Friday, August 8, 2008

Poser over demolition of staircase - Star

Aug 8, 2008 By OH ING YEEN

BUKIT Sri Bintang residents are unhappy with the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) for destroying the staircase along Jalan 3/36 without notice.

According to a resident, City Hall officers came at about 10.30am with two bulldozers, six lorries and two vans to demolish the staircase.

Eyesore: Residents pointing to the destroyed staircase as Lim (fourth from right) looks on.

Taman Bukit Sri Bintang Rukun Tetangga (RT) chairman Angus Ng said he suspected that this was an act by City Hall to warn that there should be no tables and chairs placed along five-foot ways.

“However, many municipal councils allow business owners to place chairs and tables outside as long as the local community do not object to it.

“And these people pay the council a fee.

“There should be laws and guidelines for restaurants or coffeeshops to continue placing chairs outside as long as public safety is not compromised,’’ he said.

He added that he was also concerned for the safety of the residents as now the drains were left uncovered.

Ng said residents understood that the officers were doing their job but that they were irked that they were not given ample warning about the demolition.

He said City Hall should discuss with community leaders before taking such drastic action.

Yong Man Kim, the owner of Restaurant Double Seven, said the staircase in front of his restaurant was originally built with steel but it was not sturdy. Many residents use it to cross the drain, which is 1.3m deep.

“However, the stairs have no connection between restaurants placing tables and chairs on the road side.

“I do not understand why they demolished the staircase.

He said since the demolition, he had not opened for business. He said 25 other shop owners were also affected.

Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng said the rubble left behind after the demolition was an eyesore, adding that he would ask City Hall to clear the mess.

“The steel drain covers and recyclable materials were taken away.

“City Hall should be placing drain covers instead of taking them away,” he said.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

BB folks object to open space plan - The Star

Jul 24, 2008

LANDOWNERS and residents living along Jalan Beremi (Lot 751) in Bukit Bintang are objecting to proposals in the Draft Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020, which has marked the area as Public Open space.

Normally residents would be jumping for joy when space is left for greening in any neighbourhood but the residents are not too pleased as the land belongs to them and they were not informed about the plan by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).

“Our lots are located on freehold land and are designated mixed residential and commercial and hence we are against City Hall's plans to turn the place into a public open space,'' said resident K.K. Kwan.

Kwan said the existing park in front of his home is adequate and falls within the definition of local play area whereby open spaces located in residential areas or in urban commercial centres within walking distance of users is secured from developments through development control mechanisms.

Common stand: Fong (second from right) with residents from Jalan Beremi in Bukit Bintang who filed their objections to the draft KL City Plan 2020.

“The park is more than adequate for the use of residents within a 500m radius. It is not overflowing with residents and visitors that it needs to be urgently enlarged,'' he said.

Residents said that apart from them, drug addicts also frequent the park at night and they believe that by enlarging the park it will only create a much bigger social problem in the neighbourhood.

Resident Katherine Lim said that by acquiring their lots to enlarge an existing park would not contribute to the green lung effect for the community nor for the city landscape.

“There are other vacant plots of land in the neighbourhood. If there is a genuine need for a larger open area or green lung, City Hall should make use of this area instead and not pick on us,'' she told Star Metro after filing her objections at the lobby of City Hall headquarters yesterday.

Bukit Bintang MP Fong Kui Lun accompanied Lim and several other residents.

Fong said the lots in Jalan Beremi were freehold and it was unfair to reclassify the area as open space.

“It is too close to the commercial centre for it to be turned into an open space,'' he said.

“Besides, there was never a pre-consultative process with the residents as per the Town and Country Planning Act 1976 '' Fong said.

City residents have until Aug 31 to file their objections.

Monday, July 21, 2008

10-year wait for pedestrian bridge over - The Star

Jul 21, 2008 Story and photos by PRIYA MENON

ABOUT 20,000 residents will benefit from the new pedestrian bridge in Wangsa Maju.

Section 2 Wangsa Maju residents are delighted that the new bridge connecting Block C, D and E to Block B is now ready for use.

“A walk to the shops or Wangsa Maju LRT station now takes just five minutes compared with 15 minutes previously,” said Marilyn Gerard, 23.

Work on the RM170,000 bridge began in February and was completed a week ago.

Long-awaited facility: The new pedestrian bridge will be useful to more than 20,000 residents in the Section 2 area of Wangsa Maju.

“We have been waiting for more than 10 years for the bridge to be built,” said Chan Sai Moi, 56.

A condominium built 10 years ago blocks the path residents used in the past to get across to the shoplots. The alternative route was to go around the blocks of flats to reach their destination.

“We are glad the bridge is ready but we hope that the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) can put up streetlights because it is dark at night,” Chan added.

Wangsa Maju MCA division chairman Datuk Yew Teong Look said he would request for the streetlights to be put up as soon as possible.

Potential mosquito breeding ground: Yew looking at the brokenstone slabs in a drain located in Section 2 Wangsa Maju.

When Yew first asked the DBKL to build a bridge they had accidentally built it in Section 1, Wangsa Maju, but the bridge had also proved useful to the residents in that area.

“Although it was a mistake it was a good one because we were going to build one there anyway,” Yew added.

Yew said he had also asked DBKL to fix a broken drain in the area so that it would not pose problems for residents in the near future.

“The broken stone slabs will become an ideal place for aedes mosquitoes to breed, so we want to stop that from happening,” said Lim Cheng Hock, chairman of the Joint Management Committee of Section 2.

Lim said they would request DBKL to pay for the compound’s electricity bill that costs the residents RM700 a month.

“The committee has been paying for the compound lights for 20 years now when it is supposed to be paid by DBKL,” he said.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mega development plan proposed for Pudu Prison land - The Star

Jun 17, 2008 Stories by JAYAGANDI JAYARAJ

THE land on which the 113- year-old Pudu Prison is located has been identified as one of the major sites for mega development in the Draft KL City Plan 2020.

The colonial era prison was taken over by the Urban Development Authority (UDA) in November 1996 after it was officially closed.

First sight: The arch leading to the inner sanctum of the prison's X-shaped main block.

The land on which the prison structure stands has been earmarked for mixed development in the draft plan.

That means 70% of the land will be used for a commercial hub and 30% for residential development.

There are five plots involved in the proposed plan submitted by the UDA to the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) in July 2005.

Plots 1, 2 and 5 are proposed for commercial buildings, including a 33-storey office tower, a shopping complex, a 43-storey hotel tower and a 44-storey serviced apartment tower.

Familiar site: A look at the famous Pudu Prison mural and some of the buildings within the compound.

The old prison mosque will be maintained while plots 3 and 4 will feature two blocks of 44-storey condominiums on each plot. There is also a 1.2ha park proposed in the plan.

The proposal also involves the widening of Jalan Pudu and making a new traffic way at Jalan Changkat Thamby Abdullah to create a dedicated entrance to the development site.

The Hang Tuah monorail station will also be integrated with the proposed development site to create easy accessibility for the public.

According to DBKL town planning director Mahadi Che Ngah, the proposed plan has been discussed by the town planning committee and examined by former mayor Datuk Ruslin Hasan when UDA submitted it in 2005.

Infamous resident: A file picture of Botak Chin who served time and was executed at Pudu Prison.

However, due to the proposal’s high density, the UDA was told to scale down the development.

“At present, the traffic condition along Jalan Hang Tuah is already bad. The developers have to find a good solution to tackle the traffic problems,” Mahadi said.

Hard work: Khong Yen Chong showing the award he received for painting the mural when he was an inmate at the prison in the 1980s.

“They can perhaps employ consultants to do traffic impact studies and make proposals on improving flow,” he said.

Mahadi said a major development with such a magnitude in Kuala Lumpur would enhance the confidence of local and foreign investors to invest in the city.

“In a way, if we do not propose this site for redevelopment, we are not encouraging other dilapidated properties in the city to be redeveloped by its owner. That kind of approach is not good for the city,” he said.

Mahadi: UDA submitted a proposal to develop the area in 2005 but was told to scale it down.

“If Kuala Lumpur is not booming who will want to come to the city?” Mahadi told StarMetro during an interview last week.

Mahadi said although the Pudu Prison was a well-known historical landmark in the city centre, its large area of 8.8ha should logically be capitalised in the city’s land development usage.

He said city development planning was always about striking a balance and there would always be a conflict in ideals and perception among various interest groups.

“But, as a city maker, we have to decide what is best for Kuala Lumpur by looking at benefits it has to offer,” Mahadi said.

“If there was a strong need to maintain part of the structure of the old prison building, then we would preserve it but probably not the entire site,” he said.

Mahadi said the UDA application status had lapsed since it was rejected for revision by City Hall.

“UDA was supposed to have come back to us within 30 days but it has been three years and there is no feedback from it on the plans. Based on our standard practice, the proposal is considered lapsed,” Mahadi said.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Lorries turn area into cowboy town - The Star

Jun 15, 2008 By CHRISTINA LOW

HOW would you like to live in an area where more than 50 lorries laden with sand are driven to and fro in front of your house daily?

This is what residents of Taman Sri Segambut and a neighbouring residential area known as Bamboo Garden have to bear with daily.

Speaking out: Lim (right) listening intently as Saw explains his side of the story.

The lorries are used to carry sand from an area at the end of the road.

“They move in and out carrying sand daily and we had to shut our windows and doors because it is just too dusty,” Wong Kong Ban, 57, said.

On top of the noise and dust pollution, the safety of the residents, especially children and old folks, is also threatened.

Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng visited the site recently to see how bad the situation was after receiving numerous phone calls and complaint letters from the residents.

Lim said Batu MP Tian Chua had also informed him of the problem as the area borders both the constituencies.

Chua, who had also been approached by residents to help them resolve the matter, had sent a letter to the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) last month.

Off they go: Lorries transporting sand out of the area.
He had asked the DBKL whether the sand removal activities had the approval from the authorities, but there was no reply from City Hall.

During a recent StarMetro visit to the site, the workers there shouted at the journalists.

“We have no choice but to use the residential road as there is no access road out to Jalan Kuching from here,” a worker said.

The residents claimed that the lorries had also driven through the playground as an alternative route out of the site.

They had not only damaged a section of the park but also the concrete slabs on drains.

However, an officer in charge of the site, who only wanted to be known as Saw, denied that they had used the playground.

“We don’t use the playground at all, only the road leading to Bamboo Garden,” Saw said.

He also said the workers were not there to steal sand but to take the sand in to be cleaned before transporting it out to construction sites.

“We have been renting the lot for three months now, and there are three more months before our contract ends,” Saw said.

Asked whether the site had been approved by the DBKL for such works, Saw evaded the question but went on to say that the workers had always cleaned the roads after finishing their work each day.

DBKL’s Segambut branch manager Norhaslinda Nordin also inspected the site, the first time she has visited the place, and took note of several matters.

Norhaslinda claimed that the DBKL did not receive Chua’s letter and was not aware of the problem.

“We will check thoroughly before taking further action,” Norhaslinda said.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Solar-powered parking meters

Solar-powered parking meters

Jun12, 2008 By FAZLEENA AZIZ

THE Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) will replace the present parking meters with the new electronic parking system SLKE in the city by next week.

The new Pay and Display scheme will see electronic machines placed at strategic locations to allow motorists to pay parking fees using cash or on credit via the Mykad.

Cash or credit: The new Electronic Parking System (SLKE) machine that will be installed at strategic locations in the city.

According to KL mayor Datuk Ab Hakim Borhan, the solar-powered system is user friendly.

The operation period is from 7.30am to 10pm and the hourly parking rate is maintained at 80 sen in the city centre and 50 sen outside the city centre.

The first phase for the new system covers Bukit Bintang, Masjid India, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kampung Baru, Chow Kit, Pudu, Kompleks Damai and Loke Yew, which will be operational from next Monday.

The second phase and following phases will be implemented progressively according to areas by August.

“There is no cost on the part of the DBKL part but we have an installer and operators for the parking system,” Hakim said during a meet-the-press session yesterday.

Hakim also said that the system would be helpful in areas where they were illegal operators and jockeys.

The machines will be stationed at every 20 parking spaces and 50 enforcement officers will be on duty at four main zones, where the parking meters are installed.

The DBKL will pay RM1.50 a day to the system installer company for each parking space. An operator will be hired to handle collection and maintenance at every parking zones.

Asked about his recent “study trip” to Europe and Canada organised by the Federal Territories Ministry, the DBKL and Putrajaya Corporation, Hakim said the ministry would submit a report to the cabinet.

On the current government belt-tightening measures, Hakim said the DBKL would adhere to the cost-cutting and cost-saving agenda.

“We will save electricity by minimising the use of lights and air conditioners.

“The use of stationeries, events and the use of office vehicles will be minimised,” Hakim said.

“We will evaluate the need for having courses, overseas and local trips as well as other programmes,” he said.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Towards developing world-class status for KL - The Star

Jun 11, 2008 Stories by BAVANI M (

SOME quarters think that by increasing the Kuala Lumpur population of 1.6 million to 2.2 million by 2020 will result in density increases beyond sustainable limits.

And this would inadvertently results in poorer quality of life, traffic and crowd congestion, air and noise pollution and even unemployment.

But there are others who believe that if a city population declines it would lead to decay or even ruin, and eventually turned the once vibrant city into a ghost town.

Renewal: Changes are in the offing in KL.

The Draft Kuala Lumpur City Plan 2020 envisions Kuala Lumpur as a world-class city with its residents living quality lifestyles despite a projected population increase of 600,000 by 2020.

The plan states that for Kuala Lumpur to progress and prosper, sustainable development is the only way to achieve it.

According to town planner Norliza Hashim, this is only possible if the people are willing to change their lifestyle patterns and make compromises.

She pointed out that the current land use pattern was the direct result of past practices and development trends, which were based on single land use zoning.

“Things have changed, trends have changed, market forces with environmental concerns requires new and integrated approach to land use planning,’’ she said.

Norliza said to become a world-class city, there must be a more flexible approach at land use zoning.

According to Norliza, some of the coordinated efforts in ensuring and supporting the city’s growth to cater for needs of its population include allocating land for future requirements, facilitating use of land and buildings, regulating incompatible land use and activities, integrating transport and spatial development, encouraging mixed-use development and transforming, and regenerating Brownfield sites and urban villages.

“Apart from the need to protect the environment and public open spaces, improving the traffic situation and upgrading public amenities, it is also time for people to embrace mixed use development,’’ Norliza said.

She pointed out that mixed-use development encouraged a balance of housing, employment, commercial and other community facilities in the same area.

“Working and living in the same area reduce travel time. Mixed development helps achieve intensive development by using the same space for more than one purpose,” Norliza said.

A valid point and one endorsed by Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (Rehda) KL branch secretary Tan Ching Meng.

Tan said for KL to compete with other world-class cities it must move with the times.

“KL cannot be frozen by history and traditions. To advance, it needs to transform with the times and undergo a rejuvenation pro-cess,’’ he said.

A good example cited by both Norliza and Tan are Singapore’s Tao Payoh township and Bugis Street, which have successfully undergone regeneration process incorporating mixed-use development.

“There are commercial, retail, residential and transit stations nearby and, despite the lack in open spaces, the residents are enjoying a quality lifestyle,’’ Norliza said.

She said this could also happen in KL with proper planning and integrated development within the inner city.

According to Norliza, in most of the world-class cities, such Vancouver in Canada, the city is well integrated with high-rise buildings and yet could also boast the most number of parks.

Norliza said this could be done in Malaysia if the people recognised and accepted the fact that the way of modern life was high-rise and no longer horizontal.

Tan, meanwhile, said KL should not be stilted in comparison to its conurbations, the aggregations of urban areas.

“The capital city should be the liveliest in the country, with individual interest balanced with the overall needs of the KL residents,’’ he said.