A master plan lacks of professionalism, transparency and democracy

Public forum on Petaling Jaya Local Plan 1(1997-2010)
by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): After studying the Rancangan Tempatan Petaling Jaya 1 (1997-2010) which was gazetted on 18 March 2003, I cannot help but compelled to call it " A master plan short of mastery".

To begin with, the master plan is full of generalised statements without concrete plans and proposals. This is not a master plan that the PJ residents could be proud of. In fact, the authority has yet to explain the logic of drafting the master plan in stages, instead of having a master plan that covers the entire PJ areas.

The master plan started on a wrong footing. It was done without consultation with the residents in the first place, and the views and suggestions highlighted during public briefings and subsequent hearings were either ignored or taken lightly. The entire process of drafting and approving of the master plan did not reflect the spirit of Local Agenda 21 subscribed by the MPPJ.

The villagers in Kg Damansara (Section 17A), for instance, have made their case with Datuk Mokhtar Dahalan (the state Exco in-charge of the master plan) at the last hearing. They told him in no uncertain term, that they wanted to maintain the status quo of Damansara New Village as a kampung and all they need from the state is allocation of funds for beautification, and most importantly, re-open the Damansara Chinese primary school for their young children. But the gazetted plan remains totally unchanged, i.e. turning the new village to clusters of apartment. No mention of beautification plans whatsoever. No effort shown to reopen the Damansara school. Absolutely no respect at all to the views and aspirations of the villagers.

The first draft was out in April last year without much publicity. The price of RM150 per copy was exorbitant, prohibitive and simply ridiculous. The MPPJ did not bother to upload the draft plan in its website. The public briefings were done in haste and some of the complainants who submitted their protests were not even called to attend hearing by the MPPJ. And the next thing we learned, it was gazetted without second hearing with the complainants as promised. And once again, the MPPJ did not bother to upload the gazetted plan in its website, and one has to purchase the report at RM 100 per copy. In short, there was no professionalism, transparency and democracy.

The Shadow MPPJ has sent letters to the MPPJ chairperson Datuk Abdul Karim Munisar, State Assemblyman of Bukit Gasing, MPs for PJ Selatan and PJ Utara to invite them to speak in the forum. None of them is here tonight. They should be bold enough to face the residents and explain their case to the people.

The PJ people have the right to voice their views and demand the authority to improve the master plan even after the gazette. After all, we are the ones who live and work in Petaling Jaya. We would compile your views and suggestions and present a memorandum to the MPPJ and the state government.

Another group of disappointed people must have come from Sungei Way. Last year, they were told to leave their homes and make way for a housing project on one hand, and the draft master plan published at about the same time stated that their plot of land will be turned into a light industrial area on the other hand. They were later told by the MCA big wigs like Ong Ka Ting, Ch'ng Toh Eng and Chew Mei Fun that they may be getting titles in their names. But the gazetted plan has shattered their dreams; their land has been earmarked as light industrial zone. Sad to say, none of the big wigs has given any explanation to the effected people as of today.

There are many other flaws and weaknesses in the PJ master plan 1, such as:

  • The master plan will jeopardise the position of Petaling Jaya as a serene and quiet satellite town. The density of population of several residential areas like Section 1,2,3,4 and 8,SS9A,17A and 19 will be very much increased. The change of land use from residential to commercial in areas like Section 9A, 8 and 14 will only make the PJ town busier and noisier. All these changes will only worsen the present traffic congestion and the level of pollution.

  • There is no respect for the aspirations of the retired pensioners, especially those living in Section 1,2,3,4,5 and 8. Changing some of the residential homes to commercial buildings is never a better option for them. And the nightmare of sky-high premiums for extension of leasehold properties continues to haunt them.

  • No concrete proposals in the plan to resolve the traffic congestion, shortage of car parks and alarmingly high pollution problem. Can we afford to wait until the entire traffic system comes to a "standstill"?

  • The squatters in Section 19 (Damansara Dalam) will be evicted for redevelopment, but there are no concrete plan of relocation for the hundreds of effected families.

  • There is no provision at all for new SJKC or SJKT although the majority of the residents here (126,100) are Non-Malays. Most of the SJKC in PJ are already filled to the brim.

What do the PJ people really want from the master plan?

  • Resolve traffic congestion, flash floods and maintain all roads and drains in good condition. No more potholes and manholes that kill innocent motorists.

  • Keep the environment green and clean

  • Upgrade the public transport system. Provide more LRT stations.

  • Upgrade and maintain all fields, parks, courts and playgrounds

  • Create special walkways for pedestrians and the handicapped people.

  • Construct cycling lanes that link up the township.

  • Provide sufficient parking lots for cars and motorcycles

  • Change all outdated roundabouts to multilevel passage

  • Build low and medium cost apartments to replace squatters

  • Provide neat and tidy stalls for hawkers and small traders

  • Modern theatre for cultural performance

  • User-friendly public facilities for the handicapped groups

  • No hazardous high-tension telecommunication transmitters be allowed

  • Provide sufficient public toilets especially for the ladies

  • Construct pondok polis and hand over to the police force to help reduce crime rates

  • Liberal policies on pubs and bars and the signboards for liquor and beer advertisements

MPPJ must always remember its fundamental role as a service provider, not a developer.


* Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, Shadow MPPJ chairperson and Selangor state secretary