Khalid Samad today defended a proposal to scale down the Taman Rimba Kiara development project after it was criticised by DAP’s Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh who said it was no different than the original project promoted by his predecessor.
The revised plan would see the construction of four condominium blocks instead of the original eight, and the height of the buildings decreased from 50 storeys to 45.
The federal territories minister questioned Yeoh’s claim that the changes were nominal.
“How can she say it is insignificant?” asked Khalid.
“Even the cost of the ECRL was slashed by over 30%,” he told FMT.
Yeoh, who is also the deputy women, family and community development minister, said the proposal to scale down the controversial project which cuts into a green lung in Kuala Lumpur was not much different from the original project approved by Khalid’s predecessor Tengku Adnan Mansor.
“The difference between Tengku Adnan’s legacy in Taman Rimba Kiara and the proposed solution by Khalid Samad is nominal and this is not good enough for me, the longhouse residents and also the users of Taman Rimba Kiara,” said the DAP leader.
The Taman Rimba Kiara development will see the construction of a block of 350 units of affordable housing where residents from the current longhouses will be placed.
Kuala Lumpur City Hall approved the project in July 2017 despite massive objections from surrounding residents.
The project, which is currently being investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, is a joint venture between the federal territories ministry’s Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan and Memang Perkasa Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Malton Bhd.
Khalid said the revised plan would see the project taking up 3.2 hectares of land instead of the original 4.9 hectares.
“So what more could you ask for? We need to be reasonable.”
Khalid also disagreed with Yeoh’s claim that longhouse residents would be separated from the other more affluent neighbourhoods.
“Why move them into a tiny corner, creating a huge barrier between those who can afford condos and those who can’t? I want the longhouse residents to be treated better than this,” she wrote on Facebook.
Khalid said the affordable units built for the longhouse residents will see a “very low” density of between 450 and 500 people on a plot covering two acres.
Most affordable homes, he said, were built on land that would see between 800 and 1,000 people per acre.
“I am not putting them in a small area. The density is good and it is next to a temple,” he said, adding that the land in between the condominiums, affordable homes and temple will be used as a car park.
Khalid, however, said he had no issue with Yeoh’s criticism as she was speaking on behalf of her constituents in Taman Tun Dr Ismail.
He is due to present the two options – the developer’s scaled-down version and Yeoh’s proposal to restrict development to the longhouse’s footprint of 1.8ha – to Cabinet soon for a final decision.
The longhouse, where nearly 100 families of former Indian estate workers live, is adjacent to the Sri Maha Mariamman temple in TTDI and opposite the Taman Rimba Eco Park.
TTDI residents have been fighting the project ever since the park was rezoned for development by Barisan Nasional.
They said Tengku Adnan had approved the project with elements of conflict of interest and corruption.
Khalid came under heavy criticism by resident groups and environmentalists earlier this year when he announced that the project would not be cancelled as Kuala Lumpur City Hall would have to fork out RM150 million to compensate the developer.
However, lawyers Ambiga Sreenevasan and Derek Fernandez had said the contract “tainted with illegality” could be cancelled and terminated without having to take into account its binding terms.