KUALA LUMPUR, 11 Dec 2008: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has proposed that the government introduces a new act on hillslope development similar to that used in Hong Kong.
Its chairperson Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid said the act based on Hong Kong’s Hillside Order would compel house owners to conduct maintenance work and evaluate the slopes once every six months.
“The house owners will have to appoint engineers or surveyors to re-evaluate the position of their houses and land to ensure that they are safe for occupation. The house owners have to bear the cost of maintenance.
“PAC proposes that a Hillside Act be introduced but it is up to the government whether to accept it or not. Building houses on hillslopes is not cheap, it is an expensive business,” he told reporters after visiting the landslide site at Taman Bukit Mewah, Bukit Antarabangsa, near Hulu Kelang today.
Azmi said adopting the Hillside Order in Malaysia would call for some streamlining work to suit the local weather which was different from that of Hong Kong.
PAC was hopeful that the government would gazette a more stringent act for state governments and local authorities.
“We feel that there should not be anymore development on hillslopes as it only endangers lives. The Hillslope Act has to be gazetted fast to prevent more tragedies.
“We may have an environmental impact assessment (EIA) committee and the Land Conservation Act 1965 but there is no strict implementation while the guideline is still blurred.”
Azmi said development of areas over 50 acres had to be approved by the EIA committee but is not applicable for those less than 20 acres, mostly on hillslopes.
As such, many developers were keen on building on hillslopes.
“The Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) that is responsible for Hulu Kelang must also look at its weaknesses and expertise on hillslopes especially the personnel at its disposal.”
PAC also criticised developers for building on hillslopes not according to the earth contour for profit’s sake.
“Building on hillslopes has to follow the earth contour and building parallel-ly is not allowed. Most developers are against building according to contour as not many houses can be built this way.
“Taman Bukit Mewah was developed in parallel and that is why this happened. Cameron Highlands is safe as it was developed according to the contour,” Azmi said.
Earlier, the PAC and several members of parliament were given a one hour briefing by Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar before having a close look at the houses damaged in the landslide. — Bernama