A residents’ group is objecting to the Taman Rimba Kiara (TRK) name change, suggesting there is a hidden agenda behind the move by Kuala Lumpur City Hall.
The Taman Tun Dr Ismail Residents’ Association (TTDIRA) said renaming TRK to Taman Awam Bukit Kiara appears to be an attempt to alter the status of park, despite the matter still being heard by the courts.
“It (TRK) is the subject of a highly publicised, long-running court battle since 2017 between residents and City Hall and is still before the Court of Appeal and awaiting decision by the said court.
“The identity of ‘Taman Rimba Kiara’ itself as a public park is the subject of the above-said suit,” it said in a statement.
The TTDIRA is also questioning why City Hall is so intent on removing the word “Rimba”.
“Is it because it does not wish to acknowledge that there is an urban forest within the park area?
“Is it because it plans to clear the forested area of the park? Therefore, changing the character of the park?”
It also questioned if the city council is trying to disassociate itself from the controversy and public anger connected with the proposed development at TRK.
“The name Taman Rimba Kiara has been in use for decades. Why the sudden rush now to change the name while the court process is still ongoing?”
According to TTDIRA, the park was given its ‘rimba’ name, which translates as ‘forest’, as it was planted as an urban forest by the Forest Research Institute Malaysia.
They claimed that the park now has more than 1,800 mature trees and 214 tree species, including endangered forest tree species such as meranti rambai daun, balau singkawang air and meranti sarang punai.
“There are more than 50 bird species, including hornbill, recorded as being sighted in the park, plus otters in the Sg Penchala corner of the park.
“Clearly, Taman Rimba Kiara as it exists today is an urban forest, therefore, it is accurately known as a ‘taman rimba’.”
The association also refuted the claim by City Hall that the name change was to avoid public confusion, citing that the park had been known as Taman Rimba Kiara for decades.
City Hall, in its notice, had said the public could get confused as there is a large park nearby under the purview of the National Landscape Department.
Residents are currently appealing against a lower court’s dismissal of their application for a judicial review to challenge the development’s approval to use part of the park land for a mixed-housing project.
Earlier today, Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh had called on City Hall and the Federal Territories Ministry to explain why TRK is being renamed.
Yeoh had said this should not be done while a court case over the development of part of TRK is ongoing.
Meanwhile, the TTDI RA said the proposed condo development project by Malton group at TRK has become a buzz phrase for controversial, inconsiderate development causing much public outrage.
“The proposed TRK development has exposed the conflicts of interest between City Hall and Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan (YWP) and is the subject of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission investigations.”
City Hall had, in 2014, approved plans to develop part of the park into nine blocks of high-rise condominiums, as well as affordable housing, under a venture between YWP and Memang Perkasa Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of developer Malton Bhd.
Barisan Nasional’s Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor was Federal Territories minister at the time, and the plan has been dogged by allegations of corruption.
The residents are calling on Kuala Lumpur Mayor Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahlan to reconsider the name change.
“We call on City Hall and the Federal Territories Ministry to respect the ongoing court process and ensure that Taman Rimba Kiara is retained as it is until the court process is complete. Do not proceed with the name change.”
Under the previous Pakatan Harapan government, Federal Territories minister Khalid Abdul Samad negotiated for a scaled-down project comprising four blocks of serviced apartments and 204 units of affordable housing, but this was rejected by Save Taman Rimba.
The group instead called for permanent and affordable housing for the nearby longhouse community to proceed, but not development of the high-rise condominiums.