Bukit Kiara: Forest no place for barbed wires - The Star Online

Razor sharp: The barbed wire installed by the National Lands cape Department in Bukit Kiara can cause injury to park users

by shalini ravindran - The Star Online

Visitors to Bukit Kiara were appalled to see barbed wire at the park, believed to have been installed by National Landscape Department (JLN) workers recently.

The barbed wire was spotted in at least two locations with one very close to a popular bike trail.

Friends of Bukit Kiara (FoBK) pro-tem chairman Tan Sri Salleh Mohd Nor said it was ridiculous to use barbed wire in a public park.

“Apart from the danger that the wires pose to the public, they also prevent the migration of wild animals in the park.”

Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) vice-president Henry Goh said the use of barbed wire in a public park was dangerous.

“The use of concertina razor barbed wire barriers in public parks are banned in some countries. They can cause injury to park users.

“Imagine a cyclist crashing into one of them. Other types of accidents could also occur,” he said.

Goh added that the barbed wire barrier should be removed immediately before any untoward incident occurs.

Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng also questioned the need for barbed wire.

“There is absolutely no need for barbed wire in a forested park because users might be injured by it especially when they are running or cycling in the early hours or late evening or when it rains,” he said, when contacted.

Meanwhile, in a tweet on April 11, via JLN’s official Twitter account @NegaraTaman, the department said: “Barbed wire diletakkan sementara sebelum isu sempadan diselesaikan.” (Barbed wire was placed temporarily while the boundary issue is being resolved).

Attempts to clarify the matter with JLN proved unsuccessful.

Salleh said that the boundary between the government and a private corporation should have been resolved first, before using a safer material to demarcate the border.

Bukit Kiara stakeholders have also long been campaigning for the 188.9ha piece of land to be gazetted as a green lung.

Park users and environmentalists have also been pushing the 3.5m-high fence project along a 4.7km stretch to demarcate the area to be removed.

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

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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!

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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’.”

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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

Environment Ministry: Water From Only 10 Rivers Drinkable

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The Star Online by Yuen Meikeng - Photo: fakawitribe.com

Kuala Lumpur: Water from only 2% of the 473 rivers in the country are drinkable without any treatment.

Deputy Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr James Dawos Mamit told Parliament the 10-odd rivers were categorised under Class 1, which refers to a standard of river water that is clean enough to drink.

He did not name the rivers.

“The number comprises 2% of the total 473* rivers in which quality is monitored by the Department of Environment (DoE). This is based on records from the department in 2013,” he said during question time.

He said the 10 rivers were part of the 275 rivers classified under Class 2 (rivers which are considered clean.)

“This means that 58.1% of our rivers are clean. We must always be careful and ensure that the quality of water in the 275 rivers are always maintained,” he said.

On The Star’s frontpage report on the annual 300,000 tonnes of garbage being thrown into rivers, James said the Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) had built catchments to stop the thrash from flowing into the sea.

“The collection of garbage from rivers is also carried out by the local authorities and the DoE.

“The DoE and DID monitors cases of organic waste or toxic materials being channelled into rivers and their reports will be forwarded to the Attorney-General for action,” he said.

James added that 23,000 tonnes of solid waste and garbage were generated from Malaysians daily.

It was reported by The Star that about 300,000 tonnes of garbage, enough to fill 110 Olympic-sized swimming pools, are being dumped into rivers yearly and the constant pollution is adding to the prolonged water shortage.

*”A Sungai Runs Through It**” in Bukit Kiara WAS classified as a Class 1 by the Global Environment Center (GEC), now not so sure anymore…

** See the story of the “Sungai Runs Through It" river here via Fakawi.com.

Keep Bukit Kiara clean, green and refreshing

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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

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. 

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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?

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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? 

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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?

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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? 

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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.