Certainly, MCA's Chew hopes Chua understands that he cannot continue to be rabble-rouser. “The MCA Youth hope that he won't bring his antics to the Dewan Rakyat,” he says.

Penang MCA Youth chief Ooi Chuan Aik expressed similar sentiments, saying Chua must realise that “his days of street politics” was over.

“He has spent a lot of time in the streets as a student leader and Reformasi activist. I hope he has grown up since the elections.”

But Chua's good friend, Premesh Chandran, isn't betting on it:

“I am sure we will see Tian drive his agenda in Parliament, but I am also sure his days of taking the fight to the streets are not over.”

Tian in their eyes
TIAN Chua, as his father and friends know him.

Chua Neo Lai, father, 71

My son has always been calm and steady. He never argued, fought or raised his voice. Often he gave way to his younger siblings.

He was a bookworm and didn’t excel in sports! He was a prefect in secondary school and he showed quiet leadership.

When we cautioned him to stop confronting the Government, he'd say, “These are our rights; I didn’t do anything wrong, they are wrong to arrest me without cause or warrant.”

He is so stubborn in his ways. I honestly do not know how I came to have a son like him who so adamantly fights for what he believes in! But my son has never stolen, harmed, robbed or killed anyone; he lives an honest life.

When he was detained under the ISA, I already knew the day would come and had prepared for the worst. At some point, I felt maybe it was safer for him to be in detention instead of leading demonstrations everywhere!

Now that he is an MP, I hope he will abide by the law. And yes, it’s about time he has a family of his own.

Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail,
PKR president and
Opposition Leader

Tian has always been a very sincere and earnest man. He has a strong passion for human rights in an unselfish way.

When Anwar was jailed, I could not ask for a more loyal friend. When he was detained himself, he patiently waited it out and during that time worked on his artistic skills, which I never knew he had. He is a man who has always been gentle but he dares to stand up for what he believes in.

Cynthia Gabriel,
regional director of an NGO

I met Tian when he joined Suaram after returning from overseas. He seemed a very ordinary guy! But as I got to know him, I realised he is just determined to see change and to work for it.

As a friend, he is warm and soft-spoken. It’s nice chatting with him as he always has many theories and ideas. But it’s not easy getting to know his private life. He is always very composed and takes stress well. Even repeated arrests do not bend his steely resolve.

If he has a weakness I’d say Tian has the tendency to take on everything; he can’t say no!

The situation was bleak after he was discharged in 2003. The war on terror had started and the democratic space was shrinking.

Many felt that the Reformasi movement had died down. But Tian was determined to make it work. He went all out to rebuild cooperation between colleagues, NGOs and political parties.

It was his courage, consistency and determination to see change that inspire us. Not once did he ever lose his belief and vision in a multiracial party. I think the detention had only strengthened his resolve!

Mabel Au, former girlfriend,
wrote in Aliran:

I remember Tian asking me what I would do if he became a political detainee one day. My answer was: “I will continue with my work and my life as usual.

Then you do not have to worry about me. You can do whatever you have to do for the Reformasi movement. Do you have anything special you expect me to do for you?

Tian thought for a while and said, “Nothing. I believe you can take care of yourself. I shall be happy as long as you enjoy a happy life.”

My heart sinks whenever I recall what he said. All I wish is that he can keep up his spirits and stay in good physical and psychological health, in order to continue the struggle.

(Au is former vice-chairperson of the Industrial Relations Institute in Hong Kong and programme coordinator for the Bangkok-based Committee for Asian Women. Her full account of her detention and deportation experience in 2001 can be read at

‘Silent’ MPs give excuses - The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Some said they forgot, others said they were too busy while at least one blamed it on a communication breakdown.

Whatever the reason, bloggers slammed the MPs who did not fulfil their elected responsibility to question the Government on all sorts of issues.

According to some blogs, the number of MPs who did not submit a single query totalled 29, with 15 of them said to be from the Barisan Nasional.

The DAP has admitted that five of its MPs failed to submit questions, while six PKR MPs have come out to state why they did not submit any question.

The new Parliament session begins on April 28 with the MPs swearing in, and the “no question” issue is so hot in cyberspace that DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang had to apologise for what he termed “this regrettable episode” in his blog, saying “the excuses are not acceptable”.

“I have checked with the five DAP MPs and they have confirmed the mistake of missing the April 8 deadline for the submission of questions for the month-long inaugural meeting of the 12th Parliament starting on April 28 – although they would still be able to take part in the supplementary question stage of the daily 90-minute Question Time.

“The party had reminded DAP MPs not to miss the deadline for questions and lose the opportunity to pose questions in the first meeting of Parliament (an important aspect of the work of Opposition parliamentarians) but mistakes are still being made,” he wrote.

The five DAP MPs are Charles Anthony Santiago (Klang), Er Teck Hwa (Bakri), Dr Hiew King Cheu (Kota Kinabalu), John Fernandez (Seremban) and Dr P. Ramasamy (Batu Kawan), who is Penang Deputy Chief Minister II.

The PKR MPs were Tian Chua (Batu), Abdullah Sani Abdul Hamid (Kuala Langat), Datuk Kamarul Baharin Abbas (Teluk Kemang), N. Gopalakrishnan (Padang Serai), Ahmad Kasim (Kuala Kedah) and Rashid Din (Merbok).

Abdullah said he had been very busy and forgot about submitting questions to Parliament.

“Furthermore, I do not recall that a deadline was given to us during the (MPs) briefing (on April 3).

“Perhaps, the Parliament secretariat officers had mentioned the date when I had left the room briefly,” he added.

Gopalakrishnan said he would reveal in the Dewan Rakyat why he refrained from submitting written questions.

“You will know the answer on April 29,” he said when contacted.

Ahmad said he had already prepared 10 questions.

“But I wanted to put it as oral questions as I need time to carry out more research to ensure the questions are still relevant as some of the issues may have been resolved at ministerial level,” he said.

Rashid clarified that not submitting written questions did not mean he had no questions to ask.

“We are prepared to ask oral questions and raise supplementary questions,” he added.

Dr Hiew said he simply had no time.

“The briefing for MPs was on April 3 and I returned to Kota Kinabalu on April 5. I've explained this to the DAP leadership.”

Fernandez said he could not submit his questions earlier as he was busy setting up his service centres.

“I was reminded by my political secretaries that the deadline was nearing but I just couldn’t find the time to submit the questions,” he said.

Kamarul Baharin said his assistant had wrongly calculated the days left before the deadline to submit the questions.

“We were careless. We were given 14 working days or almost three weeks to do so but still missed the deadline.

“However, I will surely ask many supplementary questions,” he pledged.

The Barisan’s newly-elected MP for Sibuti in Sarawak, Ahmad Lai Bujang, said he sent three questions to Parliament by fax on April 18 but was surprised when told that his questions were not received.

The Barisan MP for Kimanis Datuk Hanifah Aman also stated that he could not submit questions on time.

MPs must submit questions 21 days before Parliament meets - The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: April 20, 2008 by Lee Yuk Peng

Each MP should submit 10 oral questions and five written questions for Dewan Rakyat’s Question Time 21 days before the house begins each meeting.

Ipoh Timor MP Lim Kit Siang said for the coming meeting, the deadline for MPs to submit questions was 5pm on April 8.

The inaugural meeting for the new incoming Parliament begins on April 28 and ends on May 27.

The next meeting when the MPs will get another chance at asking questions begins on June 23.

The questions, whereby MPs can ask the Government to explain their policies, decisions and actions, can either be faxed or e-mailed to the secretary of the Dewan Rakyat.

A list of questions, normally about 20 to 30 oral questions will be printed on the Order Paper for each sitting.

In the past, Question Time would occupy the first hour and a half of each sitting although there have been suggestions that more time should be allotted for it.

On a normal day, about eight questions will be answered. Oral questions that are not answered will be replied to in writing the following day.

MPs would get to ask the questions listed on the Order Paper, known as the “original question” and two to three supplementary questions are allowed.

The right to ask the first supplementary question will go to the MP who asked the original question.

The MP who asks the question must be present in the house before his question is answered.

If not, his question will be skipped.

The questions would be answered by the relevant minister, deputy minister or parliamentary secretary – known as the “Frontbenchers” – although there will not be any parliamentary secretaries for this term as none has been appointed.

MPs would often race against each other and stand up to try to catch the Speaker’s attention once the answer is given so that he will be allowed to ask a supplementary question.

Question Time is often lively as MPs trade barbs with the frontbencher when they are not satisfied with the answer.

Often, when it is an Opposition MP asking the question, Barisan Nasional MPs will come to the “aid” of the frontbenchers by shouting at him and this will provoke other Opposition MPs to respond.

The procedure for Question Time in the Dewan Negara is similar except that the questions must be submitted to the secretary 14 days earlier.

Vocal MPs rapped for not sending queries to Parliament - The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: April 20, 2008

Fourteen Opposition MPs, some of whom had been very vocal when campaigning before the general election, have been heavily criticised on websites for squandering their chance to question the Government on various issues at the first Parliament session to be held on April 28.

Bloggers had reported that 29 MPs, including three ex-Ministers and one former Deputy Minister, had not submitted any question to Parliament.

They had singled out two Opposition MPs, who had been very anti-establishment when they were merely members of political parties or non-governmental organisations, for stinging attacks, accusing them of not doing their job as MPs and betraying those who voted them into power.

The MPs, 15 of whom are from Barisan Nasional, five from DAP and nine from PKR, have been called “irresponsible”, “MPs of the most slothful kind” and “unreliable”.

Since they missed sending questions for the first meeting, they will have to wait till the next meeting in June.