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Kidex and Pakatan Rakyat’s broken promise

Does Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley really need another flyover? (Wiki commons)

Does Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley really need another highway? (Wiki commons)

PETALING Jaya (PJ) will see yet another highway snaking through it, with construction of the Kinrara Damansara Skyway (Kidex) expected to begin in early 2015. Kidex will be a 14.9km elevated highway starting at the New Klang Valley Expressway (NKVE)’s Damansara toll plaza and terminating at the Bukit Jalil Highway. Its proposed route will pass by or above Tropicana City Mall, SSTwo Mall, Section 14, Hilton PJ, the Jalan Templer roundabout, Taman Dato Harun, Taman Medan Baru and Bandar Kinrara.

Much has been said about the need for Kidex and how it will alleviate PJ traffic woes and reduce congestion on the Damansara-Puchong and Sprint highways. Many PJ residents, however, especially those whose homes will be compulsorily acquired or affected by depreciation in property value, oppose the project.

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) Members of Parliament (MPs) and state assemblypersons have been speaking out on residents’ behalf against Kidex, calling for more information. But isn’t the PR Selangor government involved in the approval of the highway? And won’t its cooperation be required to compulsorily acquire land for the project?

Social impact

A perusal of the Kidex Preliminary Environmental Impact Assessment Report (PEIA) reveals the social impact of the project. The PEIA has already been approved by the Federal Department of Environment on 28 March 2013, about a month after its submission.

Kidex will be constructed over heavily built-up residential areas in Petaling Jaya and will pass very close to schools, houses and places of worship. It will pass just 5m away from two schools – Bukit Bintang Boys Secondary School and Sri Petaling Primary School. Its distance from the Tun Abdul Aziz Mosque in Section 14 is listed as 7m and from St Paul’s Church as 18m. Houses in parts of Sections 2, 4, 7 and 8 will be just 10m from the highway (PEIA, pages 5-15).

The report estimates that close to 300 private homes will have to be compulsorily acquired under the Land Acquisition Act. The report summarises all affected lots and lists numerous residential properties affected, including terrace houses in Sections 17 and 19, and houses along Jalan Penchala in Section 8.

For property owners living close to the highway who are not forced to sell, they will face increased noise pollution. High-rise buildings that have been identified include:

Bullet - orange circle Ameera Residences Condominium
Bullet - orange circle Damansara Bistari Apartment
Bullet - orange circle Jasmine Towers Condominium
Bullet - orange circle Tun Hussein Onn Eye Hospital
Bullet - orange circle Istara Condominium
Bullet - orange circle Flat Taman Sri Manja

Some property owners will also face a drastic drop in property value due to the “noise and vibration from being at close proximity” with the highway and the negative perception attached to that.

Other adverse impacts that should alarm residents living along the Kidex highway corridor can be found in the 232-page PEIA report.

Whose responsibility?

Kidex was one of several new highways proposed by the federal government and was first announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on 15 October 2010 during his 2011 budget speech. At the time, no details were available and it was simply known as the Damansara-Petaling Jaya Highway.

A concession agreement was signed on 15 November 2013 between the Malaysian Highway Authority, a statutory body overseen by the Works Ministry, and Kidex Sdn Bhd.

Tony Pua (File pic)

Tony Pua (File pic)

PR elected representatives, including Bukit Gasing assemblyperson Rajiv Rishyakaran and PJ Utara MP Tony Pua, have expressed dismay at the lack of information on the project from the concessionaire and the federal government. A group of DAP assemblypersons have urged Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Paul Low to disclose the Kidex concession agreement and prove he is not a “lame duck transparency minister”. PJ Selatan MP Hee Loy Sian has also questioned the federal government in Parliament on the absence of public hearings, and lack of information on the houses and commercial buildings involved.

But the PR representatives would do well to question the PR Selangor government on this proposed project since it requires the state government’s involvement to proceed. Crucially, the power to compulsorily acquire land lies solely with the state government.

Selangor government involved

The Selangor government’s involvement is apparent from available documentation. Shortly after the May 2013 general election, the Selangor government published a gazette under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act freezing 3,784 land lots from being traded on 18 July 2013. These land lots are within 100m of the highway’s proposed corridor (see attachment A). This was subsequently amended to 3,723 land lots.

At a protest over Kidex in September 2013, Rajiv referred to a letter from the Jabatan Ketua Pengarah Tanah dan Galian (Persekutuan) dated 31 July 2013 referring to possible compensation for affected residents. This letter, however, is from the Jabatan Ketua Pengarah Tanah dan Galian (Persekutuan) Negeri Selangor – a department under the purview of the Selangor government (see attachment B).

On 12 Nov 2013, Works Minister Datuk Fadillah Yusof responded to a question from Hee on the status of Kidex. Fadillah stated that the Kidex project had been presented to the Selangor government, and the proposal for the project had been agreed to by the state government in a letter dated 23 Feb 2012 from the Selangor Economic Action Council (MTES).

And on 11 April 2014, Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim announced that the state government has agreed to allow the project to proceed.

Broken promise

By agreeing to the highway proposal, the Selangor government was in blatant disregard of the PR’s collective election manifesto known as Buku Jingga, where the coalition promised to abolish tolled highways.

xxx

By agreeing to the project in February 2012 and subsequently publishing Buku Jingga promising to abolish tolled highways, while not informing voters about the impending highway, the PR essentially lied to PJ residents to gain votes.

Some PR representatives have at least seen it fit to point out this hypocrisy. “Promises made to the people during elections form the basis upon which governments are given their mandate to govern. These promises, reduced into election manifestos such as the Pakatan Rakyat Manifesto 2013, must be respected and fulfilled,” said Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo.

Sadly, Gobind’s views have not been shared or repeated by other PR elected representatives who have simply sought to redirect the blame to the federal government or concessionaire. Calls on the federal government for transparency should be accompanied by similar calls on the Selangor government. For a start, the Selangor government could disclose the MTES meeting minutes from February 2012, where the state government agreed to the project in principle.

Meanwhile, Menteri Besar Khalid has assured the public that feedback will be sought and that all information would be made public. However, no commitment on the timeline or mechanism on how these promises would be kept has been provided.

The calls by PR representatives for more transparency and accountability over Kidex would be more effective if the Selangor government itself demonstrated these attributes in its dealings with Kidex. Until then, the rights of affected residents are being trampled on by both the Barisan Nasional and PR governments because of this project. The Nut Graph


KW Mak is a committee member of the Say No to Kidex pro tem group and was an independent candidate for the Bukit Gasing state assembly seat in the May 2013 general election. He has no property along the highway corridor but believes in upholding affected residents’ rights.

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21 Responses to “Kidex and Pakatan Rakyat’s broken promise”

  1. Sunna Sutta says:

    This is yet another example of the strange bed partners relationship between the PKR-led Selangor state government and the BN-led federal government. A number of controversial state government decisions made by MB Khalid Ibrahim have increasingly made many people wonder whether he is an UMNO stooge. Suspicions mounted after the out-of-court settlement [...] over Khalid’s RM66.67 million debt to Bank Islam as a result of the Kumpulan Guthrie Bhd shares fiasco. FMT columnist, CT Ali posed the questions, “Did it involve selling Selangor’s water assets to the federal government, and did it require for Khalid to do nothing in regards to the recent anti-Christian sweep in the state?” (http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/2014/03/03/whats-the-bank-islam-deal-khalid/)

    At the same time, the CoA conveniently found Anwar Ibrahim guilty in Sodomy II just in time to block the Kajang Move which, had it been successful, would most likely have removed Khalid Ibrahim from the Selangor MB post. I guess Khalid’s future as the political warlord of Selangor will be clearer after the results for the PKR deputy presidency elections are known.

    • KW Mak says:

      @ Sunna Sutta

      Even if Khalid appears to be an UMNO stooge, it doesn’t exempt all the other State Excos from the decision as approval by a state government needs to be discussed and agreed upon at a formal meeting (which was what the MTES meeting in Feb 2012 was).

      We talk about checks and balances, accountability and transparency – and that is exactly what failed to transpire here. Seriously, what business did the state government have in approving the project in 2012 when the concession agreement wasn’t even signed yet?

      Regards.

      • Sunna Sutta says:

        I never said that the other Selangor exco members are not involved in the decision to approve the Kidex project. All government executive decisions, whether at the state or federal levels, are necessarily collective decisions involving the state exco or the federal cabinet respectively. However, one has to remember that cabinet ministers are all selected by the prime minister while all state exco members are selected by the menteri besar/ketua menteri. Logically, the top executive would avoid picking people who would question his [or her] decisions which are portrayed as “collective” decisions. There are exceptions of course, for example, Najib brought Waythamoorthy into the PM’s Department as a Deputy Minister. It did not take long for Waythamoorthy to start criticising the government on various issues regarding the Indian community and it did not take very long either for him to resign after he stood out like a sore thumb from the rest of the cabinet. Similarly, any state exco member would have to stand in line with the MB if he or she expects to remain in the state exco. As for PR MPs and ADUNs in Selangor, they have to direct their fire at the federal government rather than the state government, otherwise it would be like shooting one’s own foot.

        Nevertheless, I most certainly concur with you that all the talk about checks and balances, accountability and transparency in Selangor did not transpire into real action. The Selangor government failed the test when Khalid announced last year that state exco members need not declare assets which they had accumulated prior to their appointment. Compare that with Penang, where the CM and all state exco members have already submitted their full declaration of assets for public scrutiny. In the wake of the said out-of-court settlement, one cannot help but wonder whether Khalid’s net assets versus debts were in deficit. Now we will never know whether bankruptcy would have forced him to relinquish both the MB and elected posts.

        • Sunna Sutta says:

          To add on to the last sentence,

          … or how vulnerable it would have made him to political accommodation.

  2. Ngan says:

    Well, you can never trust politicians…. most politicians.

  3. Lenny says:

    Whether its PKR or BN… it doesnt matter..

    The highway will be a great example of our poor town planning. Right now…developments are still made in already congested areas. As an effect…highways such as this will continue to be built to connect these congested townships.. and guess what… the highway will be jam packed in a couple of years…. sooo problemo not solved..

  4. Moaz Ahmad says:

    Aside from the close distances to existing buildings, there is the issue of PM2.5 air pollution. Particulate Matter 2.5 can reach deep into the lungs and is identified as a known cancer-causing agent. The World Health Organization has declared that air pollution is the number one killer worldwide. Why bring this into the heart of Petaling Jaya?

    The other obvious factor that must be considered is that rather than an elevated highway (with off and on ramps…don’t forget about those) the line could be built as a Monorail or LRT line. As a monorail it would actually cost less (approximately RM120 million per km) than the RM162 million per km for the expressway. It would also have a smaller footprint and occupy less space. As an LRT the cost would be RM160 – RM170 million per km but it would also have a smaller footprint and occupy less space.

    Most importantly, either a monorail or LRT would move between 5 and 10 times as many people as the highway is capable of moving…and there would be no air pollution generated on site.

    For more info please review http://transitmy.com/2014/04/12/selangor-government-makes-unwise-decision-to-proceed-with-study-of-elevated-highway-through-petaling-jaya/

  5. til says:

    Sack Khalid. Simple as that. How can Khalid reward the key sponsors of the Perak putsch?

  6. Kong Kek Kuat says:

    @ KW Mak

    Well, I suppose Tony Pua has answered some hasty conclusions about Pakatan Rakyat disregarding its Buku Jingga on the point of abolishing highway tolls.

    I am not for or against KIDEX, but sometimes, emotion takes the better of us, and we become too eager to accuse or we come to the wrong conclusions. A clear mind would have known that almost all highways in Malaysia are under Federal Govt. jurisdiction.

    • KW Mak says:

      @ Kong Kek Kuat

      Note that Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo had a different interpretation of the promise.

      Also note that it was not fair of Pakatan Rakyat to agree to the project in principle in February 2012 before the residents who are affected were consulted.

      And note that the Land Acquisition Gazette was published to freeze all the land transactions in July 2013 BEFORE the Kidex Sdn Bhd signed the concession agreement with the Federal Government.

      Note also all the recent denials by MBPJ councillors that MBPJ had received no details on the project and thus could not approve the project – yet residents are being called for a Town Hall Meeting this coming Thursday at 9.30am. (see: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152421865273834&set=gm.1482668135284812&type=1&theater)

      No, you don’t have to be for or against Kidex. You just have to be ignorant of the facts to accuse the residents of being irrational when they have every right to be angry. It isn’t just about a broken promise, it is about the secret deals that the PR government made behind the people’s backs. (see: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/at-kidex-briefing-residents-turn-on-selangor-pakatan-government)

      Let me reiterate this point for you – transparency, accountability, checks and balances are not words you just pay lip service to. From the confiscation of the bibles to this Kidex issue, the PR Selangor government has not been honest.

      Regards.

      • Kong Kek Kuat says:

        @ KW Mak (and YB Gobind Singh Karpal Singh, if he is also reading this)

        With all due respect to Gobind, I say here on this issue that he too has been muddled by all the noise out there, conflating the residents´ objections due to personal interests, and the promises in the Buku Jingga.

        I repeat that I am neither for nor against the KIDEX, and so it is obvious that knowing any or all the facts in the KIDEX issue is irrelevant. From the development of things with the Say No To KIDEX group and some written opinion here and there, we only have to ask ourselves: What does the residents´ objection to the KIDEX have to do with Pakatan Rakyat allegedly breaking one of its Buku Jingga promises? The answer: 1. Irrationality; 2.a lack of good minds involved in this issue; and 3. politics/self-interest.

        1. Are the residents objecting because they feel very strongly about PR not follwing their own words in the Buku Jingga or because their houses will be affected? To obviously answer this, we only have to ask ourselves if the residents would still angrily object if KIDEX is toll-free. I´ll bet my life´s savings on it that they still will, angrily object. Saying that PR is breaking their Buku Jingga promise, and hence the objection to KIDEX, is just like telling your neighbour that his wife will have to cook for you tonight because you just had a fight with your missus – plain doesn’t make sense. It is so obvious that the issue here is just about the residents´ personal interests. But see point 3 below.

        2. Following from point 1, there are people who actually conflate the two issues, either in their minds or through various written opinion. The majority of those who will be affected by KIDEX, as well as those in the Say No To KIDEX group, could certainly be classified as either having a lack of good mind, or desparately grasping at anything that may throw the KIDEX project off, e.g. saying that KIDEX must not be built since the Buku Jingga promises to abolish tolls. There is a minority, however, who is politically motivated or who has some sinister agenda in poking holes in the PR outfit, which brings me to point 3 below.

        3. There are people who, either because of personal issues or some other reasons have something against PR, manipulate the KIDEX issues. For these people, conflating the KIDEX issues KIDEX (and indeed any bad issue) with unfulfilled Buku Jingga promises is a day-job or may be even a personal thing.

        But let´s say that the reason the majority of the residents who objected are because they are genuinely concerned that PR has broken or will be breaking one of the Buku Jingga promises. Are they (and you) saying that “oh, since Pakatan Rakyat has promised to abolish tolls, its States cannot build any highway… because that would incur tolls and go against its promises in the Buku Jingga.” Or, “if PR Selangor wants to build highways, it must use only its own money — no privatisation, no loans from the Federal Govt., and it must hold on to its pride by not asking for Federal funds. Meanwhile, Selangorians will just have to live with fewer but free-from-toll roads. Kalau jem, jem lah. We cannot… apatu… break our promises in the Buku Jingga.”

        • KW Mak says:

          The committee’s secretary David Yoong claimed in a 15-minute slide presentation that almost all of the project’s touted features and benefits were either misleading or not backed up by evidence.

          “It will not solve traffic congestion as it exits onto residential roads which are bottlenecks,” Yoong said in his presentation, which drew wide applause from the audience.

          “Kidex has also not submitted its report about how much traffic will be reduced once the highway is ready.”

          http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/at-kidex-briefing-residents-turn-on-selangor-pakatan-government

          “Fulfil your promises first and then talk about abolishing cronyism and government monopolies.

          “If Kidex is made toll free, then we talk further,” Yoong said, to loud cries of support from the residents. ‎
          “This is an issue on the lack of good governance.”

          http://www.therakyatpost.com/news/2014/05/10/residents-grill-pakatan-rakyat-kidex/

          • Kong Kek Kuat says:

            @ KW Mak

            I am glad that you referred to the same news report which also reported that one of the residents allegedly said, “we will not accept the highway even if they pay us $10mmillion.” “If KIDEX is made toll-free, then we talk further.” “This is an issue of good governance.” Very interesting crowd. But sorry Mak, [...] what he says about KIDEX is irrelevant.

            Upholding residents´ rights, I agree. But it seems to me that you are perhaps getting too pre-occupied with Pakatan Rakyat. I quote you: “Rajiv appears to (be) supportive of the MRT project. Yep. This is Pakatan Rakyat working very hard for you to stop the evil Barisan Nasional.”

      • Kong Kek Kuat says:

        @ KW Mak

        Regarding the issues of “transparency, accountability, checks and balances,” I thought meeting the residents in a Town Hall even before MBPJ has received any detail is quite transparent and accountable, no? Or am I missing something here? [...]

        • KW Mak says:

          @ Kong Kek Kuat

          How do you have a meaningful discussion when there are no documents to study before hand? Anyway, don’t let my words sway you. Here’s what Sivarasa Rasiah said in 2006 before he became Subang MP about consultation and planning laws (full article in link at the bottom).

          Section 14 resident Sivarasa Rasiah congratulated the council for carrying out the briefing.

          However, he said the consultation process that took place was, “far short of what is required under the planning law. Can the council give us this information in writing in advance and then we can come back here and have a meaningful discussion?”

          Sivarasa called for the council to provide an assurance that the documents would be given to the residents and that another session would be held.

          But Termizi said: “Whatever is related to you, you can write in to us and say whether you agree or disagree and give us the reasons. I cannot give instant answers to all the issues that are being raised. We are taking notes and it is not the end of the session, that we will straight away draft our changes. There is time.”

          Sivarasa then asked who was asking for the changes of status from housing to commercial, as it was standard practise to reveal such persons and that such information, coupled with a complete study of traffic assessment and other reports would enable residents to provide feedback or object properly.

          Termizi refused to discuss the matter further claiming that the briefing was not the place to debate this.

          http://www.thestar.com.my/Story/?file=%2F2006%2F4%2F3%2Fcentral%2F13850562&sec=central

          • Kong Kek Kuat says:

            @ KW Mak

            I apologise then. I didn´t know that the meeting with the residents at the Town Hall will be the only and final meeting with the residents. And to the residents and Selangorians and all and sundry who voted for any of the Pakatan Rakyat parties: [...] Please vote for BN the next time. Or better: Vote for an independent — you won´t get any highways, that´s for sure.

  7. David says:

    I firmly believe the issue with Kong Kek Kuat (and people like him) is NOT whether he is for or against Kidex, but whether he is for or against UPHOLDING PRINCIPLES. Principles as in honouring a pledge, and giving emphasis to fulfilling lofty aspirations for the greater common good. [If people] shun knowledge of any or all the facts re Kidex, citing irrelevance, yet find the relevancy to make a whole lot of comments, entangled in [...] twisted logic, [can they be taken seriously?]. His views expounding self-interest as the only reasons for people to object to Kidex actually clearly underlines [a] selfish character. [...]

  8. Marina Yong says:

    For the price of RM2.2 billion and completion date by 2018, an alternative would be to increase public transport through the areas covered by the KIDEX.

    The smart way to increase public transport through these areas is to put electric buses on the road.

    One unit Electric bus = RM1,500,000 (before discount for bulk purchase)

    1. If use RM1.5 billion, then 1,000 buses can be put on the road.

    2. These buses can be a combination of medium-sized feeder buses in the housing estate feeding to the larger stage buses which will ply the main route.

    3. The buses can be put on the road in stages e.g. 2015 – 200 buses, 2016 – 250 buses, 2017 – 250 buses, 2018 – 300 buses.

    4. For perspective, right now RapidKL has 1500 buses and Metrobus has 700 buses (difficult to verify size of Metrobus fleet).

    5. FYI, on SPAD’s website, the KL-Klang BRT was only priced at RM25million/km.

    6. Balance of RM0.7 billion can be used for the operational offices, workshops, better bus stops, hire and train the best staff.

    Problems avoided by the electric bus plan
    1. No air pollution from sulphur, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and PM2.5
    2. No noise pollution (electric buses are very quiet)
    3. No acquisition of residential lots
    4. No reduction of property value due to KIDEX being < 20m of the property
    5. No traffic congestion due to construction works of KIDEX
    6. No toll

    Benefits of the electric bus plan:
    1. All of the above avoided
    2. TNB gets more business from supplying electricity for the buses
    3. Malaysia meets its goal of reducing greenhouse gases which affect climate change
    4. Increase the number of jobs associated with green and clean technologies
    5. Malaysia meet its goal of becoming a hub for energy efficient vehicles
    6. Government doesn't pay for fuel subsidy – diesel buses or cars on the KIDEX highway
    7. Integration with the MRT Lines 1&2 as well as LRT Ampang & Kelana Jaya line
    8. Selangor government is praised
    9. Federal government is praised (grudgingly)

    • neptunian says:

      Hai Marina, please check with RapidKL… 1500 buses, how many are actually working? Ask to go to their depot (spread around the Klang valley) to see the mothballed buses!

      • Marina Yong says:

        Neptunian, you’re right about RapidKL.

        RapidKL has about 800+ buses on the road, Metro has 300+ buses, and the other 11 bus companies make up the balance to a grand total of 1905 buses for the Klang Valley.


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