Press Statement by Lim Guan Eng in Penang on
Monday, 15th December 2008:
Protect workers rights by cancelling the RM 5 billion injection of EPF
funds into Valuecap following the Federal Government’s failure to
convince EPF members that it will not be used to bail out
Slopes are found in many states amidst urban
developments especially Penang. It is essential that they are properly
maintained and landscaped to enhance the city outlook.
The Hong Kong government learnt their lessons from repeated fatal
landslide disasters which took more than 470 lives 30 years back. They
set up Geotechnical Engineering Office (formerly called Geotechnical
Control Office) of the Civil Engineering and Development Department ,
they also set up a comprehensive Slope Safety System to reduce landslide
risk to as low as practically achievable.
Today, they have successfully reduced the landslide risk; this is
reflected in the substantial drop in the landslide fatality rate.
How many more Highland Tower and Bukit Antarabangsa tragedies do we need
to experience before the government takes measures and precautions such
as those practiced in Hong Kong?
The Landslide Risk Reduction Strategies
Following its establishment, the
Geotechnical Control Office (GCO) developed an overall landslide risk
reduction strategy. It is made up of three main goals, with associated
mechanisms for achieving them:
Minimize Risk Arising from New Developments
The GEO checks all new slopes formed to ensure that they are designed to
current safety standards, and geotechnical considerations are now
incorporated at the earliest stages of land use planning. In this way,
risks associated with new developments are kept small, and this has
helped substantially slow down the overall trend of growth in landslide
B. Reduce Risk by Improving the Stability of Existing Slopes
The HK government has developed an ongoing programme that involves
systematically selecting and studying all government slopes, followed by
maintenance and the upgrading of any that prove substandard. When it
comes to privately-owned slopes, the government actively encourages
their owners to maintain them regularly and upgrade them, if found
1. Upgrade Government Slopes
1976, the GEO has begun to implement an ongoing Landslip Preventive
Measures (LPM) Programme with the objective of upgrading these old
man-made government slopes and retaining walls.
To ensure that it selected the ‘correct’ slopes for upgrading, the GEO
developed a risk-based priority classification system utilizing the
results of Quantitative Risk Assessment, and created a Slope Catalogue
containing essential information for the systematic selection of
A five-year accelerated LPM Programme was introduced in 1995 as a result
of the 1994 Kwun Lung Lau failure, involving total capital expenditure
of HK$2.9 billion. In the extended 10-year LPM Programme (2000-2010),
the government has committed to upgrading 2,500 substandard government
slopes and retaining walls, with an estimated cost of around HK$9
billion at March 1999 prices.
2. Maintain all Government Slopes
There are about 57,000 man-made slopes registered in the Catalogue of
Slopes. The government systematically maintains all its 39,000
government slopes through the slope maintenance programmes of the
relevant works departments.
The GEO provides these works departments with guidelines for the slope
maintenance programme, and conducts slope maintenance audits to help
them improve their slope maintenance works. The government’s current
annual expenditure on slope maintenance is about HK$600 million.
3. Promote the Maintenance of Private Slopes
The GEO carries out safety screening for private slopes as part of the
LPM Programme. If any existing private slope is considered to be
dangerous or liable to become dangerous, the GEO recommends the Building
Authority to serve a Dangerous Hillside (DH) Order on the private
owners. They must then investigate the slope and propose any remedial
A dedicated “Community Advisory Unit” (CAU) has also been set up within
the GEO, with the task of helping private slope owners undertake their
slope maintenance responsibilities. The unit performs direct community
outreach advisory services, and provides slope owners with all the
relevant information they need.
C. Reduce Risk by Minimizing the Possible Consequences of
It is also involved in
educating the public about appropriate precautions to take during heavy
rain. It has established a Landslip Warning System that alerts the
public to any potential landslide danger. In addition, the GEO operates
a 24-hour emergency service, providing geotechnical advice to various
government departments on steps that should be taken after a landslide
incident. The primary objective of this service is to protect the public
from hazards associated with landslides.
Landslip Warning - Educate The Public to Take Precautions
The most important thing is the involvement of the general public in
taking precaution measures. GEO has developed a comprehensive proactive
strategy to educate the public to take the necessary precautions
especially when the Landslip Warning is in force. It involves
partnership with the community in promoting public awareness of slope
safety through education, public campaigns and information services.
30th Anniversary Brochure,
Geotechnical Engineering Office
Civil Engineering and Development Department
Lim Guan Eng, DAP
Secretary-General & Penang Chief Minister