MPPJ was caught hiding its plan to bulldoze the controversial SJKC Damansara: another reason for the Third Vote campaign.

Media Statement
Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew

(Petaling Jaya, Thursday):MPPJ, the local town council for Petaling Jaya once again put up six amendments to the Petaling Jaya Local Plan 1 (1997-2010) quietly on 3 May 2005 without any public announcement.

As one of the six local government agencies chosen for the Local Agenda 21 in the country, MPPJ has shamelessly tried to bulldoze its local plan without informing the residents affected by the amendments.

This is another reason why Malaysians should support the Restoration of Local Government Elections campaign launched by the DAP since March 1 this year.

One of the biggest victims this round was the Damansara New Village residents. The controversial original SJKC Damansara was apparently re-classified as "residential area with a high density" together with the adjacent plot of land originally earmarked for commercial use (next to Damansara Intan).

With the approval of the amendment, SJKC Damansara which has been forced to close down by the Government in 2001 will be torn down to give way to condominiums.

The turn of event has proven the so-called DAP's conspiracy theory correct. MCA leaders who have accused the DAP on the matter must now apologize to our party.

The Damansara people who wish to preserve their school has only one month (i.e. until 3 June) to submit their objections.

In 2003, I have described the Rancangan Tempatan Petaling Jaya 1 (1997-2010) which was gazetted on 18 March 2003 as "master plan short of mastery".

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 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.

Another group of disappointed people must have come from Sungei Way. In 2002, 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 note, none of the big wigs has given any explanation to the effected people as of today. The only thing we heard was that the PJ Utara MP Chew Mei Fun has decided to wash her hands on the matter. She has told the affected villagers to seek help for Donald Lim as the area concerned was now delineated to PJ Selatan constituency. Such behavior has upset the PJ Selatan MP, who holds the view that Chew should help the villagers as promised instead of passing the "hot potatoes" to him.

Besides, Petaling Jaya has fast becoming a billboard town. MPPJ councilors do not think that they were accountable to the PJ residents. They just do whatever they want to do without consulting the PJ residents on the matter.

Restoration of the third vote would help rekindle the hope for the local people to have more say in determining the quality of life for themselves. Councilors elected by the people could then participate in all decision-making processes in the interest of the people.


* Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP International Secretary and NGO bureau chief