A dark cloud looms over Section 19 in Petaling Jaya (Google Maps)
PETALING JAYA, 5 June 2009: The Majlis Bandaraya Petaling Jaya (MBPJ) has failed to disclose documents of public interest relating to a development project in Section 19, Petaling Jaya, even after residents’ repeated requests.
“First they told us the documents were classified. Now they say that these documents belong to the developers, and that they would need the developers’ consent to disclose them,” Section 19 resident Ow Yew Teik told The Nut Graph.
“This is ridiculous,” Ow said, adding that the information was in the public’s interest.
Ow, along with other residents living along the Section 19/30 and 19/27 residential roads, have been requesting development orders, building plans, and other documents related to a development project in their neighbourhood. They have been petitioning MBPJ for the documents since June 2008.
In a letter sent to news organisations, the Section 19 residents group outlined their questions about the development project:
why a portion of the land adjoining Jalan 19/30 had been re-gazetted for commercial use, when it was previously gazetted as residential;
when the development project, which sits between Jalan 19/30, SS2/72, and Ken 3 Condominiums, was approved; and
why the residents of Section 19 were not consulted on the project before approval was given.
Project signboard on Jalan 19/30 (Pic courtesy of Ow Yew Teik)
“The MBPJ claims they have an approval list from us. But no one gave them consent. Show us proof that they consulted with us,” Ow said in a phone interview.
According to Ow, there were many particulars that were questionable about the development project, including the height and close proximity of the buildings.
“What we want is the council to show us the development plans,” Ow said. “In the event that everything is legal, we will shut up.”
However, if the documents revealed that there were irregularities in the development project, Ow said it was up to the MBPJ to rectify matters.
Ow revealed that at the last MBPJ full-board meeting held on 28 May 2009, all 24 MBPJ local councillors agreed that the documents should be made available to the public.
“I have written a number of letters to the MBPJ Town Planning Department, instructing them to reveal to residents these documents,” local councillor Mak Khuin Weng said in an interview.
Mak (Pic courtesy of KW Mak) Mak, who writes for The Nut Graph, pointed out that the Section 19 case was “not normal”.
“In the case of other developments, residents are normally given access to the development plans, and documents such as traffic impact assessments,” Mak explained.
“I have given the department a deadline,” Mak said, adding that he had hoped the documents would be released without any conditions by 2 June.
“These documents should be released. Failing which, we will have to take the matter up with the menteri besar’s office.”
However, according to Ow, Section 19 residents still have not received the documents as of 4 June 2009.
The Nut Graph‘s attempts at contacting MBPJ’s town planning department and the legal department since 2 June have not yielded any official explanations.
MBPJ’s reticence is in contrast with the Selangor government’s commitment to freedom of information. On 19 May, Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim announced that the Pakatan Rakyat (PR)-governed state would table a Freedom of Information Enactment (FOIE) bill by the end of 2009.