Is Bukit Kiara Park Makeover Worth The Millions Spent? – Lim Chui Choo

image

The toilets undergoing costly renovation at Lembah Kiara Park. – The Malaysian Insider pic, April 16, 2014

“The nation behaves well if it treats its natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired in value.” – Theodore Roosevelt

After almost four years, a “dead” man-made waterfall that used to be the source of life in Lembah Kiara Park will spring to life again before completion of upgrades by the National Landscape Department (JLN) in mid-May.

And all because JLN said that it did not have the budget to buy a new pump to replace the one broken down since 2010.

Above the waterfall, a half-painted red steel bridge lies in suspension propped up by a make-shift steel scaffolding. This steel bridge is being constructed to replace the wooden suspension bridge fondly dubbed by park users as “Indy Jones’s bridge” which had made LKP famous.

Why are “rigid” materials like steel plates used for the base and solid steel railings for the sides if the bridge is a suspension bridge?

More importantly, will the new bridge be safe for park users given the heavy load of the steel plates used for the base and with solid steel railings added on for the sides which have yet to be installed?

Why were the original cables supporting the twin pillars at both ends of the bridge not changed or strengthened in line with the upgrade of the new bridge?

Apparently, two additional smaller cables have been extended midway from the bridge to a makeshift constructed concrete base on the slope after concerns were raised but will these be sufficient to steady the bridge once the steel scaffolding below the steely bridge are removed?

Why were suggestions from park users to use natural material like chengal wood, which would blend in with the natural environment and had withstood the park and its users in good stead for the past 20 years not considered by JLN in its “makeover” of the suspension bridge?

Whatever design JLN may have on its “upgraded” steel bridge, park users will rather wait in suspense for 25 heads of departments from the relevant authorities to make their maiden walk across the bridge first, based on the maximum weight allowed on good old Indy.

A park user, Mr Shah, had complained last week he slipped and nearly fell on the supposedly anti-slip steely bridge after the rain.

Park users are also asking why the “super bungalow” toilet has been converted into a “resort office” for JLN enforcement officers.

Their cries reached a crescendo during the recent water crisis when the old run-down toilets at the entrance of the park was closed temporarily resulting in some park users having to answer the call of nature in the bushes!

image

The pond filled with still water in the Lembah Kiara Park. – The Malaysian Insider pic, April 16, 2014.

The existing toilets at the entrance of the park are insufficient (only two each for women and men) and are smelly which makes one wonder why JLN is spending millions in “upgrades” when a basic amenity is lacking and not maintained in the park.

A new toilet at the entrance had been built next to the existing old one only to be abandoned as JLN later discovered it will pollute a nearby stream.

Why not convert this new abandoned toilet into an office rather than waste more taxpayers’ monies to convert the costly “super bungalow toilet” in the park? Shouldn’t any conversion of the super bungalow toilet rightfully be designed for the rakyat’s benefit?

Park users are also questioning why they need to be monitored by the authorities when all they do is walk, jog, breathe and do tai chi?

What is the rationale for enforcement officers to be housed in a “resort office”? Any effective enforcement is mostly at the first point of entry, that is, at the entrance of park.

There is an existing spacious security house at the entrance of the park which is under-utilised. Why not use the existing security house to accommodate whatever enforcement officers?

Park users are also questioning the one too many gazebos (eight) and “rehat platforms” that seem unutilised, especially on weekdays.

In fact, the “rehat platforms” have already posed maintenance issues with fallen leaves and branches from the trees encircling them, while the polymer composite planks appear chipped or broken in some places.

Was there also a necessity to replace all the old power cables and working antique pole lights?

While new cables and lighting up on the jogging track were necessary and a welcome sight to park users, the existing cables and lights down were working except for probably only a handful of lights.

Was it cost effective to replace all the antique poles and to install 230 lights with electricity rates up by 15%?

After the initial haste to complete the unnecessary structures, there was a temporary halt to the JLN upgrades while mosquitoes multiply and make hay in the park.

An English expatriate who has made Malaysia his second home in Taman Tun Dr Ismail had this to say: “I went round the park last weekend – sad to see all the mud holes full of water- good mosquito breeding there, too. Got bitten to bits – a bit ironic when there is a banner outside about the war on Aedes… Really sad to see how the park has ‘improved’.”

image

The ‘upgraded’ steel bridge. – The Malaysian Insider pic, April 16, 2014.

Another French expatriate was more scathing about the “upgrades” in the park when he took his children there in December 2013.

He was “horrified by what LKP had turned into and I’ll never ever want to come back here again…”

Other park users like Siti Hansen, Mohamad and Pete Chin asked what happened to their suggestions for more “softscape” in the park.

If only JLN had spent a little of the taxpayers’ money in what had made Putrajaya proud and famous, park users might be singing a different tune. – April 16, 2014.

* Lim Chui Choo is a child of nature and reads The Malaysian Insider.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

Join Friends of Bukit Kiara inaugural General Meeting this Sat. 19th April, 11:00 in TTDI !
Bukit Kiara, as one of the last green lung in KL, is under threat of destruction of its flora and fauna by irresponsible organizations bent on turning the pristine forest into another concrete jungle.  Help us to preserve and conserve Bukit Kiara by joining as a member of Friends of Bukit Kiara at the Inaugural General Meeting on Saturday, 19 April 2014 at 11:00 am at the SKTTDI (2), Jalan Abang Haji Openg, TTDI.  Show your support together with your family and friends. With strength in numbers, we can make a difference.
Henry Goh - Malaysian Nature Society

Join Friends of Bukit Kiara inaugural General Meeting this Sat. 19th April, 11:00 in TTDI !

Bukit Kiara, as one of the last green lung in KL, is under threat of destruction of its flora and fauna by irresponsible organizations bent on turning the pristine forest into another concrete jungle.

Help us to preserve and conserve Bukit Kiara by joining as a member of Friends of Bukit Kiara at the Inaugural General Meeting on Saturday, 19 April 2014 at 11:00 am at the SKTTDI (2), Jalan Abang Haji Openg, TTDI.

Show your support together with your family and friends. With strength in numbers, we can make a difference.

Henry Goh - Malaysian Nature Society

Keep Bukit Kiara clean, green and refreshing

image

By Dr. Pola Singh - The Star Online, 31 March 2014

I live near the Bukit Kiara Park. If God had granted me one wish in my lifetime, that wish would be to live next to a spacious green lung and clean natural forest.

And yes, my dream has sort of come true. Like hundreds of other residents in my neighbourhood, I walk up the hill every other day and enjoy the cool fresh air and relish a good workout.

The Bukit Kiara Park not only provides a great place to exercise but also for children to play, families to gather, neighbours to meet and stressed-out city folks and nature lovers to enjoy a peaceful retreat.

Aside from enjoying a good workout at this green lung, its tranquil and pleasant setting is home to many wild plants, birds, monkeys and other animals.

Thanks to the good work of the Trails Association of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, which builds and maintains mountain bike trails all around Bukit Kiara, the public can now go on a number of interesting jungle trails while enjoying the beauty of nature.

All of this would mean nothing if efforts to keep Bukit Kiara clean and green are not given serious attention.

If left unchecked, Bukit Kiara will slowly become a rubbish dump.

Along the paved roads, dustbins are often toppled by the monkeys and rubbish gets strewn all over.

Hardly a soul would put things right and when I do, I only get cold stares.

The cleanliness of the area around the guardhouses should be the responsibility of the guards.

Many a time, when the monkeys topple the big trash bins, the security guards simply ignore the scattered rubbish and pretend that they don’t notice the toppled bin. The guards should be conscious of keeping their environment clean by playing their part or be directed to do so by the authorities.

While the authorities do collect this trash once in a while, this is not so along the jungle trails.

As more and more walkers, hikers and cyclists sweat it out on this increasingly popular hill, especially during the weekends, the jungle trails are now besieged with an increasing amount of trash.

It appears that some of them do not seem to care about keeping the hill clean. They take the easy way out by dumping their rubbish along the trails.

Empty plastic bottles and bags, umbrellas and jogging paraphernalia are discarded and scattered all over.

Every time I hike up the Bukit Kiara jungle trails, my heart sinks when I see plastic bottles strewn along the trails. They have become an eyesore.

Bukit Kiara will lose its charm if such attitudes are not changed.

I would like to appeal to all hikers, walkers and cyclists using the jungle trails to be more responsible by refraining from throwing any trash on the trail but instead take their trash out especially the empty mineral water bottles.

To get rid of the existing trash, they could do all of us a great favour by picking up one piece of trash each time they go on their hike or cycling trip.

The message to be internalised by all: Please leave your footprints, not your trash.

Dr. Pola Singh, Kuala Lumpur

Bukit Kiara Lovers Strive On - Free Malaysia Today

| March 9, 2014

Activists and authorities are still at loggerheads over the future of the green sanctuary.

Kuala Lumpur: Adjacent to the affluent neighbourhood of Taman Tun Dr Ismail lies a green sanctuary that nature lovers have been struggling to keep intact against the authorities’ intention to turn it into a “world class” park.

Bukit Kiara, a secondary forest that covers 188.93 hectares of land, boasts a leafy woodland experience with tall trees shading jungle trails and small animals roaming free.

It is a favourite place for joggers, mountain bikers and others seeking relief from the noise and polluted air of the surrounding areas, but they are worried that ongoing efforts by the National Landscape Department (NLD) to turn it into a park might kill its pristine beauty forever.

Once a rubber estate, Bukit Kiara was acquired by the federal government in the 1980s to build public parks and a national mausoleum.

Since then, however, tracts have been given away for golf courses and an equestrian club.

On paper, the hill is divided into seven parcels, with Berjaya Corporation owning 25.1 hectares of it, Measat owning another parcel and the rest belonging to the NLD.

Berjaya wanted to develop its land into real estate, but the bid was blocked by Kuala Lumpur City Hall. At the same time, however, NLD has embarked on a series of efforts to “upgrade” the hill with built structures.

A perimeter fence 3.5m high and 4.7km long is being erected and is 80% complete. NLD has claimed that the purpose is to demarcate Bukit Kiara from neighbouring private lands.

Other developments include the construction of a retention wall to prevent landslips.

The Friends of Bukit Kiara (FOBK), a loose coalition of NGOs, has accused the authorities of allowing the hill to be destroyed by the new structures.

Maintain Bukit Kiara

FOBK says the fence, which it calls The Great Wall of Bukit Kiara, was built at the expense of cutting down some 3,000 mature trees.

Activists also say the fence is disastrous to small animals, lethally preventing them from crossing the divide.

“We have seen dead turtles and snakes that had tried to to get pass the fence,” said Henry Goh of Malaysia Nature Society, which is a member of FOBK.

“The fence is going to kill off all the ground dwelling animals,” he said.

“We want Bukit Kiara to be maintained as it is.”

To press its demands, FOBK has, since 2011, organised three marches under its Save Bukit Kiara Walk programme and collected 10,000 signatures for a petition.

It has also taken the case to the Ministry of Housing and Local Governments, which oversees the NLD.

It is demanding, among other things, that authorities gazette the hill as a forest reserve, remove the fence and stop all construction projects.

There have been a series of talks between FOBK and the ministry, the latest occurring last January. These have not borne any fruit.

According to Goh, the two sides were still at loggerheads over the fence and arguing over whether to gazette the hill as a park or a forest reserve.

Reject All Development Plans For Bukit Kiara - The Star Online

Since Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor’s appointment as the Federal Territories Minister, he has given assurance to KLites that one of his priorities will be to maintain more green spaces in the Federal Territories.

Friends of Bukit Kiara (FoBK) wholeheartedly welcomes this pledge.

At the same time, existing green lungs should be preserved and protected.

Take for instance, Bukit Kiara in Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI), one of the few remaining green lungs in the city. It is a haven for joggers, cyclists and nature lovers, and home to many wild plants, birds and monkeys.

Sadly, this green lung has been slowly “eaten up” from all sides over the past few years. Bukit Kiara’s strategic location is indisputable. It would be a shame if such beauty is exploited in the name of development.

The residents, together with Friends of Bukit Kiara, Malaysian Nature Society, Trails Association of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor and other organisations, have long been fighting to preserve the area as a green lung.

We hope the minister can assist us in this effort by immediately speeding up the gazetting of the 188.93ha at Bukit Kiara as a permanent forest reserve.

In 2007, the Cabinet decided to keep 188.93ha of the park green and FoBK feels that this decision should be respected by all.

What is of utmost concern to FoBK is the status of the 25ha of Lot 52314 meant for use as “polo and equestrian grounds” only.

FoBK is happy if the current status remains as it is not changing to commercial development.

FoBK hopes that the Federal Territories Minister will direct Kuala Lumpur City Hall (the approving authority for all projects in Bukit Kiara) not to consider approving any development plans submitted by private entrepreneurs.

The ministry and DBKL should maintain Bukit Kiara’s status as a green belt (as per the Cabinet’s decision in 2007) and should not allow anyone to claim any stake in it for development.

We hope that the minister can come up with an official statement rejecting any form of development in the Bukit Kiara area as it is one of the few green lungs left in the city.

Liew Khooi Cheng and Dr Pola Singh - Friends of Bukit Kiara

Bukit Kiara: Open Letter To Jabatan Landskap Negara

Save Bukit Kiara, oppose Berjaya

Dear Jabatan Lanskap Negara,

I am writing this letter to you in dismay and shock at not only your inability to carry out your duties as your namesake suggests, but also at the arrogance (or is it ignorance) which you have chosen to display in the recent months with regards to Bukit Kiara.

Despite the earlier stop work order on the fencing works that was issued by Datuk Seri Chor Chee Heung (The Star Online, 31 July 2012), the fence works have since resumed, under the orders of JLN. In the mentioned public session held in July of 2012, which was graced by the attendance of Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his wife Tun Jeanne Abdullah, it was clearly presented to everyone that the fence was an eyesore and a waste of money, not to mention the distress it is causing for the wildlife and destructive effect on the overall ecological system of Bukit Kiara. The contractors that had been hired by JLN left also behind rubbish and debris everywhere they went, and at some point even resorted to burning trees to ease their work, and/or to hide their rubbish. All the fencing work had been stopped then at the order of Datuk Seri Chor, but JLN has since gone back on their word and started fence building works once again. 

image

What Is The Point Of The Fence?

JLN knows that as soon as these fences go up, the wildlife are not able to pass through freely to and from their natural habitats. Not only that, if the purpose is to keep out the illegal rubber tappers and settlers, they have failed miserably! Because there are now a number of gaping holes in the fence and holes have been dug under the fences, so life goes on as usual for these illegal tappers and settlers, who are probably mocking JLN for the useless fence that was a waste of money to start with! If you are serious about solving an issue, nip the problem in the bud, not at the leaf! Whose money has gone into the construction of the fence, and how much of it has gone to waste now? Does JLN intend to put out more contracts to repair these holes, and at what (and whose) expense?

image

Further to that, even more recently JLN again engaged (yet) another contractor to perform ‘slope rectification’ works along the tarmac road in Bukit Kiara. However, again, JLN in their usual manner has left it to the contractors to carry out the work without any supervision or guidelines. Not only are the contractors destroying the slope that was supposed to be repaired, but they are now seen to be causing even more problems! First, they use a bulldozer to completely bulldoze the hillside of all the trees.

Then all the soil is left loose and especially now during the rainy season, all the mud has nowhere to go but downhill, which is the walking tarmac, and into the drains and down all the way to the bottom of the hill. This creates further erosion, and not to mention a muddy mess at the lower points of the road. Further to that, many users of Bukit Kiara have commented on how the contractors parked the heavy machineries on the sides of the newly cleared slope, without caring it will slide off the side of the slope and fall onto someone should the loose soil move with more rain.  How is safety not a Standard Operating Procedure for JLN?

Even if it is not for the safety of your contractors or yourselves, what about the thousands of walkers/joggers/bikers who use the tarmac road in Bukit Kiara every day? 

image

As if that was not enough, in the last week or so (1st week January 2014), there have been reports (and again, photo evidence taken by members of the public) of the contractors taking all the excess soil from the problem slope and conveniently dumping it all down the opposite side of the lower slope! What happens on the lower slope now? What happens to the clean, pristine water source(s) that are beneath? Are the contractors aware that there are other offroad trails on the lower slope and dumping of the soil could cause not only another landslide but possibly injure or even kill trail users below? Were these trails blocked off during the time of the soil dumping?

image

The trails below are now covered with mud and soil dumped from above. Do these contractors have any idea what they are doing? How does causing another bigger landslide fix a small landslide?? Is this what is called ‘slope rectification works’ according to JLN’s procedures? 

image

If JLN is simply too lazy to go on site to see  all of these problems themselves, then please have a look at these photos (all taken by concerned users of Bukit Kiara) that have been posted on to this website, for evidence of the extremely sloppy work that has been done so far.

  1. Does JLN supervise any of the work and procedures taken by the contractors? If so, then why is there mud and soil everywhere on the tarmac road now? And when a complain was lodged about it, the soil now conveniently gets dumped over the side of the hill. 
  2. Does JLN even have ANY SOPs or Guidelines for any such works to be carried out? If so, how is dumping of soil to a lower slope considered SOP? The trails below that are covered in mud and soil, and risk more landslide coming down on it, is this also JLN SOP?
  3. Are ANY environmental concerns taken into consideration at all with any such projects?
  4. Does JLN know how to take care of Bukit Kiara? What use is JLN if only contractors are used all the time instead of JLN doing it themselves?
  5. Does JLN even care about what goes on in Bukit Kiara, or is it a burden that you have been ‘assigned’ with?
  6. Why does JLN see the need to spend so much money unnecessarily? 
  7. Is JLN willing to listen to the rakyat and the users as to how Bukit Kiara should be handled, or is JLN embarking on their own ‘Solo Mission’ to destroy a precious natural resource into a concrete park, filled with only concrete walkways, retail and food stalls, car parks and God forbid, even administrative buildings?

Wake Up, JLN!

Do you know what a gem you have in Bukit Kiara? All you have proven so far is just destruction of Bukit Kiara. In all of your plans, you continuously compare Bukit Kiara to being built up as a ‘Central Park’ or ‘Hyde Park’, but why must it be modeled after any of these parks when it can be made into something even more unique and special? 

Imagine Bukit Kiara being built up as a NATURAL forest reserve, with native trees, hand built walking/biking trails that are built naturally and sustainable while easily accessible by all, wooden benches (NOT concrete) to rest your tired legs, wooden signs to mark the trails, a pristine Class 1 (drinkable from the source!!) stream flowing through some of the trails, indigenous Malaysian wildlife (snakes, macaques, tortoises, porcupines, squirrels, civet cats, birds, etc) in abundance roaming freely without being restricted by a huge ugly metal fence, the ability to go for a jog or walk or bike ride and breathe in fresh, clean air without any pollution from any motorized vehicles (i.e. NO motorbikes,

NO Quad bikes and definitely NO cars allowed). With the convenient location of Bukit Kiara between KL and PJ, this not only makes it a unique Forest Park in the middle of the city, but also something that Bukit Kiara can develop into its OWN IDENTITY and be famous on its own credentials, and NOT modeled after some famous concrete park somewhere else in the world. You have in your hands this unique opportunity here, JLN!

As it is now, many visitors are attracted to Bukit Kiara because of the way it is - NATURAL. There have even been many interests and mentions of Bukit Kiara by visitors from all over the world (just to mention a few): 

At the rate JLN is progressing, all of these will go down the drain, and there will be nothing left to boast about Bukit Kiara, except maybe “It looks exactly like that other  park in UK/America/Europe!!”. How original does that make you feel?

The Rakyat are willing to help, only if you let them. There are many voluntary organizations that are concerned with the welfare of Bukit Kiara and are there to assist, but only if you allow them to.

  1. Malaysian Nature Society (MNS),
  2. Friends of Bukit Kiara (FoBK),
  3. Trails Association of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor (TRAKS),
  4. Taman Tun Dr Ismail Residents Association (TTDI-RA),
  5. Global Environment Centre (GEC),

are among a few of the many other organizations that are deeply concerned with the way Bukit Kiara is handled now and are happy to provide input and assistance if only JLN is willing. The members of these organizations are all long time users of Bukit Kiara (with some visiting Bukit Kiara almost every day!!), and know the ins and outs of Bukit Kiara very well. MNS for example, has identified and taken countless photographs of the various unique species of wildlife that can be found in Bukit Kiara. TRAKS also, has been actively building and maintaining sustainable trails, of which many of JLN’s so called ‘rectification’ works have destroyed in the past. If you would care to look at TRAKS’ credentials, they are also affiliated with the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA), which says a lot about their ability and commitment to building sustainable trails.

To put it bluntly, who would you think knows what they want better, the long time users of Bukit Kiara, or a department that has been ‘assigned’ as the caretaker? By not engaging the users in a proper manner, your silence and refusal to listen or work with anyone else has been seen as arrogance and JLN only portraying themselves as a department with no clear vision nor ability to take care of anything more than just small backyard gardens, as is evident now with the way ALL the works have been done so far at Bukit Kiara! All concerned users of Bukit Kiara are now very disappointed and angry at the way JLN has been handling themselves and these projects at Bukit Kiara.

I pray hard that one day Bukit Kiara will have some hope to be gazetted and become known as one of the best Forest Parks in the world for the right reasons, a special place that was built and maintained together by JLN and the Rakyat.

It is time to look outside the box. I sincerely hope JLN will take this opportunity to work with the rakyat instead of against. It will be a win-win situation for all at the end of the day. As Tun Abdullah and Tun Jeanne put it so aptly at the closing of the public consultation meeting back in July 2012, “Let us work together with the ‘Power of Love’ and not the ‘Love of Power“.

Thank you.

Stanley N.

Someone To Explain Why Is Bukit Kiara Draft Plan Covered By The Official Secret Act?

Jump directly to the section in bold letters. Why the *** would anyone ask Members Of Parliament to sign a agreement under the Official Secret Acts to discuss the future of Bukit Kiara? What’s so secret about it? What is being kept hidden to the Rakyat?

Longer Wait For Gazette Of Draft Plan

By Veena Babulal - The New Straits Times, 14 Feb. 2014

Kuala Lumpur: It looks like city folk would have to wait even longer for the KL Draft City Plan 2020 plan to be gazetted.

"I wanted to gazette the plan but the rakyat are not happy, so we have to wait," said Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor at the ministry’s Chinese New Year open house yesterday. The minister, however, declined to say when the plan would be ready.

Objections by some members of parliament is said to be the cause of the delay. It is believed that MPs were asked to sign an agreement under the Official Secrets Act before viewing the draft plan. The status of the draft plan is also linked to the status of numerous land parcels and development projects.

The Bukit Kiara park is one such example as it is the largest green area in the city which has been slated for development.

The 190ha park which is divided into seven plots has yet to be gazetted as a green lung.

Berjaya Corporation owns 25.1ha of the park and wants to build a hospital and an international school.

Desa Sri Hartamas Residents’ Association president Mohamed Shukri Zain is among those who want the park to remain as a green lung. “We want the park to be gazetted as a green lung. We are not against development but we need it to be sustainable,” said Shukri.

Stakeholders have been waiting for the past three to four years for the draft plan to be gazetted. Once gazetted the local plan would be the blueprint for development in the city. 

The Great Wall Of Bukit Kiara: For Protection Or Profit? – Lim Chui Choo

January 15, 2014, The Malaysian Insider

“Only after the last tree has been cut down,

only after the last river has been poisoned,

only after the last fish has been caught,

only then will you find that you cannot eat money.” – Cree Indian prophecy

“The Great Wall of Bukit Kiara”, an ugly 3.5m high metal fencing stretching 4.7km was constructed on the quiet in late 2010 to demarcate the last remaining green lung in Kuala Lumpur from private owners on what was originally a rubber plantation of 647ha.

It stands as a grim reminder of the abuse and degradation to the environment where swarthes of flora and fauna were callously cleared, the famed 30km trail painstakingly crafted by The Trail Association Of Kuala Lumpur & Selangor (TRAKS) fragmented with pollution to a pristine downhill stream. For video, click here.

Constructed at an astronomical cost of RM20 million, it embodies significance of a “green awakening” of the people to protest against it, amid fears of impending development in the defenceless Bukit Kiara, a refuge for thousands of people from all walks of life. The protest culminated in three peaceful Save Bukit Kiara walks in a valiant effort to protect and preserve the last remaining green lung in the city as a unique forest park.

In defence of the fencing, six reasons were given by the Minister of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government to justify “The Great Wall Of Bukit Kiara”:

1. To ease security control of visitors by enforcement agencies

How is this justified when there is only one entry and exit used by visitors at the foot of the hill to access Bukit Kiara which is already manned by security? Do visitors to the park pose a security threat or need to be “controlled by enforcement agencies” when all they do is walk, jog or bike in Bukit Kiara?

2. To curb illegal settlement

Are there no other cost-effective ways to curb this problem than to construct a costly RM20 million ugly fencing? The problem of illegal settlement is common everywhere in Malaysia, especially at hill slopes and rivers and a more holistic way has to be worked out to tackle the problem than a costly RM20 million fencing.

3. To control and prevent trespassers and illegal rubber tapping

Can this be justified when such activities have increased since the fencing as evident from the plastic bags galore hanging at rubber trees to collect latex as well as the sighting of “illegal tappers” skillfully tapping with a high pole in Bukit Kiara?

4. To control boundary trespassing by neighbouring landowners

Will the minister please first explain why a plot of 25 hectares designated by the Cabinet in June 2007 to be part of the people’s park known as Taman Awam Bersekala Besar (TABB) was “fenced” off to a private developer?

Is the fencing along Magic Carpet Trail designed to control park-users from “trespassing” into the 25 hectares rightfully belonging to the people’s park? Why is the plot of disputed land now reclassified as Lot 55534 from its original designation as Lot 52314?

5. To ease process of land gazettement according to lot boundaries and surveyor plans

Till today, there has been no sign of any process towards gazettement of Bukit Kiara since June 2007 when the Cabinet designated and approved 189 hectares of Kiara land to be TABB for the Rakyat. Despite repeated assurances given by the authorities, the oft-repeated excuse for dragging their feet were issues posed by the leased lots of Berjaya’s equestrian lot and Measat lot of 40.5 hectares within TABB.

This begs the question as to why the authorities allowed caveats to be placed on the titles of these leased lots in April 2008 and 2009 respectively after they have been designated in June 2007 to be part of TABB, thereby complicating the thorny land ownership issue?

Side Views

The Great Wall of Bukit Kiara: For protection or profit? – Lim Chui Choo

January 15, 2014

“Only after the last tree has been cut down,

only after the last river has been poisoned,

only after the last fish has been caught,

only then will you find that you cannot eat money.” – Cree Indian prophecy

“The Great Wall of Bukit Kiara”, an ugly 3.5m high metal fencing stretching 4.7km was constructed on the quiet in late 2010 to demarcate the last remaining green lung in Kuala Lumpur from private owners on what was originally a rubber plantation of 647ha.

It stands as a grim reminder of the abuse and degradation to the environment where swarthes of flora and fauna were callously cleared, the famed 30km trail painstakingly crafted by The Trail Association Of Kuala Lumpur & Selangor (TRAKS) fragmented with pollution to a pristine downhill stream. For video, click here.

The Great Wall of Bukit Kiara. – January 15, 2014.The Great Wall of Bukit Kiara. – January 15, 2014.Constructed at an astronomical cost of RM20 million, it embodies significance of a “green awakening” of the people to protest against it, amid fears of impending development in the defenceless Bukit Kiara, a refuge for thousands of people from all walks of life. The protest culminated in three peaceful Save Bukit Kiara walks in a valiant effort to protect and preserve the last remaining green lung in the city as a unique forest park.

In defence of the fencing, six reasons were given by the Minister of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government to justify “The Great Wall Of Bukit Kiara”:

1. To ease security control of visitors by enforcement agencies

How is this justified when there is only one entry and exit used by visitors at the foot of the hill to access Bukit Kiara which is already manned by security? Do visitors to the park pose a security threat or need to be “controlled by enforcement agencies” when all they do is walk, jog or bike in Bukit Kiara?

2. To curb illegal settlement

Are there no other cost-effective ways to curb this problem than to construct a costly RM20 million ugly fencing? The problem of illegal settlement is common everywhere in Malaysia, especially at hill slopes and rivers and a more holistic way has to be worked out to tackle the problem than a costly RM20 million fencing.

The problem of illegal rubber tapping will not be solved by building a fence.  –  January 15, 2014.The problem of illegal rubber tapping will not be solved by building a fence. – January 15, 2014.3. To control and prevent trespassers and illegal rubber tapping

Can this be justified when such activities have increased since the fencing as evident from the plastic bags galore hanging at rubber trees to collect latex as well as the sighting of “illegal tappers” skillfully tapping with a high pole in Bukit Kiara?

4. To control boundary trespassing by neighbouring landowners

Will the minister please first explain why a plot of 25 hectares designated by the Cabinet in June 2007 to be part of the people’s park known as Taman Awam Bersekala Besar (TABB) was “fenced” off to a private developer?

Is the fencing along Magic Carpet Trail designed to control park-users from “trespassing” into the 25 hectares rightfully belonging to the people’s park? Why is the plot of disputed land now reclassified as Lot 55534 from its original designation as Lot 52314?

5. To ease process of land gazettement according to lot boundaries and surveyor plans

Till today, there has been no sign of any process towards gazettement of Bukit Kiara since June 2007 when the Cabinet designated and approved 189 hectares of Kiara land to be TABB for the Rakyat. Despite repeated assurances given by the authorities, the oft-repeated excuse for dragging their feet were issues posed by the leased lots of Berjaya’s equestrian lot and Measat lot of 40.5 hectares within TABB.

This begs the question as to why the authorities allowed caveats to be placed on the titles of these leased lots in April 2008 and 2009 respectively after they have been designated in June 2007 to be part of TABB, thereby complicating the thorny land ownership issue?

Why has no action been taken since to ensure these two lots in TABB are being surrendered back to the government and subsequently reserved and gazetted as government land for the Rakyat’s benefit as dictated by a 9 August 1999 Policy of the National Land Council for Local Government (NCLG) with respect to “open spaces” which these two lots fall under?

6. To ease government’s efforts to implement development and make the park a world class arboretum including the conservation and preservation of the environment and Sungai Penchala water source

Is the fencing then built primarily to facilitate development in and out of TABB? Admittedly, this may be the real reason for the RM20 million fencing in order to implement the grand development plans of the ministry through its National Landscape Department or JLN. But at the cost of callously clearing swarthes of flora and fauna, thousands of trees, damaging the unique trails while polluting the pristine water streams downhill just to accommodate it? Would such an activity constitute “conservation and preservation of the environment and water source” as expounded by the authorities?

Despite the abuse and destruction to the forest in Bukit Kiara by the 80% completed fencing which was halted by a Save Bukit Kiara campaign resulting in a stop-work order given by the then minister, the fencing has resumed in October 2013 without consultation with Friends of Bukit Kiara (FoBK). How can anyone have respect for a government that does not keep or honour its word?

Can the authorities boast of efforts to “conserve and preserve the environment” or making “a world class arboretum “ in Bukit Kiara when the completion of the fencing has caught international attention with what a supporter has labelled as being “birdbrain”?

If this was not laughable enough, the authorities have tried to defend the indefensible by saying that “the fence is wildlife-friendly and will allow animals to pass underneath”. A recent TRAKS posting of a slithering cobra stopped in its tracks by the supposedly “wildlife-friendly” fencing has thrown this preposterous claim out of the err… Mickey!

So, will the environment and “wildlife-friendly” authorities please remove the fencing as urged by FoBK and leave the unique forest in Bukit Kiara, a national treasure, for the Rakyat’s benefit by gazetting 189ha of TABB as approved by Cabinet since June 2007? – January 15, 2014.

* Lim Chui Choo is a child of nature.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

Bukit Kiara: Many Trees Chopped Down - New Straits Times

image

Farez Najme Khir says the wildlife in Bukit Kiara will be badly affected by the fencing project. Pic by Surianie Mohd Hanif

OBJECTION: As the fencing project resumes in Bukit Kiara, the public express their concern over damage to the park’s environment

Kuala Lumpur: A five-kilometre forest trail starting from SK Sri Hartamas  has been cleared to make way for the fencing of Bukit Kiara, the largest green sanctuary in the city.

The fencing exercise has come under fire from various groups who claimed that the move will harm the environment.

During a hike recently, Streets found a large barren area with a number of tree trunks and branches left lying around.

It is believed that hundreds of trees were recently chopped down and there are fears that more trees will fall to make way for the project.

Regular park visitors say the trail of chopped trees extends further into the Twin Peaks and beyond the Vantage Point.

Before a stop-work order was issued against the fencing project by the National Landscape Department (NLD) in July 2012, groups fighting to preserve the park had estimated that 3,000 trees may be lost just to accommodate the fence.

And by then 80 per cent of the project would have been completed.

A member of a cycling association, Farez Najme Khir, said the wildlife there would be badly affected by the fencing project as the animals would not be able to access their natural routes to roam about the 190ha park.

"Half of Bukit Kiara would soon be fenced off and there are tyre tracks of lorries and heavy machinery on this path which are going deeper and deeper into the forest," said the 31-year-old who has been witnessing the devastation.

He also pleaded to Berjaya Corporation, which was planning to build, among others, a hospital and an international school there, to review its development project.

He urged the company to instead turn the area into an eco-centre with nature trails, running tracks, an arena for photography competitions, horse riding and mountain biking and packaging it into a tourist attraction.

A hiker, who declined to be named, said a fence running along the Sprint Highway was further proof of the clearing.

"They claimed the fencing was erected to prevent trespassers from encroaching on the land and illegally tapping rubber trees. But this is not a good enough reason," he said, echoing most of the hikers’ views.

An expatriate, who wished to remain anonymous, said Bukit Kiara faces an uncertain future.

"I am a regular visitor here and I have seen the outcome of the fencing project.

"I don’t understand why they resumed a project they could not validate in the first place," he added.

Desa Sri Hartamas Residents Association president Mohamed Shukri Zain said the consensus among residents was to leave the park as it was and speed up the gazetting of the area as a green lung.

"There should be no fencing or development here. We are running out of green areas and this is one of the last parks in the city which draws many people. It it also home to many animals.

"With development comes congestion and then more development. Very soon the whole park will be swallowed up by projects," he said.

Friends of Bukit Kiara member Henry Goh said that it was unfortunate that the community was still in the dark about the project, which he believed resumed a month ago.

"We attended a meeting with the Minister of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government and the top ranking officers of NLD after the stop work order was issued.

"The understanding was that we would be kept informed of further development. They also promised to repair and rectify the damage done but when I saw the massive clearance, it’s obvious there is even more damage," he said, adding that numerous letters sent to the department had also gone unanswered.

 ”From what we have seen, the structure of the fence is so weak, a lot of erosion has taken place. So how can it keep out illegals as claimed,” he said, adding that despite the fencing, he has seen people driving out in small lorries after tapping rubber.

Goh said the NLD had also chopped some 50 mature trees as a mitigation measure after a small landslip occurred last week.

He fears that the fencing would open the floodgates for other projects as there are many developers eyeing the area.

"We suspect that there are underlying reasons why the area is fenced," he said, adding that the government had stated that it was difficult to rezone the whole park and gazette it as a green lung as the park was divided into seven parcels of land belonging to a number of government bodies and private companies.

Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) communications head Andrew Sebastian said the NGO would mobilise a group of people to monitor the forested area.

The New Straits Times, 10 January 2014